Monthly Archives: November 2009

Root Hog or Die

It is the eleventh hour of this moving project. If you think you work hard for a living, and I ain’t saying you don’t, get a job where you get right down on your hands and knees then tell me about your pain.

I may not have been on a real bike ride for two months, but if exhaustion counts for anything I am in fine fettle. Scraping, painting, troweling, grouting, toting, dragging, crawling- the new verbs in my life.

Surprisingly, Thanksgiving weekend is a difficult time to get free help from your friends. Everybody is distracted by food, football, and family. Don’t they know I only have the tile saw for 24 hours! Thankful? Yes, I am thankful that my brother spent years in what we call “the trades.”

You see, now I am one of them. One of you. I have just blogged about home renovation.

The outlaw era is over. Pass the Mandals.


So Much

Family man, be grateful for family.
& front row parking on rainy days.

Barack Hussein Obama, I’m so grateful for him.
Talk about your thankless jobs.

and Oprah Winfrey and those Down’s Syndrome cheerleaders-
Punk rock music and scotch by the liters.

Knee pads for tile
Oysters and Crystal

a trail unfolding in front of my wheel
a place on the internet to write what I feel.

Even when it doesn’t rhyme at all.


Alpine vs. Siege

The late Alex Lowe, great American alpinist, used to jog the approach trails in the Tetons before summitting multiple pitches of rock to stand atop one of the grand 14’ers of the Rockies. By the time I made it to the trail by 10:00 A:M he would be descending from the summit at a brisk trot with a pack as small as Mary J. Blige’s lipstick case.

From this move fast-go light school of thinking came the term “going alpine.” When you and a buddy walk into a bar and he immediately approaches the prettiest woman in the room and buys her a drink, you say, “Whoa! Dude went alpine!”

Last year we rode San Felasco “alpine.” Under resourced, overpowered, and with little or no breaks. It worked out.

Sir Edmund Hilary, great Kiwi alpinist, laid siege to the mountains. His was a triumph of logistics and acquisition of resources as much as a triumph of physical prowess. Sir Edmund succeeded because he overwhelmed each successive challenge with resources. More Sherpas, more oxygen, more fixed lines, and eventually the summit comes to you. This approach is called “laying siege.” When your buddy goes to the same coffee shop every day to see the girl at the counter and chat about the weather, he is “laying siege” as in, “Hey, where did Juancho go?” “He’s laying siege to Starbucks up on Monroe St. , he likes the new barista.”

This year the facts are stark. I might ride twice before the big event. My only option for San Felasco is the siege method. I am bringing a Coleman stove, a pot of chili, 4 extra pairs of socks, sleeping bag, dental floss, and nasal spray.

That finish line is going to come to me.


The Alamo

San Antonio, Texass,

I’m shacked up across the street from the Alamo, which has some sort of significance in American history. From what I remember, the Alamo symbolizes the ultimate crash and burn. It is the go big or go home of the western story. Davy Crockett might have killed a bar when he was only three, but Santa Anna and his gang wrote the final chapter at the Alamo.

In the great American tradition of claiming failures as successes, “Remember the Alamo” became the battle cry that spurred Sam Houston’s forces to overrun Santa Anna and claim Texas for the Anglos, who previously struggled to adapt to the Mexican culture. Go figure.

As January draws nearer with rides foregone and forgotten, an entire lifestyle sacrificed for home and work, my throat rings hoarse in my thoughts-



Cheaha ’09

It is time for the annual Cheaha trip, a retreat, a little break.

With two houses in stages of disarray, a work schedule that shows me more ports of call than a professional port-caller, and an extra-tropical storm blowing through the entire southeast region, I am still going.

Got to. Gotta. Has to happen.

I’m working on material. “If Ida known it was going to rain so much Ida brought an umbrella!” Go ahead- now you try it.

We are going to Cooper Creek, north of Dahlonega, GA and if any of you would like to join us, then load up. The weather should be clearing by tomorrow, and we will only have to deal with the mud left behind from 2 inches of rain. I have a set of Continental Edge tires and I’m looking forward to ravaging the trails with those flippers on the Titus.

Riding has been catch as catch can this fall due to life-changing maneuvers, (Yo, that Juancho be makin’ moves dog!) I need to ride myself back into the general vicinity of sane.



I worked in restaurants for 13 years so I know a thing or two about service. I’ve done every job there is in a restaurant; clean the mats, pick the chicken (after you wash your hands from cleaning the mats) cutting the wedding cake, mixing the Hurricanes, and fetching more creole mustard for the conch fritters. Without a doubt I prefer the front of the house action to the kitchen. For me, cooking is like a prayer, and most of the chefs I worked with treated cooking like a curse. Give me the turn and burn, deep in the weeds, wild-eyed Friday night fat roll of bills in my pocket. I like the 10 top, 8 top double seating slam. I dig service.

I take that spirit into my job now as I plan events and cater to the whims of social workers, some more deserving than others, just like in the restaurants. It’s not for me to judge their worth, but just to sling them the best hash on the hottest plates I can find. My life as a waiter keeps me humble (and proud as any server will tell you, we know we are so much better than all of you!)

I tell you this because yesterday morning I was awake and setting the table for 60 young volunteers, new to the field, preparing to go out and perform public service. They were tasked with planning an event for MLK Jr. Day. As you may have heard there is a push to consider it a day “on” instead of a day off. They pitched their ideas to me; walk-a-thons, anti-hate rallies, building challenge courses, all very ambitious and complex. I told them over and over, “That’s great. Best of luck, but service can be simple.” They were less impressed with simple.

After this meeting ended I walked to an Irish Pub with a colleague for a celebratory pint of Guiness at 11:30 A:M. Trust me it was well-deserved.

While enjoying the morning sun, watching bubbles rise up the sides of my pint, two young dudes roll up on mountain bikes, park them in the bar and join us outside with pints of their own. We talked bikes and toasted the beautiful morning.

We all paused to notice a homeless man walking along the sidewalk across the street. One of the kids (about 20?) jumped up with his backpack and trotted over to this guy. He pulled out a baggy with a PB&J and other little snack items and offered it to the guy. He took it. The kid ran back to us.

What the hell? Who would be out urban shredding, drinking beer in the morning, and giving out sandwiches? Irish Missionaries? So we asked them what their deal was, what was the catch?

They said they ride downtown every Saturday morning, hucking off of corporate art and rolling manuals off the bus mall curbs. They always see a lot of homeless folks and they thought it would be fun to pass out sandwiches while they rode.

Service is just so simple.


Spun Out: deconstruction of a blog post.

Begin the blog post with nostalgia and catharsis before moving on to describe the conflict between sameness: Cheaha Trip, San Felasco vs. anniversary of election of president Obama and Project HOUSE.

Segue into a colorful series of observable detail from recent rides, lamenting the lack of time, opportunity, commitment, nutrition (reference bike blogs for details.)

Continue to mask thoughts and emotions behind avatar/caricature “Juancho.”

Try not to fall off the ride.



It is comfortable, you have to admit that. Your toes all warm and snuggly in wool socks, but still able to wriggle around and breathe the fresh air from a sandal-based platform.

What does not look comfortable is S’quatch’s bike, the Punisher, which threw him from the saddle yesterday at Munson and taco’ed his front wheel.

A fully rigid 29’er, it even sounds unpleasant- might as well ride the partially turgid 35’er. Oh well, a man has to learn to fork his own broncs in this life.