Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dear Bear

Dear Bear,

You're killing me here.  Not literally, of course.  That would be bad, and it's my hope that this letter will serve as a mediatatory step between where we are right now - which is a really unhealthy, angry, one-sided relationship - and one of us getting killed (you.)

You see, Bear, here's the thing.  This started out OK.  To be honest, it was kind of cool having a bear hanging around a little bit.  The kids haven't seen you yet, and I was hoping that might happen somehow in a safe, manageable way where no one felt used or endangered or inappropriately spectated like some kind of zoo critter.  And that time you went up the trail about an hour after Scanlon went down the trail and we got it all on camera - hilarious.  Well-played.  Your comedic timing, I felt, was spot on that time, and I applauded your style.

back when you were funny.
(Seriously though, thanks for not eating Scanlon.)
OK, but here's the thing.  Sometime in the last couple of months, this got out of hand.  Your behavior, which I will enumerate and expand upon below, is outside of what I'm prepared to accept from a neighboring and presumably slightly dangerous wild animal.  I've been as cool about this as I can, but this is still North Earlysville, and I reserve the right to act like ruthless white trash if you keep acting like such a dick.

OK, let me get into it here, and please be sure to read this to the end so we're on the same page moving forward.

1)  I can no longer tolerate you ignoring me screaming at you while you are eating from my trashcan.  Let me be clear - that's not to say you can't eat the trash.  It's fine if you want to pick through it now and then, and obviously your ice cream addiction is something you don't really have a handle on yet.  I get that.  I relate to that.  I see how you push aside the leftover vegetables that my kids won't eat either in order to tear apart the ice cream container and lick every inch of it dry.  I've DONE that.  So let's be straight, it's OK from time to time.  But when I step out not onto the porch at 4 AM in my underwear and I just had a vasectomy 3 days ago and I'm pretty sore, and I yell for you to beat it, do NOT, ever again, under any circumstances, give me your fuck-you-I'm-a-bear face and continue to eat the trash.  I will not be ignored.

2)  When I go back inside, get my shotgun loaded with bird shot to scare you off, storm back outside angrily, and shoot said shotgun in order to scare you off, I need you to at least ACT scared.  Run off.  Hustle for once in your life.  A slow walk with a fuck-you look over your shoulder again will not be tolerated.  It's a SHOTGUN.  I need you to at least act like you're somewhat put off and repelled by my white-trash-shotgun-shooting-in-my-underwear rage.  Do not simply walk to the edge of the yard and wait for me to go back inside so you can resume eating trash.  I'm watching you, you slippery fuck.  Also, if you could remind me that my 500 gallon propane tank is right there and I should be more careful with my shotgun warning shots so I don't blow up the entire zip code, that would be sweet.

3) You need to be more gentle with the trash can.  I know this is difficult for you because you don't have opposable thumbs, but you are really destroying it.  It's not a live, wild animal that you have to stalk, hunt down, and kill.  It's entirely inanimate.  It's not going to get away.  Take your time, calmly bite through the bungie cord that holds the top on since you destroyed the hinges, and have yourself a nice meal.  Light some candles, dude - enjoy the moment - it's fuel for your soul too, you know.  If you spike the trash can off the heat pump one more time, I swear to God it's on.

4)  No more diapers.  Period.  End of conversation.  Those weren't even diapers that came from my trashcan, so I know you're two-timing me at the very least.  Not cool.

5)  No more daytime trashcan raids.  Look, I know you get antsy out there sleeping all day, and the ice cream is calling or whatever, but you gotta stay put until nightfall at the very least.  Preferably between the hours of midnight and 5 AM should be fine.  Also, Shannon sometimes goes running at 5AM or some ungodly hour that I don't ever see unless I'm awake and trying to manage the fucking crazy bear that won't stop eating our trash, so if you can finish up early on those days that would be super helpful.  In fact, if you can just try to manage your behavior in such a way that my bride doesn't have to lay down a suppressive fire with the shotgun from the front porch while I shovel trash back into the house in the middle of the night, that would be a good step towards her not shooting you for realsies.

I think that's it.  Really, Bear, I don't feel like I'm asking too much.  We've got young kids here, lots of people coming out to ride the farm at all kinds of hours, and as a general rule no one wants to party with a bear that wants to party back.  Let's all try to get a handle on our tempers here, act like good neighbors, and return this to a healthy relationship that I know it can be.

I believe in us, bear.

Up, up, up.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ark Jokes

 25 days in a row with measurable rainfall?  More?  Less?  Did we get a break in the weather somewhere along the way, a day of sunshine I can't remember?

You know it's been raining for too long when people STOP making Ark jokes.  Because at first all of those ark jokes are funny enough, like the one about Wadsworth and his matching new Pivots, ready to march them two-by-two onto the ark and float away to start life again.
Because obviously if there's a chosen one, it's Qwadsworth.  
But eventually ark jokes are like dick jokes; a little too personal, and they make us uncomfortable because, shit, this one might actually be on us.  So we laugh uncomfortably, change the subject, and try to move on - we stop making those jokes ourselves.  And still, it keeps raining.

Genesis books 6 - 9: The Great Flood.  If you need to brush up on that, you can get a quick refresher here:

Basically, it goes like this: God is sick and tired of our shit, our over-reliance on social media, Trump, and the current state of Democratic Sexual Underperformance in Congress.  So he picks one dude (Qwadsworth), tells him to load up the boat, buy some extra chainlube because it's going to be muddy for a while, and then he smites the Earth with a flood that wipes out all of mankind.

Stevie Smith.
C-ham's Achilles Tendon.

That list goes on and on.  Like any horror movie worth watching, not everybody makes it.

Then, the sun comes back out, Qwdasworth lands at Mount Ararat, the flood waters recede, and he gets back to work re-propogating the species and fucking pinning it.  Notably, Mount Ararat is the high ground, so this whole re-creation myth is actually functioning sort of like a shuttle run, and presumably our hero, the future of mankind, had the foresight to pack his big bike, and he points it downhill for a shred first.

"Let's take it from the top," I imagine Qwads-Noah saying.  Because the trails are dryer up here on the ridgeline.  Holy shit that's a lot of water.

If you laughed at this Ark Joke, take notice: you laughed at Trump too, didn't you.

Two by two, folks.  Nice and orderly now.
Up, up, up.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Horse races and hill climbs

he used to sell papers in front:
“get your winners! get rich on a dime!”
and about the 3rd or 4th race
you’d see him rolling in on his rotten board
with roller skates underneath.
he’d propel himself along on his hands;
he just had small stumps for legs
and the rims of the skate wheels were worn off.
you could see inside the wheels and they would wobble
something awful
shooting and flashing
imperialistic sparks!
he moved faster than anybody, rolled cigarette dangling,
you could hear him coming
“god o mighty, what was that?” the new ones asked. 

he was the world’s greatest loser
but he never gave up
wheeling toward the 2 dollar window screaming:
“it’s the 4 horse, you fools! how the hell ya
gonna beat the
up on the board the 4 would be reading
60 to one.
i never heard him pick a winner.

there was the big fat blonde whore
who kept touching him for luck, and

nobody had any luck. the whore is gone

i guess nothing ever works for us. we’re fools, of course—

bucking the inside plus a 15 percent take,
but how are you going to tell a dreamer
there’s a 15 percent take on the
dream? he’ll just laugh and say,
“is that all?”

i miss those


Monday, May 2, 2016

Better Call Saul

I saw 2 triathletes on Brokenback on Saturday morning.  It was drizzling, foggy, awesome spring weather, and Brokenback in the Spring is one of my favorite routes.  To be clear, Brokenback is mandatory mountain bike territory.  There are a few hard people - Fred Wittwer for example - who choose to ride it on a Cross Bike, but for the most part it's all granny gears and 2.3's.  Certainly not carbon Tri bike terrain, but sure enough these two are riding carbon Cervelos.  Aero bars.  Deep dish carbon wheels.  Staring at their GPS.  Completely bewildered at what the fuck was happening to them.

Guy and a girl.  The girl, who is clearly the navigator for the day, keeps insisting they are supposed to be on a road and not a trail.  They're from Richmond, up for the day to ride some hills, obviously preparing for a race of some kind that has more climbing than what they can get out East, so here they are.  

One of the strangest things about the encounter was just how nice their gear was.  I'm guessing they had about $500 in high vis rain gear on, sweet bikes, a GPS unit that looked like it could launch the space shuttle, lots of very nice shit.  They were clearly prepared - they'd researched a route, knew they were in store for a few thousand feet of climbing and some steep terrain; they just hadn't planned on what qualifies as a "road" in that part of Greene County.   And now that little detail was coming back to bite them right in the $280 chamois.  

I've never actually hired a guide.  These days, who needs a guide when you've got the entire internet to consult and a $900 GPS?  It would seem, with basically limitless ride data, race reports, GPS info, Maps, and entire guidebooks being posted online, why pay for local knowledge?

I directed these two back to pavement, wished them well, and hoped for the best, and we went our separate ways.  And it occurred to me as I rode away and pondered the abundance of internet ride data, that the opposite is actually true.  It is NOW more than ever, that hiring a guide is important.  

For some people, there is nothing more dangerous than a map.

And there are PLENTY of maps out there to be found.  Having a guide who can actually help you parse through all of the data available, interpret it, and provide the kind of information only a local has just might make or break your day.

Case in point: local CRC fast guy, Julian Bowling, recently tried to ride the entire Jeep Road from the parkway to Coal road on his road bike.
As he surmised later, "not a good route."

I also considered this: there's a difference between being Unguided and being Misguided.
Two different things.

Being Unguided was how it used to be done.  No real info, minimal maps, just a bike and a bunch of roads/trails you didn't know, but off you went.  And you sort of figured it out.  Sometimes it worked out, other times you got lost and had to find your way back to the car, but you at least weren't doing so under false assumptions.

Being Misguided is way, way more dangerous.  Using data, much of it gathered online on an 18 inch computer screen, to navigate real world bike rides can leave you in dire situations.

An unguided person might see the jeep trail that Julian took, ride the first 100 meters on his road bike, and then he probably makes the quick and correct decision to turn back and go another way.

A misguided person, on the other hand - one who knows that the jeep road will eventually punch through to the coal rd - pushes on, then has to walk, then proceeds barefoot for 2 hours because the terrain is unmanageable in road shoes. 

An unguided person senses danger.  They have to. It's like they have a built in governor, that being the simple fact that they don't know where they are going.

A misguided person - equipped with certainty, but wrong - does crazy things like ford rivers, try to ride out a double flat, gets shot at while trespassing on a game preserve, and eventually drowns in a beaver pond.
See the difference?  

I've been on a handful of death marches - the kind where you might actually die - bike rides so far in my life.  All of them have been, at least in part, caused by misguided people.  People who can look at a map, 18" wide on their computer screen, and confidently spout, "we can do that in a day." 
These are the people who'd Better call Saul.

Don't get me wrong, I love and respect your sense of adventure.  I applaud your preparedness.  But I wonder what would have happened to those two triathletes had they managed to summit Brokenback...what next?  They have to come down now.  Not Good.

Next time, take the extra step.

There's a right way down and a right way up, up, up.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Dark

There are two kinds of people in this world:

Reality vs The Dream, one might say. Others might call it simply those who say yes, and those who do not say yes.   Night riders, or people that don't.  I'm not trying to glorify what I do, because it's not for everyone - I get that.  But into the storm we went.

Tuesday Night.  Post TNW Road Ride.  The storms blowing in across the mountains look purple on the radar, but I lie to Fort and tell him it's looking clear because I really do think we've got time to make it happen.  As so often happens, I was wrong.

Conditions were sketchy, right from the start, and Fort might need stitches when he wakes up and gets the rocks out of his knee this morning.  There was thunder and lightning pretty much straight overhead, a little mud and a lot of wet roots, and a certain level of nature-induced panic that even the deer seemed to feel as the storm really set in and got worse.  Having been struck by lightning once already in this life, and sensing the treachery, I was a little scared - but mostly just exhilarated.  But that's almost never the point.  I don't actually know what the point is, but it's not that.

I've given up on trying to find the point in night riding anyway, and I've given up on trying to explain it to people.  Covered in dirt and soaking wet, we bribed the bartender at Pro De Nata into serving us after he'd already counted the drawer, and the old guy on the stool next to me in the Mossy Oak hat was asking us, "Wait, you were just out there doing what?"

I try to spell it out to him in the most basic terms, but paradoxically those are the most difficult to understand:
at night
in a thunderstorm
on bikes

"wait, you were riding bikes on Miller School Road?"

No, on the trail.

He doesn't get it.  I have to keep in mind, in situations such as this, that I'm the weird one, and he doesn't get it because it defies explanation, and even I don't really understand why I do this, and even if I did, I couldn't put it into words that someone who doesn't love night riding would understand, and like all things in life that only have individual meaning, most other people don't care.

Like all of those owls out there on the back perimeter trail last night - the loudest family of birds I've ever heard.  They were raucous, but still somehow in harmony, scream-singing at us in a language we couldn't understand.

Turns out Fort doesn't need stitches, but he's gotta take a few days off and let it heal.  Like Bukowski said:

How are you going to tell the dreamer there's a 15% take on the dream?
He'll just laugh and say,
Is that all?

Straight out into the dark, and up, up, up.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Welcome to town, Coach.

You will fit in great around here.

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n roll, and something tells me you do.
One way to get there, and that's up, up, up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Circus Bear

A boy and his dad go to the circus, and while they're there they see a bear riding a bicycle.  
Fascinated, the boy asks his dad, "Dad, how do they teach that bear to ride a bike?"  

The dad replies confidently, "Well, that's easy son.  
They just nail his feet to the pedals and beat the shit out of him."

Keep training.  

Up, up, up.