Monthly Archives: June 2011


My neighborhood is filled with smoke this morning. Is it so hot that trees are spontaneously combusting? I saw a cat stuck to the road, his little paws sunk into the melted asphalt, that’s how hot it is. He was walking like he had gum on the bottom of his little cat shoes.

I had the tiniest quiver of excitement at the thought that my house would burn up and I would collect the insurance and once again travel free across the surface of the planet. In truth I know I would just rent an apartment on the other side of town and do what I always do these days. Freedom, it is a hell of a concept, but it sure is exhausting when you actually have it in your hands.

I made a salad last night of quinoa, brown rice, baby collards, walnuts, olives, cukes, and whatnot, tossed in a lemony garlic dressing. That is the caloric equivalent of loading a fresh belt in the 50 caliber, so smoke or not I must ride. I could save it for the weekend, but I don’t know if it works that way?

Good grief, this has become such a blog I need to set it on fire.


Life seems to happen in little chapters, but it is hard to say who is writing the text sometimes. A few months ago I picked up my guitar and practiced every day for about three weeks. I learned (was learning?) some songs and moving past the threshold I was stuck at for 29 years and then something happened and that little chapter was closed. Maybe 3 weeks is a paragraph and not a chapter. Sometimes it feels like I’m writing my story in the first person and dictating the action,and other times life is clearly being acted upon me in the dispassionate 3rd person. I have been on a run of good paragraphs for the most part this summer, and so I am ready to push the action towards the denouement and see how things turn out for the protagonist, but I just have to live it out a page at a time like everybody else.

I hope Stephen King isn’t writing this story.


Chicken Hawks

The ride rolled away from us while we were unloading our bikes from the van and that didn’t sit well with none of us. That meant working our way through the pack starting with the slowest and greenest, then working our way past the nature enthusiasts, closing in on the daily drinkers, the muffin-toppers, the slow B groupers, and hopefully finding the wheel of some quick B+’ers if not an A rider worn out from the weekend. I felt pity for none of them. I have been eaten alive, regurgitated, and re-animated on the trails of Tallahassee. Been there and did all that. It was treacherous. We passed on the left, we passed on the right, we passed through the bushes and around the trees. Sometime around the old trailhead we broke free from the pack and had clear open trail ahead except for one flash of jersey off in the distance, which we felt compelled to run down. Some chickens are stronger than others and this pullet was trucking. I turned myself inside out to reach him on the final climb back to the bench and I had him too. I thrust forward my talons and prepared to scoop him up and then, WHAM! I hooked a vine that yanked me straight into a tree in slow-motion cartoon fashion. Dashed!

Back at the bench, the gentleman we were chasing remarked on how startled he was to hear me crashing behind him as he was unaware anyone was back there.

You don’t hear no chicken hawks until it’s too late.


Another Day

This is MR3, formally of the Robot Army, but now he has a real soul like other little boys. It is good to be back in town with no departure dates looming. All I want is a chance to get into a groove right here on the Heech’. We rode the sun down on Saturday, then I rode it back up on Sunday morning with a blistering tour of the eastside trails with Mystery. I have been riding with a lot of groups lately, and it was nice to get back to a mano a mano ride format.

Now maybe some inspiration will visit these pages again.


Apocalyptic Phenomena

Greetings from New Haven, Missouri!

We are enjoying the 13 year Cicada bloom, a rare honor I am encouraged to appreciate by our hosts. The humming rises and falls all day long and into the night. When the cicadas come out to mate they are not bashful about it. I viewed them as a nuisance until I learned that this is a bona fide episodic event in nature. Like Haley’s Comet or a 100 year flood, you can’t just go find a swarm of cicadas any time you wish. These events give us meaning and a way to mark the passage of time. (We met three years before the Cicada bloom of 92 and so forth.)

What other natural events meet this criteria and how are they interpreted now and how were they viewed in the past?

Please tell us.


What is Flow?

Sometimes accomplishing great things requires little effort and other times accomplishing nothing at all takes everything you have got. I am caught between two cliches here: go with the flow, and against the grain. I could be talking bikes here, or I could not be, but let’s pretend that I am talking about the bikes.

Riding when it is 100 degrees outside seems like more of an against the grain kind of decision don’t you think? What can I hope to gain from it? I am going to do it tonight no matter what so don’t get all caught up in Yaying or naying that decision. What I am getting it is more fundamental. What does it mean to flow? Does it mean go along to get along? Because that doesn’t sound appealing. When you are flowing are you pushing the pace or holding a certain rhythm? If finding a flow is the ultimate, and it is easy to argue that it is, then why all of the romantic appeal of going against the grain? Is it more noble to do things the hard way, or do we justify that when we do it because it is how we spend our time? Can you flow against the grain too?

One thing that will for sure be flowing tonight is sweat.


Today is a good day to be a sucker, because so far they are all out riding the trails unchallenged by me. I woke up at 6:00 A:M, with the little voice that keeps me out of trouble saying,The Dogboy is out there. I am not afraid of him, but I dragged my sleeping bag under the bed and went back to sleep for another hour just in case he showed up all Thor at the door as the kids used to say. I remained uneasy and gave up on sleep. I needed a justification and I wasn’t feeling picky so I put on some shoes and launched a surge attack on the damn weeds that keep growing in my damn bushes. That’s what I get for trying to play house, plants that nobody else is responsible for tending. My shackles weigh heavy on my soul.

Now, it is 117 degrees and the trails are for certain sucker fee so there is no point in dropping some bait if the bite ain’t on.


Heal (heel)

I am watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee and wishing I could go back to 5th grade and face my nemesis one more time. I was a contender, but I could have been a champion. I don’t own a lot of things, or things that matter anyway, but one of my more treasured possessions is a 1935 Oxford English Dictionary that I received as a gift for working in the catacombs of Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, OR creating first generation barcodes for their massive inventory. I have lugged that thing around the country, loaned it to a kid who lived in a crisis shelter, and used it as a coffee table. Words are magic, and meant to be shared.

Which brings me to the miraculous healing of my aching Achille’s heel. I think recording my thoughts and feelings about the Great Crash that Overcame all Fear released all of the pressure stored in my sore hoof. After a week of little change in its status, I awoke this morning and walked to the kitchen without incident, cooked my oatmeal, and went about my day.

Without getting too metaphysical here, I’m just going to say that pain is complicated and has as much to do with our thoughts as it does with our bodies sometimes.

I don’t care if it is 132 degrees. There will be some bike riding going on this Saturday. That’s bad news for the suckers.


The Anniversary

Tomorrow will be a year since I picked myself up off the road with my skateboard under my arm and my right arm twisted backwards and braced across my head. I now understand why this pain is being visited upon my Achille’s heel. My mind was trying to ignore this date, but the body demands its observance. That crash, forever known as the necessary crash, changed my life.

Without that decision to drop the car at the shop and skateboard home I could never have become a Vicodin zombie. I would not have watched every episode of Wife Swap and written extensive notes on that show’s significance to solving the nation’s intransigent political divide. I would not have gained that extra fifteen lbs that carried me into dangerous new territory. If I had not gotten on that skateboard at the top of the road and pointed it down into a 90 degree corner I would not be dropping suckers on the trails like I have been lately, and will soon be doing again. Enjoy the holiday suckers, it is my gift to you. And to those who drop me? It is a holiday for them too, because I don’t care if I ever catch them, they know I am back there trying. Rust never sleeps for any of us.

That crash, forever to be known as the Crash of Great Clarity, tumbled me through the rocks and dumped me on the banks of humility. That crash turned me inside out physically, mentally, and spiritually. I highly recommend a hard slam to the pavement if you are ever at loose ends about what you want from this life. Thanks to that crash, where my head bounced off the road like a croquet ball, I walked up the stairs to a place called Journeys in Yoga. There, I was reintroduced to my body, my breath, and my mind and I found a lot worth saving in those places.

After that crash, which will forever be known as the Great Confrontation with Reality, I walked out this front door every morning and night and guided by the voices in my head, walked damn near 50 lbs of baggage off of myself. I let the good folks at Natural Health Consultants teach me how to eat. Here’s the secret- food has stuff in it that your body needs.

This is not the Academy awards. I only won back 95% of my right arm after all, but I have a lot of people to thank. I’m not one to put people’s names out on the internet, so I’m going to do the best I can and you can figure it out from there.

Thanks friends and family for hanging tough with me when I really, truly needed help. Thanks for picking me up and taking me to Stinky’s Fish Camp all those times. That, and watching the Tour were the only fun I had in July. Thanks for Wellness Camp. Thanks for the good counsel and the deep slumbers on your couches, and the grocery deliveries. I will try to get better about asking for help before things get to the skateboard point. Thanks for that too, the skateboard that made it all possible.

Thanks to Dave B, who I ran into outside the grocery store that day. You cheered me on before I could even feel a difference, before I believed I was actually trying to change my life. That carried me for weeks. Thanks also to Walt D, who poured over the Chinese medicine book with me and helped me think through the famous brown rice and kale diet. Again, I heard everything you said that day and I wrung months of encouragement from our conversation. Thank you Bill and Sonia, for hooking me up with the yoga. Bill told me “It’s your body Juancho, you can do whatever you want with it.” It would have been far easier to never mention yoga to me again after the first 30 sarcastic remarks out of me. Sometimes it just takes that many tries. Hey y’all, that’s your body right there, you can do what you want with it.

Thanks to my riding buddies. My desire to not just return to the bike, but to shock you all with a true return to form has been the burning coal in my heart from September until today. I did it for all of us and I hope you believe that. Thanks also to the greater cycling community of Tallahassee and beyond. I have never been one to ride with anyone but the same poor saps I write about all the time. That is complicated enough, but this year I have enjoyed rides with:

BC crew
Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association,
Thursday Night Forest Loop,
Dogboy, Nat King, and Uncle Todd for administering some sublime beatdowns
the Robot Army
Some Mexican guys on their way to their restaurant jobs
Random strangers I met only by jersey color and a few miles of trail.
That one road ride

Every ride matters for all kinds of reasons.

And thank you, my internet community, for taking that ride with me.

See you on the trail,