That’s what my friend, Montana Bob, would say when you whined or complained about anything. “Shut up and keep totin’.” Pick yourself up and shuffle along.
Our friend the Wrecking Ball took a slam and cracked his collarbone like a number 2 pencil over the weekend. The X-ray looks like somebody smashed a sleeve of crackers in his shoulder cavity. What can you say to a man named Wrecking Ball that he doesn’t already know? Nothing. He knows the only way out of this is through. Keep totin’ Wrecking Ball.
Our readers up north may not sympathize, but it is too damn hot down here. This state is a steam bath of hay fever and confused Camellias and we are deep in the heart of winter. I don’t like it much. Keep totin’.
My friend who suffered the horrific de-gloving of his scrotum on his inaugural mountain bike ride a few months ago returned to the trail on Sunday to lead the Robot Army, minus some ‘bots, in a victory lap. We stopped at the site of of the accident and raised a water bottle full of bacteria and soap residue to his resilience, at least that’s what mine tasted like. He crashed again, shoulder-checked a tree, and ran off the trail a couple of times, but the boy has the fire for riding. He’ll keep totin’.
With San Felasco behind me, I need a new riding goal. I’m looking slant-eyed at the Bicycle House To Hell and Back ride. That’s something like 150 mile round trip into Tate’s Hell and back. That’s a lot of totin’.
Life sets them up, we knock them down.
Keep totin’ y’all.
Early on in the ride I noticed a couple standing off trail looking down at a bike they were both holding by a handlebar. “I can’t ride the whole damn thing in the granny gear.” a woman said bitterly. Let that bar go and ride on I thought to the guy, but we all knew their ride was over, 4 miles into the cold day.
Crawling through the cloudy switchbacks an hour later we passed a man sitting in the dirt-his legs entwined in his frame, a knot under his eye. “I’m all right, I don’t need anything” he kept repeating to the parade of riders making lazy effort to assist. “Okay?” “Need anything?” We were all wiling to give him everything but our inertia.
A baby-faced young buck, his face a puffing red badge of courage sits sucking water in a bed of pine needles. His 10,000 yard stare looks past the trail, the riders, the whole day. He is looking deep into a future where he is a fisherman with a shining white boat trailered to his F150, a cold beer in his hand, steering out the channel with his gut on the wheel. Bicycles are a children’s toy in his world now.
The pushers, arms out far as though they can to reach the finish line sooner just by stretching a little further. The pushers are a game bunch. They compete against each other, racing to be not the last pusher. “On your left” we say, and the stoic pushers say “fuck you” with their steady plodding. “Come around if you want, but don’t touch me. I am pushing my bike and I am disgusting.”
Don’t meet their eyes, don’t get involved, just stay in the parade and pass them all by.
I heard this Pablo Neruda poem tonight in a Yin yoga class, which is a sentence I never ever thought I would get the opportunity to write, but out of respect for all of the soldiers for peace the world over, I’m going to share it with you guys on this day. Tomorrow I hope to continue my takedown of the tour of San Felasco. -Juancho
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
I told Tom early on I wanted it to be just another bike ride, a long-even boring- day in the saddle. Before lunch Tom had crashed twice and claimed the nickname “Crampa” as he struggled to keep up on his tiny-wheeled bicycle. I was having a different experience on Big Red the 29’er. If I wanted to pass, I passed. If I wanted to catch up, I caught up. I pictured where I wanted to be, and Big Red transported me to that place. Thought-powered.
The incentive to do a ride like San Felasco for me is to mark a place in time. The ride experience itself is less important. Creeping lines of riders crawling through the singletrack harumphing and wheezing in the dust, everyone blaming someone for something. Too slow, too rude, too aggro, too mellow. Someone taps a brake and the backlash travels back for miles down the trail.
A meniscus of dust lingers above the trail all day and you are either eating it or serving it up to someone else, and everyone gets a good taste of both.
Our little trio had few rules for the day, but the most important was to avoid mixing it up with the boys in the Black and Orange, the Bikechain posse. There are too many of them, and they think and act as one. They are like an automatic weapon on a battlefield of six-shooters. Always, another rider can be dispatched or expended just for the fun of blowing someone up and leaving them a pile of smoldering quads.
I could hear them calling to me through the trees, “Juancho where are you? We are coming to get you!” A guy in front of me said, “Jesus Christ I’m glad I’m not Juancho.” I told him I was Juancho and he immediately yielded the trail and hid behind some bushes. “Don’t let them see your eyes!” I warned him as I stomped through the rest of his pack of friends.
Trapped in a malingering crowd of weekend warriors the Black and Orange caught me and the Wrecking Ball lived up to his name. Employing his Ft. Pierce dirtball heritage he punk-rocked his way through the crowd earning whimpers of protest from the Milquetoast Docker set like, “Just tell us what you are doing please!”
What is he doing? He is wrecking you. That should be obvious and count your blessing that he isn’t coming back. We passed about thirty people by hyper-driving through the center of the pack, his son floating along the outside line like the shadow of a hunting raptor. We enjoyed open ground for the next few miles to the lunch break.
That’s a good start on the lying. I’ll cook up some more later.
Somewhere out there in the woods of Alachua County is a moment waiting for me. It may be a moment of quiet splendor, where I pause in the saddle to watch a fawn snuffle for acorns while I reflect on the great bounty that befell me in 2011. I will genuflect in gratitude before clipping in to savor the final miles of a glorious day.
Somewhere else out there is a different moment. This moment finds me sitting beside the trail, my sooty bottom all wet and itchy. My blurry tears fall on my bottom lip and pool there. Some physical or mechanical failure ties me to defeat. I am eating chocolate and waiting for the bus.
Wow. Now that’s a weekend. Are they this good because I can’t take them for granted anymore, or is life just that good? It’s a hard call.
We spent major time behind the scenes in support of the above performance by performance art troupe, The Glitter Chariot. It is hard to explain what goes on at these events, but they are high risk, emotion-driven performances that borrow from old country standards, children’s television, and personal stories of heartbreak and loss. The next night they turned it out glam punk style and left the stage a smoldering pile of sparkly cinders.
It was a weekend for bicycle heroics too, by riders young and old, but I’ll tell you about that later. It is Monday after all, and I need to find some pants.
This time next week we will be driving towards oblivion, which is just a dramatic way to describe a bike ride that costs $50– The Tour de San Felasco. Tommy offered his mea culpa today, which is nothing to be concerned about. He has been working day and night, up to his elbows in chest cavities from here to Georgia. Should you ever need it, you would want his to be the hands up in there. His job ain’t easy, but at least it is stressful. He’s not the surgeon so don’t get on your high horse about doing what it takes to make the big money. He volunteers his time and donates any earnings to various charities that benefit small children or cute animals. They don’t make them like that anymore.
It doesn’t matter, like I said. We march onward into the fray, singing of caissons. He won’t begin to apply himself until it gets ugly, which is when he shines. The colder and wetter the higher his odds. I am the opposite. If the sky is grey I will struggle to get out of the car. Two elements that make me cower are wind and grey skies, especially when they are spelled in the British manner, with an “e”. Those are indeed the greyest of all.
I can’t do much more to be ready. Trim off a couple of Christmas lbs (Ham and Grand Marnier), pick up some shoe covers in case it is 12 degrees, and figure out what I am carrying on the ride (the 10 essentials?)
Tonight the Glitter Chariot rides into town for a performance at the FSU Museum of Fine Art, so I must put aside thoughts of bikes and become El Managerio to the stars. M will be doing hair and makeup as well, so for us it is a family event.
Tomorrow may involve some light road biking and napping, which is redundant really because road riding is effortless compared to mountain biking. I don’t make the rules, that’s just the way it is.
Sunday will be one last epic hammerfest with the Dogboy, who is Micky to my Rocky, except he is also my Apollo Creed. I guess what I’m trying to say is “Thanks Dogboy!”
There. I feel so good knowing the internet is aware of my plans.
How can you get so damn tired from doing nothing? I spent the first three hours of the morning sitting in a room full of state office workers. They were sitting in the near dark (budget cuts) watching another state office worker read to them from a PowerPoint presentation. The room was simultaneously a little too warm and a little too cold. Being a private contractor I snapped out of it and escaped when they briefly opened the airlock to the outside world to allow for a mandatory smoke break. Some of them just sat staring at the slide that said “MANDATORY SMOKE BREAK” and continued taking notes. I looked at the 4.25 x 5.5 tablets (budget cuts) to the left and right of me and read “MANDATORY SMOKE BREAK” in the hollow penmanship of the saddle-broke.
I’m just kidding, you can’t smoke on state property in Florida. The slide actually said, “MANDATORY 10 MINUTE SOBBING.”
The rest of the day all I could think was that there, but for the grace of God goes me, but the ache never left my sacrum and the chill never left my spine. I suppose it is a skill like any other trade requires. What I saw were hardened poker faces of the terminally secure, but inside they were living wild and daring fantasy lives.
Wilford Brimley with the too-tight pink oxford and the high-water, washed-out Dockers was walking along the Thames with a Derringer in his shoe and a pretty duck of a girl on his arm, easing his way back to a room to pass the day sequestered until the gaming parlors recovered from the beating he gave them.
The Stegosaurus is not the most glamorous dinosaur, but it got the job done in the Prehistoric rumbles I am sure. Click the title link to learn more about this impressive beast. I can’t vouch for those children’s bona fides. If you want to hear the song sung right you have to meet my 3 year-old buddy Lucy. She knows what’s what about a Stegosaurus song.
I felt like a Stegosaurus out there today lumbering behind the Dogboy, who is some kind of long-distance fast rolling dinosaur. It was a workman-like three hours of saddle-time out to the Munson Twilight Zone by way of a whole bunch of sandy trails with lots and lots of sticks. I’m calling it 28 miles.
As I have said, San Felasco can’t come soon enough. It can all go to hell by the 14th, but so far things feel good. Who cares right? There’s bigger fish to fry than a long, cold bike ride.
What’s up with the dude on the Bachelor? Why doesn’t he get a haircut? The 90’s are over bro, tighten up. Speaking of haircuts it should go without saying that if you live in the area and need to polish your avatar, my girl is a terrific stylist and affordable.You should see what she has done for my look. BRC readers get a break of course. Ask for details.
What else? Is Mitt going to make it happen in Iowa? I just don’t know. That Rick Santorum is one charming S.O.B. don’t you think? Friendly, funny, the total package.
Blogging is easy really, anyone can do it. Look how effortless I make it look. That’s because it really is that simple. One word comes. Another word follows that word. Piece of cake.
Speaking of cake, how many of you put on some holiday lbs? I’m logging in with 4 official, 6 unofficial. That sets me up perfect for the Felasco taper. Whatever that is. One word. Two words. Onward we all go.