Monthly Archives: August 2009

meh, well…

I would like to declare publicly my intention to avoid the use of the following internetisms:

“meh”- used to describe a lack of enthusiasm, but not outright rejection of a person, thing, or idea. Good job “Meh” you are officially retired from the internet.

“well”- Needs no explanation, but just in case- Used primarily for dramatic pause to achieve that Wonder Years style of voice that demonstrates a maturation of thought. I guess.

I think it also is used to demonstrate that the writer has considered a more apt description than the one about to follow, but- well, there just isn’t any other way to say it.

I just know that “well” you’re all done now. We appreciate everything you gave us. We look forward to seeing you around in your normal role of describing: a hole where we can get water, an answer to an inquiry of our health, and limited other responsibilities.

S’quatch’s new bike, the Punisher- thumbs up. 50 lbs of get out of his way, that is what that bike is.

Wrecking Ball- verbal acrobat. From ride to shop to taco stop. Big fun.

House- clean.

Shoulder- agonizing pain from stupid airplane.

Operation grown-up (buying a house)- bewildered, must mean progress.

Reading- Sacred Hunger Even sadder than the last book I read.

Tomahawk cruise missiles- thing delivered by the guy I drove from the trailhead to University Cycles yesterday. He looked like Magnus Backstedt so I had to help him out. I look at 18 wheelers differently now. They are not all delivering Pampers.

HiTops- fast in his clipless sandals.

Okay then,


Curses & Blessings

Before I had ever crossed beyond either the Mason Dixon line or the Mississippi river John Harvey, a stranger to me then, gave me my first pair of rock climbing shoes and a carabiner.

I was going to Wyoming, a place I had to look up on the map despite my 3.334 GPA from Sebring High School. English degree in hand I was off to claim what was rightfully mine- a job cooking at a dude ranch 95 hours a week and a room in the kitchen to rest my head.

John was an old pro at the ranch circuit. He had been over the mountain and across the river many times. I remember being excited, bewildered, and most of all challenged as I held this strange gear in hand. This was to be a part of my story- the West, rock climbing, and baking muffins at 4:00 A:M every morning.

I thought John was a straight up stud back then.

Since then I have ridden 1,000 miles on trails he first envisioned, blazed, and cut with is own hands around Tallahassee. I rarely see him. A fleeting glimpse as he ducks down the aisles of Publix, an occasional sighting on one of his trails at the most. The man has a life going on, and me, I got this and that. My point is, I still think he is a stud- a stone cold, straight up man among men.

He isn’t dead, although you might make that assumption as I predict he will be widely eulogized across the Internet since he is leaving Tallahassee.

The recession has finally impacted me. John is taking a job in D.C. I can only hope it is National Trail Czar. I doubt this is the end of the story between he and Tallahassee, but it is clearly a chapter in which conflict is introduced, and our hero must check his powder, saddle his horse, and ride to meet an uncertain day.

What do you say to the man who has done everything?

Ride safe. We will keep the lamps trimmed and burning.

There is more to this melancholy, this rawness of regret and gratitude.

One year ago this past Tuesday Joe’s Bike Shop was underwater. I happened to be there on Tuesday, having stopped by on the way past the shop during a hectic day of work and errands. One thing led to another and I end up changing a flat on the biggest, dirtiest piece of crap ever owned by the grumpiest, cheapest, orneriest old man in town. I was loving it. He was hilarious. The angry mumbler.

Pete was repairing two bikes at once, selling a third to a woman with a hundred questions, and building up Singapore Mel’s old Cannondale which was bequeathed to Madison Sherry. The shop was hot, loud, and irritating as a Burger King booth full of moody teenagers. Lost in the action I had quitted myself of my guayabera and changed into a Joe’s t-shirt.

By 5:00 O’Clock the rush had died down. Joe was back on the scene, having picked up his kids from school or gotten a sandwich or perused the old records at Vinyl Fever- who knows where Joe goes?

That shop is Tallhassee to me. I would be lost without it. So would many of you.

We are losing John for a while. We have our shop back.

Curses and Blessings, who can ever tell the difference.



I took to the woods like a shot last night- running against the stream of commerce and progress overtaking this town as a new school year lurches from chaos to routine. Nothing new going on around here for me, not yet. This was just another Monday afternoon at Munson, or so I want to remember it as such.

The trail was soft. Pine needles sloughed off in great bunches and each sandy corner was a free-floating tack through light chop. Poor conditions though? I wouldn’t call it that. The woods were too perfect- too quiet- too benign and predictably friendly. Knowing that the fall insanity chases for me too, and in fact could overtake me today, this afternoon, or next Monday- I leaned into the pedals with all I had. Fast loop or slow loop I couldn’t say, but it was an everything I had loop.


Hang On

The unintended consequence of seeking permanent housing is an immediate and abrupt recognition that the space I now occupy feels all wrong. I have mentally placed myself in the liminal in-between, which is a place I remember vaguely. I can dig up the old postcards from my days in transition, but I can’t remember the flavor of the food or the smells of the streets where I ate it.

It was with this disquiet that I awoke today, fuzzy from a late-night sing-along with a couple of cast members of The Glitter Chariot.

These are friends who tolerate only the briefest mention of riding bikes. What do rock stars care for riding bicycles? Not much- that is what they care for riding bicycles. Still, when my grabbers drag dirt on those days when the great questions threaten to fling me across the universe; these rock stars hold my rope.

This is why I write also of another rope-holder, one who left me a voice message on my cellular telephone two days ago. Rather than calling him back immediately, I enjoyed playing the message and laughing out loud in the car. This morning though, I called him back.

I’m going big I tell him, I am trying to buy a house. I’m going bigger than ever he says, at Black Rock Falls. Note: This is not him in the video. He makes this guy look like a klutz.

I think about the moment of commitment when he leaves the lip and flies over the logging road to the slope far below. I think about signing papers that can’t be unsigned. I am in the parking lot of Munson and we continue talking. I see riders pull in, gear up, and roll out one after another, after another. I don’t care. I am smiling and happy, more grounded than I have been for a couple of weeks.

I know at some point this conversation will end and I will be riding, alone and serene in the forest, so I linger- exploring every tangent and angle.

Lovelife? Whatever. Rides? Epic. Future? Mexico.

We hung up. I got out. I was relieved to find my kickers reached all the way to the ground. Perhaps it will all be OK. He told me to write more often. Good advice.

Sorry Jack, Sorry Lance, the job’s been filled.


Clydesdale Hall of Fame

As a point of order here at the BigRingCircus it is time to update new inductees into the prestigious order of the Clydesdale Hall of Fame. Although in the cycling community this distinction refers to size (riders over 200 lbs) here at the BRC the honor is often bestowed upon those who accomplish BIG THINGS.

Past inductees include Dan Block, BigWorm, Fat Lad, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Billie Joe Armstrong, and many other luminaries. I welcome nominees from the general public, so let this be an invitation to do so. Without further ado, the 2009 inductees are:

Jill Homer, blog sister from back in the day, set a record riding the length of the Continental Divide. Sometimes she was sad. Sometimes she was ok. She never quit though. I wouldn’t have made it past the first Motel 6 or hamburgerdog at the 7-11. You can read about her trip and generally feel bad about your lazy ass at

Barney Frank. Speaks for itself. Barney Frank is a natural Clydesdale and he will kick your ass.

The Hardman, Mystery, Soup- Call him what you will. He grew a pair- and used them tomake a baby. Mae Elizabeth will have to earn her own way into the hall of fame, but this one’s for her Daddy whom we call Stevie.

Abdulrahman Zeitoun

Reading his story, as recorded by David Eggers, messed me up bad. A truly terrible thing could not have happened to a less deserving person. Read it. Make sure your kids read it. This is what goes on in the good old USA, Apple pies and zip ties.

I’m sure there are more, but it is time for the Realtor to explain to me again why I have to live in the ghetto/ rural methbelt. Please share your own nominations, while enjoying a tribute to a true King among Clydesdales and lifetime member of the BRC Clydesale Hall of Fame, in tribute of the recent anniversary of his passing.

The King.

Cliche or insulting comments concerning Elvis Presely will be deleted. Crack wise if you feel you must, but by God it better be original.


New Commute

After riding the 40 lb cruiser to work and back yesterday my legs are so pumped this morning I can’t get my Wranglers up over my quads. Pride alone drove me up and over the hills on MLK Jr. and Macomb. No way I was going to get off and push like a common I got a DUI so my license is revoked and I have to ride this bike to the day labor pick up spot. In fact, when I pass those dudes I stomp out a paralyzing acceleration so they will not be tempted to jump on my wheel. No free rides!


Game Face

Thank God vacation is over. Mirth and pleasure are wasted on the likes of me.

A smoothie in the blender before the break of dawn. Hundreds of e-mails to sift through. Plane tickets to purchase. Lesson plans to be written. Evil to be fought.

There is work to be done amigos, work. Bike work, life work.

Slogging at the Greenway with Felix the virus hanging onto my seatpost, dragging heel trenches behind me in the mud, that’s hard work. My legs feel like my legs again though, crushed and aching. I fell asleep too tired to care about real estate, fun, the health care plan, or the gentrification of Sasquatch.

Turn the suffer up and rip the knob off.


Still Time

Talk about still time, I have been pretty still for some time, but there are still a few seconds on the shot clock to get this August slump turned around. I hate to point fingers here, but I prefer not to take responsibility for my own actions until it is absolutely necessary.

Things weren’t looking good even before Singapore Mel (his real name) arrived for a visit. Bird aka “Benjamin Button” crashed back into Tallahassee just days before, resulting in some acute changes to the social mores of my small community. Prior to these gentlemen coming to town I had not seen 2:00 A:M in over a year. Last night I finally drifted off around 4:15 A:M (finished that book- Zeitoun- I wish it was required reading for the entire 8th grade in the United States.)

Buying (or not) buying a house proves to be a withering and sustained test of endurance, like a Guantanamo stress position. Apparently the process is about completing a series of tedious assignments followed by vague notions of approval or tsk-tsk’ing from strangers.

And yet, there is time still on the clock. Prior to these happy or obligatory distractions the riding was strong, persisting through the steamy summer, bitching like a celebutante, but riding quite a bit and feeling good.

During this twenty second time out let us review the fundamentals.

Put the bike at the center of everything.
Early to bed, early to rise.
Think about the sweet new wheels Huckleberry Shins will be building for me soon.
Smoothies and Quinoa
Nothing good happens after midnight (says Libbyllama)
San Felasco is only 5 months away.
Squatch doesn’t even own a mountain bike anymore (not sue why this is fundamental, but it seems important. Use it or lose it?)
Fall will come, and fall makes everyone faster, even me.)
In Barack I trust
Put the bike at the center of everything.

Time to take a shot.


Book review-possible spoilers.

With talk of Tropical storms swirling through the area I picked up a copy of Dave Egger’s newest book, Zeitoun. This is the story of a Syrian-American family man and his experiences during and after Hurricance Katrina. Staying behind to look after his multiple rental properties, his home,and the many job sites where his renovation company had been working- he finds himself in the surreal world of flooded New Orleans. With his family safely away, Zeitoun paddles around the neighborhood for days, feeding the dogs left behind, rescuing the elderly from upstairs windows, and camping on his roof, content, in awe of a world so changed. He believed he was meant to stay behind, that he was being used by God to serve his neighbors.

Then some dudes from Blackwater ziptied his hands and feet, threw him in a boat, and accused him of being Al-Quadea.

That’s when I decided to get out of bed and start my day.

Quite a vacation I have going here. If you don’t know how to party, talk to me.