Monthly Archives: April 2012


Words have consequences. We met at the cement plant late in the morning yesterday. One of us was shaking off a hangover brought on by some extemporaneous guzzling the night before, and it wasn’t me. The other one was vectoring out of a deeper bender, the kind of spree brought on by a free weekend prior to the birth of a second child. Obligatory drinking. While laughing at the highlights of the night before, somebody got called a sorority girl, which immediately became shorthanded to Britney, as in, Brit got a little wasted last night and flashed everyone at the club. Two of us thought this was so hilarious we began to wear it out before it even got started. Britney, Britney, Britney all along the trail. Next thing we knew we were experiencing discomfort and stress. The sun was hot, the trail was sandy, and Britney was doing his level best to ride us into the ground and leave us for dead. You might wonder how someone can perform athletically after a hard night of drinking, but I am here to testify. Some of my best rides followed some of my worst nights. The self-loathing, the hate, the dull pain, it all servse to motivate the hungover rider, not to mention all of the carbs stockpiled for deployment. He could not be un-spurred, so we hung on and made the best of it. It was an eastside barnstormer. Weems, Falls Chase, Pedrick, Caddy, TBP you name it- he kicked our asses from stem to stern and gulley to gullet. It was fun while it lasted, but unlike the real Brit-girl, we retired that name after the ride. _Juancho

Bo Bikes Bama

Remember Bo Jackson? If not, he is a former pro athlete who is known for playing two professional sports, football and baseball. An icon in the 1990’s, Nike promoted the first cross training shoe (unfortunately, a hybrid) with the “BO KNOWS” campaign in which he co-starred with Blues legend Bo Diddley. None of this is of much interest to me, or to most of you, unless you happen to be from Alabama or more specifically, Auburn University. What is of interest to me is that he is quietly riding his bike through the region of Alabama destroyed by tornadoes a year ago. His goal is to bring attention to a much forgotten tragedy and raise money to help those communities recover. This touches a sensitive nerve for me. I know what it feels like to put yourself out there for a cause. I’ve hosted a flopped fundraiser or two, and experienced the pride of handing over a bag of cash to someone who needed it. Carrying the flag for a cause is a tough and noble thing. That’s why I appreciate Bo Bikes Bama. His fame is mostly behind him. He is a hometown boy, trying to do the right thing. The numbers are both impressive and small. At last check, he raised $372,000 from sponsors and contributors. That’s a lot of money if it is not passing through large aid agencies, and a pittance if it is. He is riding 300 miles, which is a good weekend for some riders I know, and an impossible distance for others. Bo has the backing of the Livestrong campaign, one of the BRC’s favorite punching bags. Lance, his excellency his own self, showed up to ride a leg with BO. I am thinking maybe Bo Jackson brings out the best in folks. Bo may know some things, but I know some things too. I care about Alabama, and I care about bikes, and I’m going to give Bo Jackson some cash because I think he will spend it where it needs to be spent. Ride Bo ride! Juancho

Something good is happening. I have slept through 4 of the last 180 nights, and that is a big deal. I thought those days were over and I was moving into the twilight of my years- soon to be doddering around in the night with a flashlight looking for dust motes to corral with my Swiffer. Maybe not. Exhaustion seems to be the key. Endless miles of interstate and coffee are a hell of a nightcap. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it. I feel like a $20 bill. This bike search is speculative and far-reaching, ranging all up and down the economic scale. First I lust over $4,000 machines, then I go Luddite and shop Craigslist for 1991 Bridgestone MB-4’s. Chances are I belong plumb in the middle of those options. I talked to a guy at a shop yesterday who preached the gospel to me about his carbon fiber hot rod. I hope he is as fast as he claims, because I have a $700 Redline that wants to find out. The forest ride is tonight, and I can already feel the gravitational pull of trees, the rising bile of lactic burn and seemingly endless flow. It does end though, mercifully, and it is always as good as a bike ride gets. Juancho

Something good is happening. I have slept through 4 of the last 180 nights, and that is a big deal. I resigned myself to

Talk to Me

In a peculiar and predictable twist, the universe made things difficult and parked the SCOTT BIKES demo truck at the Tom Brown Park trailhead on Friday. One thing led to another and three of us rode out on full suspension 29’er carbon fiber rigs. This was not even a consideration for me in the new dream bike project. But the smooth ride and the endorsement of such a monstrosity by trusted confidantes just makes everything more complicated. If there was only one bike in the world life would be so much easier. I would want it, and hopefully I could have it, and I would ride it. The end. That is not the case. There are many bikes in the land. To be honest, the big plush ride of the SCOTT was a little ho-hum, with so much speed for so little effort. What’s a ride without the numb hands and teeth-jarring impact of roots? Should all of that superior technology make me feel less connected to the trail? The sad fact of the matter is that if I can move across the surface of the earth a little bit faster than the day before I can learn to accept a less organic ride experience. Vanity wins the day. Full suspension big rigs are officially in the mix, and that means we are all the way back to the drawing board. -Juancho

Fixing the Problem

It is no secret I am hot and heavy in the market for a new bike. It is also a given that this bike will have big wheels. I have my eye on something like this-

I spoke with an old friend yesterday, who just secured the purchase of a new bike as well, pictured below. In one elegant leap, he is committing to all of the innovations he can combine into one bike- carbon fiber, full suspension, 29’er. It might as well be belt-driven. My goals are more modest, but we both acknowledged that moving to a big wheel bike is a recognition that we are entering a new era of riding. Nobody mentioned getting older or growing up, but there it was, malingering in the fiber optics along the thousands of miles between us. I felt a kinship, two maturing riders transitioning gracefully into the Master’s class.

Then he told me he underwent a certain procedure that sterilized his reproductive system. Hmmmmm? Was that required with the purchase of the 29’er? Are the two things related?


No Nets

I am on location in Ybor City, Tampa currently, which is an entirely uninspiring location. It might have offered something 50 years ago, or even ten years ago, but now it is officially a dud. Nike is getting into the skateboard scene, and Ybor is a parody of the culture that put it on the map. The sellout is complete. I hope someone got a receipt. Instead of offering further lament, I am going to share a private correspondence that I believe is inspiring- a message from a friend currently at large in China, and rediscovering the world at 146 years old.

what up lil biscuit eater…China is well…China. I am settled and excelling at teaching sophomores who ‘speaky no english very good’. My style of interaction is a hit with the 300 students to include 8 boys. Lots of young ladies who are very timid and sweet. All have adopted english names and most look alike. Huaibei Normal University has about 18,000 students most of whom are eager to say hello when we pass on campus. I have formed many impressions thusfar and believe on many fronts China has it right. There is no violence, crime in the streets and vulgarity. The students are wonderfully naive and eager to learn although scared to make mistakes, the whole ‘losing face’ phenomena.

They are genuinely astounded as to my experiences of travels and no wife or children. They have taken english since age 12 but have had little to no opportunities to speak it in conversation. Most believe that their second language skillz will provide them a better chance at landing a job. I am getting bits and pieces of information about both old and new China. What I love is that at the end of this year I will have come to some of my own conclusions of what is and isn’t.

I am playing on a faculty basketball team and we are old and rickity and terrible in leauge play, but beloved I feel. I play ball about three days a week with the zillions of boys/men that crowd the courts everywhere. Lots of goals but not a single net. They are delighted by my will and skill. Tenacious I still am with an authentic smile and clever passes. Feeling like I have purpose in my life and am delighted I got out of Myrtle in the nick of time.

Nothing but net in this email JJ, watch out for sharp and courteous elbows!


Narwhals Ride the Big Waves (dude)

Swimming out beyond the break is no big deal. Swimming back is what counts. That is what it feels like to be 12 trips into a 24 trip work schedule. You can get away with bringing your true love and a bicycle along sometimes, but most of the time you have to cover yourself in petroleum jelly and kick, kick, breathe. Kick, kick, breathe.

One of the first rules of blogging I learned was this.

1. Nobody cares about the weird dream you had last night.

What if it involved a surf contest though? In seriously heavy conditions? Cancelled by a massive pod of frolicking narwhals? What if you are both relieved and disappointed that the contest is cancelled, but also thrilled and exhilarated to watch the loping narwhals rolling and dropping into hotel-sized surf, and not 4 story zone restricted hotels, but an anything goes Myrtle Beach style condominium sized wave?

I get it. You still can’t expect anyone to care.

It’s like the contest organizer told me this morning with a shrug of his tanned and hairy shoulders, “What can we do man? Narwhals ride the big waves dude!”

So here we go. Iron the khakis, gas up the rental, run barefoot on the treadmill until you get blisters, and then swim back in with the tide.



There is no time for this today, but time be DAMNED! I will all caps it to the rooftops. Time must be made for things that matter. The Wrecking Ball’s knitting bones, and your denial of the significance of the internet and chicken, and how combined, they rule your world? These things matter.

I rode with S’quatch and ‘Tops on Saturday and it was like old times. I left the pack in the car and rode so light I forgot to suffer. Spring, spring, spring.

I am almost 42 years old, which will be older than my dad was when he was 41. Yesterday was my grandfather’s birthday, and he has been gone now for far too long, and it will only get longer from here. I stopped mid-stroke on Saturday to spot a Fat Grey Fox Squirrel as it spiraled up a longleaf pine. It seemed important to lay eyes on him again, and to say, I see you fat grey fox squirrel, so eat your pine nuts and swing in the breeze, but know that you were seen on this day, April 8, 2012 on the eve of my Papa’s birthday. I tease you in his honor, for he was mischievous and a friend to all squirrels.

Spring, spring, spring. I’m old for a young man, and to know so little about so much. The life is so short, and the craft takes forever to learn.


Welcome back

It poured rain yesterday afternoon, providing the easy out for anyone lacking the motivation to get out there. Indigo thunderboomers maneuvered over the south side like great battleships. 10 days off the bike, my longest break of 2012. I sat in the Munson parking lot, feeling like a chunky man in my funky van, ready for a little Soul-O ride.

I strapped my old cleats on and clicked my feet together to knock off the clay. I sniffed around to find that awful smell, which turned out to be my jersey. I checked my tire pressure, a perfect 70 lbs.

I would attempt to write some dialogue here, but man, that never works for me so I’ll just have to tell you. This dude, John Turner, rolled up and asked if I was riding alone. We easily agreed to roll out together and I thought briefly about stealing his lunch money. Instead, I found myself upside down with change falling out of my pockets before we got to the bench at the beginning of the trail. “I’m thinking Twilight will be nice after the rain.” He says. This is the classic upgrade gambit, and I respect the play immediately. I am tired, creaky, and just not feeling it, so of course I say, “Twilight sounds perfect.” With that I doubled my planned mileage, which paired nicely with the out of my league pace.

I shoveled extra coal to the furnace, and discontinued blood flow to my hands, feet, ears, ass, and right eye in order to keep John Turner in view. I recognized his name (not John Turner) and prayed that he was a known killer, a trail dingo of the first order, and not just another drive to the trailhead weekend warrior who was pulling my toenails out at the roots.

Halfway around Twilight we came to some agreement on the pace and enjoyed a little conversation. Both being men of the world, we traded stories of being unconscious in Spain and how we came to be at this common place and time (Tallahassee, FL 2012.)

At the juncture of the East Connector I laid down my king and we shook hands (fist-bumped.) Off he spun to finish the Twilight loop while I finished out Munson and humped it back to the van. I think we rode 14 miles in about 40 minutes so I will let you do that math.

Moral of the story- This town has a deep bench.