Monthly Archives: June 2009

Striking Out

Words really do fascinate me. Like, how can the above title phrase mean to set out on a journey while also meaning to come to the end of an opportunity in a game established in the United States where players travel around bases, ultimately coming home?

That is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

In this situation I mean the phrase in the sense, “to strike out on a journey.” I am getting out of town for a few days, traveling down to see my kin.

Alafia, Balm Boyette (could the rumors be true? Does it no longer suck?)Santos, San Felasco, Fanning Springs, Pole Barn, Bean Point, Highlands Hammock, Huckleberry’s BBQ, Payne’s Prairie, all of these points of interest are in play along the way.

I’m happy to go too. So far this summer of 2009 in Tallahassee gets an F.

Time for a change of scene.


Finger Crossers

Big Worm? Wrecking Ball? They lie.

Spanish Mack said it best and he said it just like this, “The thing to remember is that everyone is a sandbagger and everyone is a liar. Every single one of them!”

We rode real nice and friendly, except when we didn’t. The heat has cranked down from, “You are dying as we stand in this parking lot contemplating the heat” to “I didn’t realize I could breathe warm cheese dip.”

A slight improvement.


Silent, but deadly

Bigworm is riding north tonight at 5:45 P:M. I guess that means the riding moratorium is called off due to temps below 100. Amazing what kind of notions people get after 15 minutes of rain.

I’m going to hunt him down.



Tiny drops of water falling in the swimming pool. Right out of the blessed sky itself. I dog paddled through 600,000 gallons of chlorine and urine seeking a little exercise and relief; the lone swimmer in the water being watched over by a bored but dutiful lifeguard named Lindsey. She must have been at least 12 years old.

I heard her speak through the slosh and gurgle in my ears.
( I was doing my manatees where I bob to the surface then slowly descend.)

“Rain.” She clearly said the word rain. I rolled to port and looked into the sun- tormentor of my days, ruler of my universe, the relentless fucking sun.

Tiny cool drops hit my face. Lindsey put down her umbrella and let the raindrops bounce off of her gigantic 1970’s shades.

Almost 15 minutes the shower continued, cooling my face, burned from the hotly acidic pool water. As the shower faded down to a sprinkle, I made my way to the ladder.

“That’s it?” said smug Lindsey.

“That’s it.” I said, “and it was more than enough.”


A Day of Record

Compelled by a morbid sense of ceremony and notability I plan to ride in the morning to commemorate the “hottest day of the year” ride. Projected high temps of 103 with the heat index approaching 575 degrees means that in a series of nasty days tomorrow will truly be the big hungry bear lurking in the forest. I intend to ride pre-dawn and in the controlled arena of the St. Marks trail.

I am billing it as a little me time with the Fuji Del Rey.

I scramble to adapt my schedule to accommodate not riding and the results are too sad to bother providing a full reckoning here. I have been to every swimming hole in two counties in recent days, worked all night and slept half the days, eaten ice cream for breakfast, and ridden spin bike time trials at the gym listening to music made by people who hate music.

I sat in a sinkhole so brown it looked like a pitcher of tea, with a film of duckweed carpeting the surface, a cloud of mosquitoes in nostrils, earholes, and eyes. That trip, specifically, was most unsatisfying.

I have rearranged my library from genre to alphabetical, before settling on color and size as the preferred demarcation. This was done at 5:00 in the morning before I ran around the block wrapped in hospital green bedsheets and wearing cowboy boots.

I am, in actual fact, crazy from this heat. Crazy ass crazy crazy.

Might as well go ahead and ride.


Oh, and Cupcake and his dear wife Blanche had a baby girl this morning,

Mae Elizabeth Cupcake- please welcome her to the trails.


In the pure and golden years I lived in Bozeman, MT the most most pure and golden thing I did was trek over the Bozeman pass on Interstate 90 before dawn in a 1980’s Subaru with 6 people crammed inside. Exiting in Livingston and rolling down through Paradise Valley on the black ice in the dark, all for the glory of watching the sunrise over the Absarokas while sunk to my nose, naked in the Boiling River.

In the coldest months of winter we would rise at 4:30 A:M whenever we had the gas money to go. I am certain that if I lived by that water, and soaked every day, I would live forever. A sunrise trip to the Boiling river was my last official act in Montana before moving to Portland to wear stupid shirts and carry terra cotta around in the rain.

I thought of that time and place while loading my kayak onto the van in the driveway yesterday. The thermometer read 108, which would be a scalding, but ideal soaking temperature if you were in the water surrounded by rocks covered in translucent water ice and the Wapiti grazed on the hillsides above you, scratching at frozen mud for a scrap of grass.

72 degrees is the ideal soaking temperature in this part of the world. Blue Hole is a short paddle down from the Wacissa headwaters. Still sunk to my nose, no longer naked, and watching the sun go down instead of up, I nonetheless feel very close to that steaming river thousands of miles away.


Sparkle and Boom

A quick morning ride before breakfast, a little jaunt before the sun came out to brand us all as its own, that was the general idea. Meet at the Blairstone overpass at 10:00 A:M when the temperature is a brisk 92(I wore my arm warmers!)
Take a quick spin up the Fern to the Cadillac trail and back, that was my intention.

“Hey, what do you think about finding Dogboy’s Falls Chase loop and doing that instead?” said Cupcake, who hates me and wishes me harm. “Sure” said I, who hate myself and wish myself harm. “Let’s do that. Let’s ride off into the barren and exposed plains with no clear plan or knowledge of the trail.”

So that is what we did, and it was all gooey gravy for a while. Pounding up random sand roads, enjoying the longest unknown climb in Tallahassee, pushing the pace, and drinking all of my water in the first 20 minutes.

Somewhere on the Cadillac trail headed back to homebase my hammer came down on an empty chamber *click*. Confused, I came up out of the saddle and tried to fire another round into my legs. *Click*. Then panic- click,click,click,clickclick!

Nothing. I was spent. Four tablespoons of hummus the night before chased down with three Diet Ginger Ales (with Sucralose!) and a strawberry smoothie for breakfast and every single bit of it used up, reconstituted, and used up again. I watched CC grind away out of sight ahead of me.

I caught up at the top of the hill and he wordlessly passed me 3 Shot Blocks. For all I know he recited the Gettysburg address when he did it. I was delirious. I crawled down into the pain cave and waited for that little trickle charge of sugar to kick in, which it barely did.

Temperature under the Blairstone overpass when we finished the ride two hours later?

98 in the shade.



Ninety-seven degrees at the trailhead parking lot according to the Van’s external thermometer.

There is always a crossing over. There is always a ride where I choose the heat. You can choose the heat and let it melt and bend and temper you into something new (the 2009 fall edition?) or you can hide and cower from the heat– suffering cabin fever and growing brittle on the inside and doughy on the outside.

Tonight I chose the heat and the heat chose me, and now I have a date for the summer dance.


Of course I wrote about the weather. Not writing about this heat would be like living through Katrina and not writing about rain.

Get Outside (Yourself)

This post is coming at you like a Mullet, business in the front and a party in the back, and when I say business I am talking about riding Oak Mountain, AL.

I always ride Oak Mountain in the middle of the summer. I can’t remember ever being in that park when there wasn’t lava rolling down the trails and pooling in the parking lots. This trip added a new component- a slight breeze of hot air that felt like a welding torch tickling your ears. Insane hot. Muggy like a middle school locker room in Kampala, Uganda. Hotter than the hell where people in hell go to when they die.

So I rode it at night, when the temp dropped down to 91 degrees. The experience was both wonderful and terribly disconcerting to be riding singletrack alone in the dark, very aware of the time limit of my Niterider Enduro light. Contrary to my entire expectation and world view, nothing went wrong. I felt good, the light worked, and I rode most of the seventeen mile loop, cutting off the end to enjoy gliding up the park road in the moonlight, cooling down with not a car to be passed. Turkeys, deer, and a lazy raccoon were on the scene.

I spent the week running camp activities for about 50 teenagers of the sort who don’t get to participate in a lot of “extras.” We played games like “hunker down” a variation on tug-o-war involving 5 gallon buckets. We raced paddle boats. We talked about what it looks like when grown-ups respect you and how they act when they are pretending. We made S’mores. I watched entire romantic relationships emerge and fizzle in the confines of 48 hours- swoon to heartbreak to friends in 30 seconds or less. It was both hilarious and touching. I am exhausted, and not just from the pace, but from all the connecting.

I am counting on the President to handle the two-state solution, universal health care, the development of affordable alternative energy, and our fine collection of wars and skirmishes. I, on the other hand, intend to make good on my own promise to effect change and seek more ways to get outside myself.


Long time reader Dr. Detroit pulled this picture of me from the archives of our hard-partying days at The White House on Pensacola street. I believe I was freestyle rapping in the living room (explains the Tommy gun) when he snapped it. I’m not sure who brought the shark.

Now the White House is gone, covered up by some apartments and a Subway sandwich shop where the sandwich artists stay busy piling banana peppers where they don’t belong and picking their noses with those plastic gloves. They don’t know Jim Morrison once slept where they keep the stainless yet somehow stained tubs of Seafood & Krab.

That the former lead whiner for the Doors once lived there is the most enduring and least exciting rumor associated with the old White House, and I bring it up to get a laugh from all the past residents who ever repeated it in hopes of persuading some starry-eyed coed to linger longer among the dirty dishes and stacks of empties while you rustled up another gin and mostly flat tonic for the both of you to share.

I crept in after the house was condemned and rummaged through the evidence. I saw bits and pieces of the lives of many past friends and roommates, most of it covered in a trickly sprinkle of homeless urine. I left most of it alone.

Those days are gone my friends. Those days are long ass gone.

I’m on my way to Oak Mountain this morning to set up in one of their cabins and pass the rest of the week exploring the park with a gang of wild youth and bombing the trails when I can.

It has been more than 10 years since I left the White House, which seems like both forever and no time at all. I guess that’s how things will be from now on.