Monthly Archives: December 2011

Flying Circus

Dogoby, Tom, and I just rang in the new year with a blistering show of single track flexing down at the parks. I came straight from a chicken plate and if I could ride like that every time I ate fried chicken, I would eat fried chicken more often. Thanks Zaxby’s. Most of us are tuning up for San Felasco, and likely peaking too early. That’s just the way of it. If I don’t end up alone and crying on the trail at some point then it isn’t San Felasco. And who cares really? We rode well today. Live for the the day and all of your yesterdays will be good memories and all of your tomorrows will be full of hope.

I heard that somewhere. Happy New Year everyone. Chins up. Best efforts.


Saddle Tramps

We rolled out from the center of town and within 5 minutes I was in unfamiliar territory. Years of riding the same crosstown routes makes all other choices invisible. As soon as we dropped into the trail behind Leon High School I was moving in an alternate reality. The same landmarks along the way, but an entirely different perspective. It was bumpety bump and clackety clack for quite a long time, interrupted by a tour of the steepest hills in town. By the time I saw a familiar trail it felt like we had ridden to Thomasville by way of Albuquerque.

I was the only one riding little wheels I think. The rest of them were loping along on their gangly 29’ers. It didn’t matter. The Titus tracks like a laser and I jumped from wheel to wheel like a red sucker fish. What? I took a turn now and then.


Hard Rock

Hard Rock has a soft spot for my girl. I understand. He sees in her the same things I do. She’s compassionate and funny, strong-willed and a natural beauty. She’s too good for either of us, but things just worked out right for me. Sometimes things just work out right for one person and not for another. There is no easy explanation. Not a lot of things seem to have worked out for Hard Rock.

Good luck in rural Alabama has something to do with being born into the right family, or maybe it’s about not being born into the wrong family. That ain’t everything, but it gives a person a fighting chance to make it to the starting line. Hard Rock looks like he had to whip every dog in the county just to get to breakfast. He’s dirty in a way that can’t be easily washed off, and he is too young by many years to be missing his teeth.

Hard Rock assesses me with a cold eye, seeing a bespectacled man in a fuzzy sweater who gets to hold hands with the girl he admires.

He pulls a pistol out of his camouflaged folds. He wants to sell it to me. I feared he was only going to offer me the bullet. He wants $150 for it. The pistol will accommodate a 45 slug or a 410 Shotgun shell, but I decline. He shrugs, “Suit yourself” then asks cordially of our life in Tallahassee. We shake hands. “Nice to meet you Hard Rock, I’ve heard a lot about you.”

We have a beer and chat by the fire, as Hard Rock is primarily an outdoor guest. He’s completely full of shit, as good storytellers must often be. He gets a check every month, but it doesn’t go far, which is why he really needs to sell that gun.

I don’t know a lot of people who would open their doors to a guy like a Hard Rock and treat him as a friend. He does what friends do though, he lends a hand, bums a smoke, and tries to tread lightly when the women are around. If he asked you for change on a street corner you wouldn’t give him a nickel.

Bobby, my girl’s daddy, has a soft spot for Hard Rock, and don’t let him catch you bad-mouthing Hard Rock. Bobby sees the man inside the man, which may be his gift. He is the one who gave Hard Rock his name, recognizing that his old name had not done him much good to that point.

I think about the siege of Sarajevo, when good citizens got murdered in the streets and starved as polite society collapsed around them. It was the miscreants, the criminals, and the outcasts who rose up and defended the city.


Fill the Bucket

5 days before Christmas and you think I’m going to play the organ grinder reel about how the holidays are supposed to be about things that matter, but instead we get all caught up in the guilt of impossible to meet obligations and the frenzy of mass consumerism? Please. 5 days before Christmas and you think I’m going to ring my silver bell of charitable acts and try to make you cry talking about lonely elderly neighbors and kids with empty stockings hanging on a cold hearth? Not today. Let’s just have a conversation about a bike ride instead. I showed up at Dogboy’s house a few minutes early on Sunday 5 lbs overweight and tired from the ride the day before. I’m nothing if not strong at the gallows step and too proud to hide. I drove past a couple of the bike church boys on my way there, so I already knew what I was in for- a long drop on a short rope. The great reckoning ride of payback. Tommy rode up, and I was glad to see another bike with 26″ wheels, and then a fellow on a 1988 Cannondale Beast of the East rode into the driveway. He dropped me on a previous ride so I knew not to get my hopes up. I was determined to take my shot to the ‘nads and go home hardened by my shame, with a cold eye towards San Felasco. We discussed a route and I breezily suggested a course that kept me firmly established in a close orbit to my 1998 GMC Safari (Van of Champions.) My suggestion fell so short of the expected mileage that it was met with open whooping– that Juancho! He’s so silly! Dogboy cut the chuckling short and announced we would be riding east the way I suggested, by an amended route that took us far to the north, in view of Santa’s workshop. My bowels felt loose at the sound of shoes engaging pedals. It was too late to de-chamois and un-bib so I resigned myself to crouching in the poison ivy at some point in the ride, preferably alone and well-dropped by that point. This never became a problem as my body recycled all of that matter back through the system to absorb remnant micro-nutrients as the pace demanded more power. Within minutes of leaving the Dogboy’s house I was hanging on, lost in a town I have been in 24 years. I decline to comment on the specifics. There will be no Garmin map of the this ride. The wheels anoint the way as we go, and thus becomes the trail. Others may remember it differently, but the pace began at a high simmer. The first dirt we saw was my old friend the Live Oak Connector and I dropped into that oaken-rooted snarl with joy. Full-suspension and little wheels are assets in such terrain. I followed my favorite lines like summer’s hit song and my heart beat solid in my chest. Through Panther Creek and up over the power-lines Tommy blasted us with Dogboy whispering evil in his ear. I stopped caring what was in my tank and just enjoyed burning it up. We paced through traffic and neighborhoods, drainage and easements, park and parking lots both. I rode in the front and in the back. Thousands of pedal strokes later we rode into the familiar trails of the east side, my hopeful destination back at Dogboy’s house. By now mindlessly grinding and unconcerned with the fate of my legs, we ran into Bigworm, riding alone. We rallied behind his nimble wheel into the lower Cadillac trail and rode each to his own pleasure and pace. We rode some Tom Brown, then the Fern trail- for so long my trail to home, rewinding back through the years and the miles, playing the game of this has changed this has not, do you remember that? I remember this. Juancho


I am writing from behind the paper curtain so I can’t post a picture to accompany this post. If I could it would be a ball of yarn, snugly wound. Not too tight, just smartly gathered in a colorful ball ready to weave new stories.

I corrected the balance of my riding account this weekend, with the support of everyone around me. I had a great 3 hours out with Hitops and Squatch on Saturday in an old-fashioned south side wander, followed by an epic 3.5 hour exploration of the Tallahassee underground at the Dogboy Invitational on Sunday.

I will tell you all about it later. All of this typing is making the man suspicious. Productivity intimidates. If they only knew!

Everything is going to be okay.


Good Fences

I live in a house inside a neighborhood. It is part of a community.

Our 8 year-old neighbor girl invited us to a potluck dinner at her elementary school last night. Because I am no longer a curmudgeon, but one half of a hilarious and charming couple, I attended. We ate chili and talked to my neighbor, whom I have spoken to almost not at all in three years. The event was held in honor of the school chorus, and hosted by the indefatigable Music teacher, Mrs. Singleton.

Mrs. Singleton appeared to be in her mid to early teens. Her husband, Mr. Singleton, was the star of the evening when he played a few holiday numbers on the saxophone for the assembled, bedraggled parents + two neighbors. I told Melissa, who doesn’t have a blog name yet, that I felt bad for only bringing a veggie tray and oatmeal cookies since I was slamming down chili, ham, and mac-n-cheese. She said, “Did you notice how many people didn’t bring anything?”

You know, I didn’t notice, but she was right. Lots of people looked like they had just come winging in from bad jobs after picking up the smaller kids. For some of the families there, this Choir Potluck was a bonanza. I forget that these are really hard times, like no joke difficult times. There were tables of food. Cupcakes and chicken wings, rice and some fresh greens from someone’s garden. Kool-aid and my oatmeal cookies, plenty of food really.

The little neighbor girl was shy, but she tracked me down a cup of water because homie ain’t drinking kool-aid. I think she and her mom were shocked to see us. I wanted to tell them, “If you haven’t noticed, there is a new sheriff in town.” We live in this neighborhood now, like– we do our living in it.

Mrs. Singleton, browbeating the tired parents to get their asses out the door and eat chicken wings, that’s more Christmas spirit than I have felt in a long time.

Go Hawks!



Let’s go back to my first yoga class. Walking out of the intro class grateful to have found something to hold onto in the midst of chaos. To lie on the mat and fold into myself for a few minutes at a time felt like the greatest gift. Walking out of that class I could overhear the muffled moans coming from the next room and I knew that something special was happening in there. I assumed I would never know.

Months went by and the people at the studio encouraged me to try everything, go to any class, do what you can and learn. It’s not a contest. There are no points in yoga, and all that other cliche yoga bullshit that I now put forth as my own founding principles and personal Magna Carta. All of it is true and it takes a lot of effort to push aside cynicism and hear the voice of sincerity.

Tonight, in that class I never thought I would be able to survive, after 75 minutes of submission and surrender to discovering the further limit, the teacher told us he was leaving for the Badlands, Oklahoma specifically, which is bad enough for me. He said that teaching us yoga has been the greatest reward in his life, and something he never thought he would be able to do. This class in particular, known only as CORE, has served as a testing ground for many people looking to find what they had inside themselves.

At 41 years old it is hard to be a student, and harder to find teachers. I don’t know this guy beyond “Give it all you’ve got” and “Find some stillness” but between those words is a lifetime of learning. Thank you John Hazelton.

Y’all ready to go?



When I submitted my application to ride the Tour de San Felasco I kissed off all hope of being in good form on January 14, 2012. The Great Magnet despises hubris.

It can’t be helped though, so I hung on to whichever wheel I could get this morning and gutted it out through a grim 1 hour and 15 minutes of ride time for a total of 12 miles, if you can believe Tom’s bike computer- which I for one, can not believe.

I felt really good for the first 18 minutes, then I don’t know what happened. More importantly though, I have made a significant biological discovery. My left leg, often referred to as King in my narrative, is weaker than my right leg, which by default is known as Kong. This, the naming of the legs, we can blame on someone- the Greeks. Not only are they culpable for a global financial collapse, they also introduced writing from left to right. Reading, of course, was forced to fall in line much like I will be forced to fall in line, when the truck points south on January 13th.

I can let go of San Felasco, release the line and watch it drift away, but my asymetrical pins? I can not forget. I am left-handed. Do you suppose my right side is stronger because I expect it to take the brunt of the burden the world hurls my way? Is it protecting my dexterous, nimble left side?

Have I sustained more left-sided injuries over the years and debilitated my left leg’s endurance by eroding the gristle and sinew that binds it together? Is it now loose like an old ball glove, hot dog bun fingers splaying apart?

I do not know why it is, but I must accept it as true. Yoga reveals the truth, and the yogi must accept it. Don’t use the body to get into the posture. Use the posture to get into the body.

Come on King! I need you buddy.


Company Man

Yes! All Glory to the Company and Celebrate the Opportunity to Work!

Thank you to the most benevolent leaders for the 36 minutes of bicycle pleasure that was most enjoyable last week. Happily I strive to bring honor to the organization and woe to her foes.

Let me hear from the daily commuters, the riders who pedal in darkness, the pre-dawn swimmers, and the trainer jockeys. My days of mid-day miles are over for now. Working from a specific location is 20th Century. I might as well be driving a mule team to the potato farm.

Why do we do it? Not because we are at our most efficient separated by sheets of drywall, but because land-line telecommunications used to dictate our work geography. Live “meat-based” meetings can still be scheduled and conducted for the anachronistic, organism-reliant as necessary. Why do we fight the battles of tomorrow with the weapons of yesterday? Come, meet me in cyberspace, where the trade of ideas occurs.

Let us save the meat for celebrating the biosphere and reveling in the terrestrial and carnal delights.


The Boom Bap

The parade was over and the air was cool for such a warm December evening. We sat down right in the road on the front line with the scrambling babies catching beads and candy. We chided sullen majorettes, “Happy faces ladies!” We hooted for middle school bass drum players snatching to pull their pants up between beats.

Walking back to the car we heard the rolling snares and rising tenor of horns coming from a dark parking lot a few blocks ahead. Another competing rhythm rose between the downtown buildings and something stirred in me.