Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Notion

“Pennies in a pile make a dollar after a while.” -Dwayne Murray

Eighty-five dollars is a lot of change, accumulated an empty pocket at a time on top of the dryer. We joked about cashing it all in on a weekend getaway months ago, and there we stood on our gulf-side balcony looking out at a stormy, cold sea. Molly Ringwald cooed in the background about Blaine to Harry Dean Stanton, and the four of us were content and happy.

There is a restaurant in Apalachicola called The Owl, and I would like to live there, in some room behind the wine cellar. After the drive down U.S. 98, which is one of the best drives in the country, we set up on a couple of stools at the new Tap Room and enjoyed a perfect bar room moment. A Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale for myself and a working class Yuengling for my beloved. The room feels like a snug berth in a ship, with a tall ceiling and the mingling scents of beer yeast and aged wood. Clinking glass, murmuring conversations, and a cold, light rain splattering the windows. A perfect tavern moment, and rare to be repeated.

We felt it in our knees-



I need to correct an oversight.

Last Saturday I rode with Mystery (the Un-tameable Stallion.) In a 3.5 hour cross-town epic we dueled it out in Match Play format. I’m talking about bare-knuckle, unchecked aggression. We reached into that ride’s chest, pulled out its beating heart, and showed it to it before it expired. 30+ miles of pain cave riding on road, trail, field, parking lot, and industrial wasteland. We hit single track, long-forgotten seams and easements, deep sand, and the fringe corners of the 1%’ers domain. Yeah, I pushed him a up a hill towards the end, but he wasn’t asking for charity, I just gave it of my own free will.

I don’t know how to make it happen on command, and that’s good. If I could buy that high at will I would be in the alley behind Chik-Fil-A shooting it up all day.

There are rides, and then there are rides, and that- brothers and sisters, was a ride.



Back when I first started riding the Munson Hills trail back in a time I call the early 1990’s, I would put some Dinosaur Jr. in the Discman and roll around those woods like it was the edge of the world. If you ventured off of the main loop onto a forest road or motorcycle trail you were taking a chance of spending the next 3 hours trying to find your way back to town. When it rained the trail was fast, and when it didn’t rain the trail was slow and soft.

We wore Hi-Tec soft hiking boots in toe clips, and carried a backpack full of provisions. Day old bagels for energy and water in any container that could hold water.

Now Munson is an artificial race track, very fun, but no longer of the forest. You are separated from the Prana by 7.5 miles of screaming fast red clay. There is still an entire forest to explore, but I don’t think you are supposed to ride bikes beyond the red line. If you want a little taste of the old ways, and almost nobody does, you go slog it around the Twilight trail, then check it off the list for the year.

These folks in Brooksville better keep their 60+ miles of sand and pine needle trail under wraps. Gentrification will not stand for it. If the sport of mountain biking is going to progress we will need to pave away the slow and make the trails more competitive or fun, I’m not sure which is the goal. I’m stuck on mountain biking as a sport. For me that is like calling prayer a sport. Sure, I like to pray as fast as the next guy if I can, but I always wash my feet before entering the temple and I always say amen when I am done.

Crooms is an old-Florida temple. I only saw about 15 miles of it, and I guess I missed the big quarry pit action, but what I rode today was the cinnamon and sugar of my youth. Silent and smooth, with 17 turkeys and a bull fox squirrel as my witness I prayed for each and every one of your souls.


The Golden Thread

I ran into an old acquaintance at the coffee shop this morning, and heard yet another version of the recession blues. This guy is thinking about Korea, and teaching English, because he can’t find work here. Another friend, the J.J., landed in China this week to begin 10 months as an English teacher as well. If I was a rabid Ron Paul libertarian, I would take a moment to discuss the irony of us training people abroad to take our jobs, but I don’t actually believe that.

More interesting to me was this brother’s mention of a “golden thread” that runs through all of his work experience and life interests. I asked him what he has been doing, and what he is looking to get involved in, and his answer ran broadly from one thing to another. “I know it sounds all over the place, but there is a golden thread that runs through all of it that I see as my unifying theme.” I won’t share his golden thread here, but it started me thinking about my own golden thread.

Another friend, Kelly Boehmer, sews horrifically beautiful sculptures by hand, with red thread always. Red thread is her golden thread.

If I value anything, I value service and creativity. I am buttressed by one, and grab for the other however I can, but sometimes I wish it was the other way around.



This is just going to be a fanboy letter to Danny MacAskills so feel free to move on down the internet to more enlightening fare like this. If you are not familiar with the young Mr. MacAskill, he is just a Scottish kid with a bicycle. Maybe it is the emo soundtrack, or the moody skies of Europe that set the stage for his inspired videos, but I feel compelled to make a pilgrimage to see him ride. Like a solar eclipse or the northern lights sometimes one must make a hajj. What this guy has, it is bigger than bikes. He expands the realm of the possible.

There are riders down all over town right now. Laid up in armchairs eating pot pies, they are sulking and frustrated. Broken collar bones, impaled shins, dislocated shoulders, and black eyes. Tallahassee rides hard. Mother gravity levies her tax. Nobody is exempt, not even Danny. To watch him ride though, is to understand that the immutable laws of nature can be reasoned with, and deals can be struck.

I wish all of the injured the best in their renegotiation.



There must be something in the water down there in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Ft. Pierce, Stuart, Jensen Beach, Ankona?

If I am a rich man, and I most certainly am, it is because of my wealth of friends. Not my wealthy friends mind you. If we all pooled our resources we might be able to purchase a time share on a small island, but there will be no common paradise where we build our walls against the world.

Jensen Beach,and its surrounding communities, produce a disproportionate number of these friends. These are not only the good people you meet out for dinner, but the ones you plan conspiracies with, hiding the bodies of your best misdeeds. Locals from this region act local everywhere. They speak a Khoisan patois that adapts yet remains fundamentally recognizable to all who grow up there. A mountain soda is an orange whip is a tall blonde.

My closest conspirator noted of one friend in particular, “He’s the kind of guy who is the beginning and end to a lot of stories.” The same could be said of them all. They are pirates for the most part, ingenious miscreants who find a way. There are some benevolent vandals and outlaws. They are black saints, sinner ladies, and citizens of Middle Earth. They maraud about the world buying drinks (or having drinks bought more likely.) Picking up shovel or sword, they are up for the task at hand.

So let’s hear from them if we may, what is it about that place?


A Magnificent Obsession

There was so much going on this weekend I passed myself on the road at least twice, and once I saw me give myself the middle finger. “Why the nerve of that guy!” fastidious me thought to himself, and “Screw that dude!” hardcore me thought back. Together we managed to get a lot done. We hosted the sale of a 1971 VW Bug between family members and nobody got shot. We delivered 13 members of the above glam-rock Cirque de Silly act GlITTER CHARIOT to the stage Friday night, or as close as we could drive the boom bus to the stage through the crowd of 5,000 at Railroad Square. We chased a hate-fueled Mystery for 22 miles on Saturday through the ruins of abandoned suburbia east of town, then managed dinner with the gathered clans and front row seats to a lights-out performance of GC at Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack. Tucked in at midnight, then up for the final touches on the towing arrangements for the VW. We squeezed, or maybe squozed another funsies lap at the park with Tommy-boy, who had just finished running a half-marathon his own self.

Heard the news about two trail brothers going down hard, one with a separated shoulder, the other with contusions, blood, and whatnot. The bench is piling up with the maimed and mangled and it’s early yet. Still had time to write in fragments, not sentences.

Time to get serious about a new bike, and that’s the real story here.



500 miles up and down U.S. Highway 19 and this is only Tuesday. You might think this is a picture of all of the deer we saw along the highway, contemplating a prance into the headlights. It might also be a view from the tree stand, where many of my old riding buddies are spending their days this winter. I might think it resembles the stares of my remaining ride buddies who wonder what happened to the old Juancho, man of a thousand excuses, as they search for a gear to make the pain go away.

It’s just a bunch of deer though, because I don’t truck in excuses and metaphors anymore. I just tell it like it is.

Now that every ride counts, every ride really counts. I take to the bike like a man afire and rack it reluctantly when it has to end. I think I need some bike church to take me down a notch, otherwise I am going to ride to the pole barn in Reddick or maybe To Hell and Back with Bicycle House.

Big talk for a man who ate BBQ in Dixie County twice in three days. I don’t care, come shut me up, that’s what I say if you think you got it.

I hear talk of a race at Munson. I’ve never done an official mountain bike race in my 23 years in the saddle, but then again every ride is a race- against someone, everyone, yourself, even death her own self.

Come and get me