Monthly Archives: August 2011

Triple Play

Yesterday the Great Magnet saw fit to allow me to complete some tasks that I have been working on for months. You grind and grind and then all of a sudden, boom, it’s done. I had to celebrate by breaking my ride fast of 6 days. I got to the trail-head at 3:30 P:M. The thermometer read a cool 96. That number rose sharply as I pedaled into a controlled burn in the forest. The woods were charred black and still smoldering and the air was hazy with smoke and heat shimmers. I stopped to dampen a bandana and tie it around my face as a filter. With that I felt like I was being water-boarded next to a pizza oven. It was still a good ride, as most bike rides turn out to be.

Back in the Safari I trekked over to yoga and slipped into a Pranayama a few beats behind. With no time to stop at the house I was wearing my bibs and a dress shirt I found wadded in the seat pocket of the van. My shins were covered with soot and the sweat rolled down my polished bald head unchecked. Although the room was packed I seemed to have plenty of room for my Warrior Two. I went through the motions and held poses for days, but I played Whack-a-Mole with my thoughts. At its worst yoga is still a good stretch. With the tails of my button-up shirt sticking to my backside I namasted out of there and back to the van.

Swinging by the house I changed, ate a banana (major sugar!) and bumped some Nas on my way to the Tallahassee Rock Gym. The rock climbing revival is still going strong. The Torso and his family were already there and the place was packed for student half price night. I waited patiently, belaying babies and teaching newbies to tie figure eight knots. I climbed on Tuesday and the Torso’s beeper fell out of his pocket from 20 feet up and brained me on my exposed dome. He appraised the lump and the nick in my scalp with chagrin. When you are climbing rocks fall, it is part of the game, but who carries a beeper in 2011? I got to tie in eventually and go at it on a couple of stiff 5.8’s that were more than enough to satiate me and close out my triple play evening.

The pull-up count is at 4.


Good things come

This time last year I was close to getting my arm out of the sling, and thinking that would end my misery. In fact things were about to get a whole lot worse. Confining a joint for 3 months atrophies the muscle and cartilage resulting in this case with a condition called “frozen shoulder.” To move it beyond its stunted radius was to feel broken glass grinding in the socket. The pain meds were gone. The howling nightmare of withdrawal was swooping in with a black lust. I was so fatigued I couldn’t walk to the mailbox and back without getting winded.

Then things got worse.

By September I was sucking the scum off the bottom of the barrel. Somewhere deep inside my heart I found a little courage and I fought back. One step at a time. One grain of brown rice at a time. I shut out the world and all earthly pleasures save for sweat and a search for a new way. I stacked the words of the doubters like bricks in my ramparts and thought of the day I would launch my opening salvo. –

For them all a feast of crows. Patience is its own reward.



I drive a sweet van. A GMC Safari that my mom has driven from Florida to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and back a few times. She also drove it to California, Ohio, the grocery store and elsewhere. It is silver with tinted windows, and I know I look good behind the wheel. Anybody would. Most of the time my bike is in the back, and maybe some golf clubs, yoga mats, and a dozen empty water bottles. I call it the mobile toy-box. Some people call it the Turtle or the Shovel. This weekend it will be an art collection vehicle in New Orleans for some friends. It will return full of glitter, scraps of fabric, and coffee cups. It makes me happy to loan it to my friends who dare to do great things like make art.

What does not make me happy about it is driving around town looking at my Tallahassee neighbors standing in the heat waiting for the buses, which can take 45 minutes in some parts of town. I don’t like passing people by who are walking my way on long, two lane roads peppered with decomposing opossum and sand-spurs. The conversation in my head goes something like this;

It sure looks hot out there. Those people are hating it, and that old man looks like he might fold right over his walker and pass out. I could load them all up and take them wherever they need to go. People will think that is weird, and it will likely scare them, or make them feel suspicious. I better just keep on rolling.

That’s what I do, I keep on rolling. And yet I remember standing at a border crossing on the line between Slovenia and Austria in the middle of the night, desperate for a ride to catch the Croatian bus that abandoned me when I went to the bathroom in the station. Cramped by intestinal disease, dizzy from a stomach emptied by violent retching and diarrhea, my foot bandaged and bloody with 14 stitches received the day before, I had a few seconds to beg in a foreign language to each passing car to take me with them. Hundreds passed me within the first hour. A blue mini-van driven by a woman with blonde hair and tired eyes looked at me and turned to an elderly gentleman in the backseat and he nodded. A toddler was buckled into the bench seat next to the man.

She waved me around to the passenger seat.

What to do?



Happy Birthday Lopo!

It will be 100 degrees by 2:00 P:M today with a suck factor of 107-110 projected by 5:00 O’clock. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you AUGUST. I have been thinking about what to do in August since last September, when I first lurched my XL frame off of the opium couch and decided to choose life over broken-ness, Vicodin and Wife Swap. You must have a plan for August I thought. I hoped to be in San Diego, riding my bike along the western edge of this grand experiment, learning to surf at Tourmaline and playing pirates with my nephew. This was not in the Great Magnet’s plan.

The BikeChain crew, whom I will soon join in the black and the orange, rode last night in the stifling confines of the north-side hardwood trails. Early reports from the wounded are that Big Worm roared a mighty roar and savaged the rest of the pride. I was safely in savasana by then after a spirited round of golf. I shot a 57 on 9 and enjoyed every chunker and topper along the way. You must have a plan for August. The bugs are so intense right now that the ticks are complaining about the dog dick gnats and the mosquitoes have to walk everywhere because they are so bloated on on sweet cyclist blood- enriched by Zone 5 cookies and cold beers, that they can’t lift themselves from the ground.

You make different choices and different things happen.

I am going to do more rock climbing at the Tallahassee Rock Gym. I’m going to hurl disc golf at Tom Brown Park. I’m going to paddle, swim, and rope swing my way around the Big Bend. I’m going to break 50 at the Jacques Gauthier Golf and Social Club. I’m going to ride my bike early in the morning and late at night. I am going to drop 10 lbs and read The Pale King.

I have no idea what to do about September.



I grew up on the back of a bike, riding in a plastic seat strapped to the back of a 1970’s Schwinn 3-speed, if I remember correctly. My parents would ride my sister and I around the neighborhood, which was a bunch of trailers spread out along a road I can’t believe was paved. It was good living back in the day, when I had the freedom to wander across the fields to my friend’s house to watch the Star-Spangled Banner play on television when network television came on first thing Saturday morning before cartoons. Before that though, I saw the world from the back of the bicycle, and legend has it I spoke all things I saw into being. When one parent couldn’t take it anymore they would stop and switch. Did they switch bicycles, or just us children? I don’t remember this displeasing me. I was happy to have a new audience to whom I could explain all of the wonders of the world through my toddler eyes. I still like to talk on bike rides.


Bike Thief Take-Down

If you have ever had a bike stolen, you know that sick feeling when you realize your ride is not where you left it. When I was 12 my bike got stolen while we were on vacation. when I was 21 a friend hid my bike around the corner from where I was standing to teach me a lesson about not locking it up. My bike was found and returned back in 1982, damaged, but sound. It made me sick to think of some other kid riding it around, showing off my yellow mag wheels. The friend who hid my bike in 1991? I never forgave him. I hold a grudge to this day and I hope he rots in hell. We all lose so much in this life. There’s no room for simulated loss. What a jackass. I digress.

A reader out in California (Thanks SY!) shared a video of a bike theft in progress outside of his company, captured on a security camera. The theft itself is illustrative as it takes about two seconds for the thief to cut the lock and ride away. Too bad for him a quick-thinking young woman only needed one second to get out there and shut him down. Click the title to view the heroic save. With moves like hers she is likely to wind up in the BRC Clydesdale Hall of Fame.

Nice work!