That place really freaks me out.
I can’t think of a scarier place to spend Halloween.
I could get a good rant going here, but that wouldn’t help me get in the truck.
If there is anything more popular than mountain bikes on 10th Avenue (and there are many) Dungeons and Dragons rules the roost. While I have one single day committed to riding with any particular person (No Mercy Monday), these guys have two nights committed to rolling the old 12 sided die, and that ain’t code neither. Wednesday and Sunday,over and over, week after week, until the end of time apparently.
I cooked a delicious pot of Redfish Chowder last night thanks to a contribution of Redfish from Dan-Dan the MexiCan, and thought it only fair to spread the joy and invite the neighborhood over. One by one they wandered in, and although I could not see their weapons, I could sense the danger of so many mighty warriors at one gathering.
“By Demon’s Fang this soup is good!” says a fighting Bugbear to my left as he slurps daintily from his bowl. “Yes”, agrees Half-Elf Atom Blackmour, “better even than the fare of Hairfoot the Stout of Vastonia!” Bottles of mead from many lands adorned the table. Miller Lite, Samuel Adams, Tecate; it was a breathtaking display of ancient cultures. They ate in great haste, as they heard Dwayne the Dwelve arrive in his brand new Toyota Scion. Pleased to have made it through the meal with no violence or sorcery, I hastily cleared the table as a friendly Half-nymph began scrubbing the dishes and stacking the bowls. Due to some spell from Myjesta’s Cauldron the traveling band appeared quite ordinary to the eye, but I could hear the faint swish of a cloak, the ching-ching-ching of chain metal brushing against sword hilt as they left. Strangely, all I could see were Ska t-shirts and Chuck Taylors.
3/4 -1 lb of whitefish/ chunked
4 slices of bacon
1 white onion
5-6 stalks of celery
bottle of clam juice
2 quarts of stock (I used chicken)
misc. seafood ( I threw in some canned oysters)
2 large Russet potatoes (1/4 inch cubes)
1/2 pint of cream
Render the bacon, then drain the fat off and remove the bacon. Add 1tblsp of the butter to the cracklins on the bottom of the pot. Saute the onion, celery, and carrot chopped fine/seasoned with Paprika, S & P, for about five minutes on high heat. Sprinkle about 2 Tblsp of flour over the veggies and continue to cook another 5 minutes or so. Slowly add the stock and clam juice and stir, be sure the heat is hot enough to deglaze the bottom of the pot with the liquid. Lower to a simmer, add the potatoes and allow them to cook a few minutes. Add the cream. Add the oysters, fish, etc. Chop the remaining bacon and prosciutto as well as the parsley. Let the chowder simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes. When it achieves a creamy consistency, stir in the bacon, prosciutto, parsley.
Serve with crusty bread, Saltines, or Oyster Crackers.
Protected by a cold front, hurricane Wilma never had a chance of coming our way. The 20-30 mph winds blowing yesterday were brisk and biting, elevating my hunker down factor to a strong 9 out of 10. In fact, when the call I dreaded came in, the tub was full of hot, coconut-scented bubbles, and an uncracked novel lay on the edge. Monday is supposed to be a recovery day. Everybody knows that.
…Except for that one guy, who only rides on Mondays. For him, Monday is a day for teeth-gnashing and demon bashing. There’s nothing like a catholic who doesn’t go to church to stoke the coals of self-flagellation. With wistful chagrin, I pulled the cork on the tub and watch all that relaxation drain away for nothing. I pull on my purple Joe’s jersey, the stinkenest piece of synthetic clothing on the planet, and start digging for a clean pair of socks.
Like I said, the wind was blasting, and at first we just rolled out to Lake Lafayette like friends, trading the pulls, pushing it a bit, but definitely not racing or even hammering. It was all nice nice. We stopped at the turnaround tree and made some adjustments, watching the wind sheer across the water in marauding gusts. Slipping past the editor, my mouth said-“Let’s ride every piece of singletrack out here on the way back.” Into the woods we rolled. This guy is sick, there’s something the matter with his brain, the part that interprets pleasure from pain. We hit every log, every steep and root-mazed climb. By the time we exited the Cadillac trail region I felt more than satisfied…and then he turned onto the Tom Brown course at the very bottom of the hill and began climbing. This trail is so washed out in places that every pedal stroke is accompanied by a sucker punch to the kidneys. I hung on with murderous intent. By the time we finished we had laced our way through every piece of trail east of Capital Circle. “That was like riding a motorcycle!” he says. “That was awesome, like flying!” he says.
As my wind came back to me and I pulled my overalls on, my senses returned and I discreetly dropped the log I was holding as a potential bludgeoning tool. “Yeah, that was good stuff, thanks man”.
I just have to learn, Monday is no rest day. It’s No Mercy Monday.
Oh, and I saw a Bighorn sheep out there too, no lie!
Two years ago, right after I got my brand new, forest green Jamis Eureka, I rode out to Silver lake by myself. I had been out of the saddle for a while at that time, and I was woefully out of shape. Now, Silver lake is nothing special. It damn sure isn’t silver. I had it figured to be about a 26 mile round trip, along the highway for most of it. A miserable route for a miserable rider. I chugged along Highway 20, an area known locally for prolific methamphetamine production and consumption, passing the occasional: dirty diaper chucked from a window, rotting opossum bearing a bloated belly to the sun, sanskrit pattern of fried chicken bones, sun-bleached Mountain Dew cans, and broken glass ground fine-crunching beneath my knobbies.
I needed a goal, and Silver lake was what came to me. The destination was arbitrary. I expected nothing but mundane pedaling, and possibly a swim in the tannic water before coming home. I ate my lunch of two granola bars and a can of coke alongside the powerlines in the shade. I was almost to the Silver lake cut-off and feeling pretty good all things considered.
I surged with new energy as I turned onto Silver Lake road and stroked my biggest gear, gliding down the long hill which ultimately ends at the lake. In a tuck, shaded eyes peering over the handlebar, I spotted a deer in the road up ahead. No wait, that isn’t a deer, it’s a dog. A big black dog. As I got closer, I could see the swishing of a long cable-like tail as a big cat, finally catching my scent, turned to assess me. I was closing in fast, too fast to stop or slow down, and for a moment I considered the fantastic possibility of colliding with, with what? A Florida Panther? The panther-like tail, hanging low and curling at the end was distinct, and the cat stood 3 feet tall at the shoulder, but it was black. Now I’m a Florida native, growed up in rural central Florida, and I had never heard of any black Florida panthers.
I made up my mind to stay on course, hold my ground and get as close as possible to the cat, hoping it would be more frightened than provoked. With less than fifty yards between us the cat spooked and bounded from the road in two easy, loping leaps. I rolled into the Silver lake parking lot with nothing to do but turn around and head for home, contemplating the certainty that nobody was likely to believe me, already hearing my eco/biologist friends explain away what was obviously a full grown black panther roaming the scrub oak and trailer parks of the Highway 20 scene.
Stealthily yours and glad to be back, Juancho
Biscuits and gravy sits atop the heap, above all other breakfast foods. When the weather begins to chill, and the rides grow in length, biscuits and sausage gravy is the best way to start the day. In fact, during the summer, I’m at a loss many mornings as to what to eat before a big ride. Lesser foods like cereal, yoghurt, bagels, whoop-e-di-doo! They just don’t get the job done like a bowl of buttermilk biscuits drowning in a spicy milk gravy. I’ve met a few folks who would try to explain why this is actually not the way you want to eat before a long day of exercise, but these are also the people who consider cycling a “sport” and their body some kind of touchy machine, like an MG, or a space shuttle. Glycogen, lactic threshold, and other modern lies are no more relevant to the truth than phlogiston, or oat bran.
Endurance mountain biking has more in common with lumberjacking, or post hole digging, or riding the rough string down through the Pecos valley than it does with flyfishing, pilates, or any number of other more esoteric concerns. A full belly is what’s needed, if you’re going to survive the day. As for the naysayers, the blood pressure regulators, and the 1 to 4 protein to carbohydrate monitors, I don’t want to hear it. It’s biscuits. It’s gravy. You know what it does and can do. Can you say the same for Red Bull? Power bars? Goo??? (Grown-ups should not eat baby food, it is unseemly, like watching a grown man suck his thumb.)
Now, in a longstanding BigRingCircus tradition, I’m going to ask a question for the majority of you to ignore, and the same loyal crew to dutifully answer because they will hear about it in person if they don’t…What is your performance enhancing drug?
I’m battered and marked up from the LOC trail, which collected it’s blood tax on me yesterday. We saw some familiar faces out there, which is uncommon. I never see anybody out there for the most part. The word must be getting around that it is smooth as Bill Clinton now, thanks to our hard work.
Random and unrelated, but telling quote: Sasquatch to his wife after returning from a ride’ “I really am a road biker!” As if we didn’t know all along. The bidding for his Gary Fisher 29’er will start at $1.00.
Juancho-Out until Thursday because I tour harder than the Rolling Stones.
This image shows the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit’s view of the rocky terrain that lies between it and its intended target, the large crater dubbed “Bonneville.” The landscape here is roughly two times as bumpy and more difficult to traverse than that crossed so far.
Me and my buddy, Mystery-the untameable Stallion-rode out to the LOC (Live Oak Connector) yesterday and cleared a modicum of debris from the trail. We rode some lines we hadn’t explored in many years, if ever. Rickety stick bridges over a gully, steep off camber drops into creek crossings, this trail keeps you busy. To borrow from the rock-climbers rating system, the LOC is a solid 5.10 trail. Like the surface of Mars, it is quite bumpy. Perhaps that is why I ride it. I am training to ride on Mars. While S’quatch and his road bike buddies (whoever they are) wait for Martian roads to be built, I will be riding on pure Martian soil in the “Bonneville Crater”.
There is a technique for riding a hardtail on terrain like this. You sit back, barely gripping the bars, and let the horse have it’s head. Too much weight forward and that’s where the Ooph! comes into play, as your gut makes contact with your stem.
No trail in town is more hated than the LOC. It will break a man down to trembling frustration. I once had to fix a broken chain deep in those woods, and as I worked I tried to ignore the carpet of mosquitos feasting on my eyes, flying into my nose, biting me under my helmet. The sweat ran free and salty into my eyes as well, and I worked at that chain stoic like a gravedigger. Believe me, the LOC has humbled me often. That’s why I’m declaring it my new favorite trail.
See you out there.
Juancho-crunchy, not smooth.
Travel used to exhilarate me, now it is coming home that brings the thrill. Oh, to travel is still a blessing. Travel is a chance to hold thoughts and ideas, preconceptions and notions, up to those of others, declare the others’ to be wrong, and then get the hell back home.
I have barricaded myself in for the day, and unsuspecting visitors are likely to be met with a predictably hostile response. The sky is gray, the air is cool, and my legs feel as fresh as two loaves, straight from the oven. Two gigantic, steel-cored, pedal-crushing loaves-straight from the oven. All I need is a cup of this chicory blend coffee, a bowl of grits, a few more hours of sleep and I should be back to normal, and awake in time for the Monday throwdown.
When I got home last night, my friends-all grown men-were settling in as usual for an evening of rolling dice and deciding the fates of their imaginary elves, I mean selves. I was all but trampled during the elaborate preamble of assigned seating, pizza ordering, and refrigerator real estate jockeying. I slunk back to my cave and rolled the rock over the opening. I will deal with them later.
Today is a brand new day, and it is good to be home.
Don’t forget, January 14, www.sanfelasco.net
I am all signed up, as is Pa Ingalls. The ride is limited to 400, and expected to fill up fast.
I can’t seem to resist the urge to type, Git ‘r done!
The Big Ring Circus is closed for cleaning and renovation. Sasquatch, as newly appointed head of security, will likely be available to answer your questions as needed. Riverboat, as our beloved janitor, will be shuffling about-swinging keys, leaning on his broom, and in general milking the clock. Here are some suggestions to help you get through this difficult time.
Read a book- and here’s a list of good ones I have enjoyed over the years.
Growth of the Soil- Knut Hamsun
Everything is Illuminated- Jonathan Safran Froer
Fortress of Solitude-Jonathan Lethem?
My Losing Season- Pat Conroy (insert joke here)
Blood Meridian-Cormac McCarthy
Huckleberry Finn-Samuel Clemens
Confessions of Nat Turner-Stegner?
The Air-conditioned Nightmare-Henry Miller
The collected works of Louis L’amour
That should do it.
You could also…
Learn to cook:
a nice pot of etoufee
Pot Roast w/ coffee gravy
Arroz con Pollo
Black bean Soup
Write your congresspersons, or learn who they are
Hang out with your dorky new road bike buddies
Listen to Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
Build a tree fort
Steal office supplies from work
Drink some Manhattans
Or a Robroy
Climb a water tower
Plan an ambitious outdoor adventure, and invite me-
But don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen.
The important thing to remember here is that Northwest Airlink is going to pay for what they’ve done to me. A cancelled flight left me stranded in Memphis Friday night, sequestered in a top secret hotel for angry people listening to the sound of planes taking other people to their destinations all night. I smell a ticket to San Diego in the offing. I just have to control my temper (which has a very long fuse for the most part).
Ma and Pa Ingalls from Reddick came up over the weekend. Pa has no respect for our local trail system because he has never ridden anything but Munson, which is tame unless you haul ass like the locals.
After a long late night at the Toasters concert, www.toasters.org sweating in the pizza oven-like venue, Pa and I stalked each other through the graveyard and the neighborhood, twisting ankles and missing tackles on the long walk home. Good clean fun.
After 3-4 hours of sleep we rolled out for ride time. It was a surly, swarthy-looking crew to say the least. Pa needed to be taught a lesson– a long, slogging, hot lesson.
The Live Oak Connector collected much tax with Pa skewering himself on a broken pine stump, me flying over the bars to avoid crushing Taco, and Shins ripping his shorts half off his ass without noticing. A lot of guys spent time in the dirt yesterday, and I don’t mean on their bikes.
Around mile 15 I knew we had Pa’s attention. He prefers the quick and dirty singletrack loop, complete with a drive to the trailhead if necessary. We gave him 4-lane highway traffic, concrete stair drops, bum trails, peloton smashing paces, singletrack, powerlines, and the like.
He was digging it. We agreed Tally has an excellent ‘wanderability’ quality to it.
When we got home that boy loaded up Ma Ingalls and hauled ass like the Indians were trying to take Laura and Mary.
Circus aficionado, Riverboat, has hung a shingle out over at:
www.riverboatadventures.blogspot.com and believe me, I am afraid.
I’m out of here tomorrow for the week so you know the deal; stale popcorn, broken Ferris wheel, fake giants, and shitty prizes for the rest of the week.
Juancho to go, biggie size it yo!