Monthly Archives: June 2011

Clydesdale Hall of Fame-Stetson Kennedy

Sometime in my twenties I discovered Stetson Kennedy, first by reading his book, The Klan Unmasked, and then The Jim Crow Guide to the South. At the time I had but two noble aspirations in my life- to be a writer and to be some kind of professional rabble-rouser. The internet had not been invented yet, and so the opportunity to do both of these things from the convenience of my underwear did not exist. The only supporting evidence I had to guide me were a collection of not that good short stories (because kids in their 20’s don’t know shit with rare exception) and a couple of train-wreck efforts at organizing to support various causes. I read Mr. Kennedy’s stark and simple prose where he described not the ideas of doing good work, but the actions. I resigned myself to trying the unglamorous hard way, and went to work at a runaway shelter instead of trying to advocate from afar like a celebrity. Homeless kids need good potato salad more than they need college kids writing stiff essays about their plight. I guess I hoped that by immersing myself in the work I might one day have something legitimate to say about it all. If you aren’t familiar with the life and legend of Stetson Kennedy, I invite you to spend a few precious Google minutes learning about his contributions to Florida especially, and to humankind in general.

Tomorrow night, at an art show curated by my friend Bill Bryson, the mayor of Hogtown, Stetson Kennedy will be opening the ball. This show, The American Dream, already stood to be an epic event without this surprise announcement. Mr. Bryson is a cultural curator, a deep thinker, and apparently a persuasive organizer. Stetson Kennedy recently marched in support of increasing the pay rate of farm-workers 1 penny for a pound of tomatoes. He is a gentleman of well-advanced age and yet he gets off the couch for justice. Decades after taking down the Ku Klux Klan, defending the Everglades, and mocking the hypocrisy of the Jim Crow South, he is still making his own potato salad.

He has lived my version of the American Dream for 95 years and I can’t think of a better way to honor our nation on this Independence Day weekend.


Check back later for a re-mix of yesterday’s Juancho vs. Dogboy ride.


I would have preferred the simplicity of a quick injection of human growth hormone but the excessive hair growth on my back and shoulders was interfering with my body’s natural ability to cool itself. Instead, I carefully removed the I.V. needle from the 2 pints of blood I purchased from some kid who deals it from the back door of his part-time job at a TCBY. He said he can run a mile in under 4 minutes so I figured it had to be pretty good. Big Worm said he was coming to the Munson Monday ride and I wasn’t taking any chances. I slapped a booster needle of EPO into my thigh and grabbed my gear when- BOOM! Lightning crackled throughout the neighborhood and the rain we have been waiting for came all at once. Nobody would be riding tonight, not on the artificial pitcher’s mound Munson has become. The trail would be a sticky mess.

There was no way to retract the increase in hemoglobin that made every deep breath taste like sweet cheesecake. I had to burn off the energy somehow so I did what anyone would do in my situation and I walked it off inside Joanne’s Fabrics. They didn’t ask me to leave until they ran the final batch report and rolled up the yards of chenille and chintz. The manager, a teenager with chipped, black fingernails told me I didn’t have to go home, but I couldn’t stay there and suggested I take it down the sidewalk to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I told her she wasn’t the boss of me and drove home in the rain. Eventually I slept, and dreamt of future glory.


I never saw it coming. When I reached out my hand to greet the Wrecking Ball before yesterday’s ride, he showed me a smile full of sharp teeth as he grasped my hand and pulled me towards him, planting his knee in my groin. Doubled over in pain, I tried to catch my breath until Big Worm brought his two big hams together over his head and clubbed me to the ground. “You ready to go for a ride now Juancho?”

After that it was body blows followed by haymakers, kidney punches and stomps to the in-step, dirty boxing and where did my lunch money go. Their other two friends would occasionally stand me up and shove me into a flying elbow. I was on Bikechain posse local terrain and they really dusted off the welcome mat for me.

I spit some teeth out and asked them, “is that all you boys got?”

It was the best ride of the week, no question.


Sweat Lodge

This whole town is soaking wet this morning, and the air is moving not one single knot. I suspended my penitent practices last night and enjoyed a few cold ones, so skipping a ride was not on the menu this morning. It is so steamy that my sweat was sweating. Oh well, I felt strong. I can’t wait for another three months to pass so I can enjoy another cold beer. That’s going to be great.

I stopped in at Zone 5 Bikes, Brews, and Coffee on the way home and I just have to love what is going on down there. Homeboy has a grand vision and it is all coming together. All of the cycling tribes in the Seven Hills nation come together for Rendezvous and trading on Fridays. There is always a new Ellsworth on the stand, and one of these days that will be my new Ellsworth. I am consciously willing it into existence. I could use your help too- so on the count of three I want you all to help me manifest this vision.

OK, 1…..2……3 Manifest!

Outstanding, thank you all. If you have a vision you would like help manifesting, please submit your requests below and let the collective consciousness of the bigringcircus work for you.



Osama Bin Laden, Ratko Mladic, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, and Whitey Bulger.

Something is going on out there in the back alleys of the world where good and evil duke it out. Bad guys are falling left and right. We can debate lots of things, like whether or not Al Gore is an international sex symbol, but we can’t debate that the four individuals named above are bad news bears all the way. All of them supposedly untouchable and beyond the reach of law, and yet one, two, three, four one dead and three arrested. I’m taking it as a sign towards brighter days for all of us. Unless you are evil too, then you better lay low for a while. This is not your time.

If Justice is suddenly in vogue then where is mine?

If there is a surplus of justice going around then I would like to finally get the opportunity to dunk a basketball on a 10′ rim. If the world is righting itself towards fairness, and bending the arc of the universe a little more towards justice, then when can I get a vacation? Where is my serendipitous good thing?
An Ellsworth Truth maybe? A fleeting smile from a pretty girl?

Come on Universe, hook a brother up. I try my best every day.


Team Type 1

Team Type 1 is the feel good hit of the summer. I haven’t mentioned them, but they have been on my mind as they advance their cause in the press and in bike racing around the world. I have followed the story of Phil Southerland and his steady takeover of the cycling world ever since Big Worm told me who he was. I would love for Big Worm to give us his perspective on mentoring this local Tallahassee guy in his early years, and supporting him through the Race Across America. Like the rest of us, Phil looks up to Big Worm, and not just because he’s tall. Phil doesn’t race anymore that I know of, but he is directing a team and an international effort to mobilize diabetics to compete and manage their disease through exercise. You don’t have to be a diabetic to get the idea.

In my recent adventures in wellness I have learned a lot about blood sugar and how it affects both the mind and body. While I am not a diabetic, I was doing a good job of impersonating one until last September. Remember all that worshiping of candy corn? Raw almonds are the new candy corn.

Every time I see a TT1 jersey in a race or on a podium it inspires me to take better care of this daily gift I carry around each day.

I’m saying it now, and I hope you are reading Mr. Tour de France chief, Team Type 1 needs to be on the road to Paris in 2012 or the BRC is boycotting the race.

With good control, anything is possible.



Bike Church showed up at Munson Monday tonight, a few of the Disciples anyway. I rode with those guys and we ran the trail backwards and inside out of course, because nothing is ever easy about the Bike Church gang. One of them rode without a seat, I kid you not. Another one rode without water. He said we weren’t going to be out long enough to need it. We rode almost 2 hours and it was 94 degrees at 7:00 P:M. When we said goodnight he was headed deeper into the forest by himself. That’s just how those boys do it. Everybody has to find their own way right?

Right. Dig it.

Me? I just flowed the whole time in that be like water way that happens when you get your mind out of the way and let the pedals do the thinking. I ain’t saying this was bike church, it was just a Monday night prayer supper, but that’s how you learn to ride on Sunday mornings when you have to reach deep inside and send some knee mail to get the ride done.

Are you smelling what I’m stepping in here?


The Indianhead Acres Gentlemans’s Club

Raise your hand if you remember Sasquatch, from the early days of this site? I rode with him today for the inaugural Brunch Fandango, a genteel affair involving no dropping, no single track, and no displays of competitive spirit. It was to be a truly regal promenade above the banks of el Lago de Lafayette.

We lost each other immediately upon crossing the first major road, no more than 3 minutes from my house, our point of departure. The fault lies with me, as I proceeded directly to the trail which I had made an effort to communicate as our intended destination. Sasquatch, observing the rules of the Indianhead Acres Gentlemans’s Club, bypassed the trail due to it’s singular nature and he rolled to the bottom of the hill on the pavement, or as he calls it, the bigger single track. Away he went from there, fuming that I should disrespect the Fandango with my show of aggression! Meanwhile, patiently did I wait at the end of the trail- the same trail I had identified as our intended destination. Wait I did, like a dog left behind at the rest stop. He never came back for me.

Now set your watches for one hour and you will experience the amount of time it took for us to re-connect.

There. It was quite a long time was it not, to be wandering and waiting with no hope of locating your fellow caballero, no? Si, de acuredo, hace much tiempo sin duda. We did persist and reconvene for a tour of the Lafayette Heritage nature trail, where at least one senorita informed Mr. S’quatch that I was “beating him” as we climbed to the peak of the grand colina. Foolish girl, the Indianhead Acres Gentlemans’s Club does no beating, the rider in front is simply scouting, for the convenience of his fellow gentlemen.



Before Big Jim settled down and destroyed me and everything I stand for on a bike, he lamented the many times he is mistaken for a particular friend of ours. As it turns out I have on occasion been told I bear a family resemblance to this fellow and his brother. The reason this happens is simple. Racism.

When people look at us all they see is our pale color, our bald heads, and our swarthy Scottish frames. They never look further to see the individual inside that counts. We all deserve to let our little lights shine.

But seriously, I could not have set myself up any better for a head to head ride with Big Jim. I ate quinoa and slept 8 hours. I got deep into my practice (as we say) at yoga last night. Perfect tires. Perfect pressure. Clean gloves. Perfect.

It turns out Big Jim likes to ride his bike quite a bit. All I’m going to say is that I never offered to set the pace and he never really asked. I realized this early in the ride and saved myself some pain and anguish by not responding to his little surges along the way. Just hard blue collar pedaling from a couple of Shmoos.