Monday, April 11, 2016


Where Am I?
Don't ask how it happened.  You don't have to ask; as usual, I will explain everything in exhausting detail but in the meantime just try to bear with me.  My typing fingers have atrophied and seem to be semi-frozen in a half grip around a phantom hammer (but on deeper pondering I suddenly realize that a hammer grip is not much different than that of a handlebar grip) and this of course could easily start me down a trail of a different pondering, but no:  this story is about a trail named Flatwoods.  It is directly behind my hotel room and here, out my fourth floor window, I am stunned to see a deep new old Florida swamp.  It's out there, just feet away.

Cypress and fern and palmetto and water, this is the real deal and I am amazed they let it live...this is a young swamp, the cypress trees are small and unsure of themselves but they are here all the same and this wacky place called New Tampa or North Tampa (they can't seem to decide) is one of those god-awful Florida places where the invasive ruination is so strenuous that one certainly never expects to see anything primitive anywhere nearby but here it is:  Flatwoods Nature Preserve.

Tired Superman
Having driven about six hours across the state (a normal person could make it in three hours but I stop alot to pee and I have a habit of turning down side streets because of a big tree I saw or because I just forgot where I was going) but ultimately arriving more or less where I was headed,  I checked into the hotel and then went out to the van and pulled out my new bicycle.  I lept gracefully into the saddle and fell into a small grassy knoll next to where I was parked.  I lay there a minute, pretending I did it on purpose.  Then I looked around, found no witnesses watching and, righting myself and my bike, did a proper old-man left side pedal mount and headed off.

"I'll just pedal to the trailhead and look around,"  I said to myself.  I have to talk to myself because I am alone. The Voice has been gone for a long time.  "I haven't ridden (rided? rode?) over two blocks in the last six months and my butt can't take too many miles."

Yeah, Right 
Problem is, this hotel is situated (ironically) off the beaten path and by Trailer Park Luck I entered from a back way.  There was a sign, of sorts, and my previous research had told me that the trail was a seven mile loop so what could go wrong?  Well, my research, for starters.

Almost immediately I was immersed deep in the middle of a fathomless maze of trails both paved, gravel, and dirt.  Now, in the interest of honest reporting, the truth probably is (as near as I can ascertain) that if I had stuck to the paved portion, I wouldn't have found myself two hours later pedaling REALLY hard in traffic as the sun started becoming more of a glow than a shine.  My legs most likely (if I had stayed on the paved part) would not right now be soaking in a hot tub of epsom salts to ease the slings and arrows of inadvertedly blundering through a hedge of stinging nettles.

And that was the easy part.

Lost and Lonely Child
Somehow I got turned around.  I kept having opportunities to blast down some kind of clean white gravel road, only to find it taper off  to a pine needle trail going into an abrupt turn.  When these turns erupted I was usually looking at a hawk or a gopher tortoise or, truth be told, just pedaling hard and paying no attention.

And my research (questionable, at best) says they have singletrack!

                                      Goodnight, Irene
This place is several square miles and I managed, in my tentative foray to "check out the trailhead" rode pretty hard for a couple hours.  I exited the park ten miles from my hotel, pretty much lost and now, after two hours in the wilderness, pedaling with all I had left in me in commuter traffic, the sun below the horizon and my water bottle empty.  No lights, of course.

What's it all about?  Man, you tell me.  I really did this.  I really did drive over here in my usual Family Circus fashion of getting around, then go for my first ride in a long time.  It really was an epic three hour ride involving a new bicycle, three wetland crashes and a one hour blast through dangerous traffic.

Fourth Floor, Please
I'm in the elevator.  I've been awake for 24 hours and my legs are bleeding a little, the blood isn't much but it's draining into my socks. I still have on my construction clodhoppers.  The door is about to close but then a pretty old couple approaches and I hit the "Hold" button.  They hesitate.  

"Come on in," I say.  "Are you going up?"

"Yes," says the gentleman.  "I've never seen a bicycle on an elevator," he says.  He and his wife get on.

"My brother Peter rode a bicycle all over the place," says the lady. "He had epilepsy and couldn't get a license to drive a car."

"He was a lucky guy,"  I say.  The elevator doors close.  We're headed up.  

La Quinta Inn, North Tampa

Friday, May 1, 2015

At Least I Didn't Just Sneak Out the Back Door

Lurker At the Threshold

I keep coming here and typing an opening sentence then deleting it and going back to looking at pictures of Surly bicycles that maybe I can afford but am too cheap to purchase. Plus Little Miss Dangerous is just sitting here in the stand, painted, ready; last week I got the new Shimano bar-end shifters and the crazy NOS Sachs front derailleur that I hope will Solve Everything but I'm afraid to find out.

Still Half Homeless
Today I spent a lot of time using free library internet (and air-conditioning) and converted every single post of the Trailer Park Cyclist Blog into PDF's. As I was doing it, I realized what I was up to...That's it, guys, I know my own subconscious self and I'm pretty sure that's all she wrote for the News From the Whispering Pines. But there is some pretty good stuff in those hundred-plus pieces and I made myself laugh (alot) and I dunno...maybe I thought I would break the news here, if indeed such a belated announcement can even qualify as news...I haven't typed up a post in almost a year and I noticed just recently that a most of my friends have quietly removed me from their Blog Rolls.

To Be Or Whatever
So what's it all about? Well, working long days out of town and being away from the bike for so long at a time has a whole bunch to do with it, I suppose. Most of my writing (the good stuff, anyway) takes place late at night after I have crossed a magic threshold (Okay, when I'm drunk). Nowadays out there on the road I am sleeping in the wee hours, resting...

Plus, let's face it: every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. It all has to end, sooner or later. There has to be an ending. A good story always does, anyway. End, I mean. Otherwise, what are we to think? Did everything work out? Did the hero triumph? Did Good win out over Evil?

Not that I ever tackled much in the way of Big Thoughts. I tried, but what can I say? I have always been more of the Jester than the Sage, which is fine with me. I once said that there is nothing that happens in our lives that sooner or later we can't laugh about. I'm not sure if I was right about that, but while Sooner is always here Later has yet to come, so who knows? God, I guess, and...wait for it...the Storyteller. He knows how it ends. He ends it. All the good storytellers do, anyway. End it, I mean.

But Sequels Are Never As Good
But hey! There are sequels (and prequels) and god knows how many other ways to only pretend to quit. Me, I'm just glad I finally got off my ass and PDF'd those posts. Now I have to scrounge up the money for some printer ink and I'll print them all out. I will sort and red-line and make notes and then pull it all together as best I can with maybe a dramatic and touching backstory or who knows, maybe I'll just tell the simple truth (which is never simple) and I don't know...

But this is it...this is true and about a year ago something changed for me and the Trailer Park Cyclist wasn't who I was anymore. Trust me, nothing changed but my mind. I still live in the trailer park and I still ride my bicycle (sometimes) and I still suffer through budget (and heart) breaking repairs and Little Miss has been in the stand for a year now...

I just ain't the ol' TPC anymore. I jumped back into the workaday world and it was a kind of suicide. There are reasons and family (of a sort) obligations and there are people who count on me, again. I had to go back to being a grown up and I don't like it. But I was always doomed to be a Do the Right Thing kind of guy and here I am, doing it. I hope.

So Just Go Already
I don't know how to pull the plug, exactly. While I was figuring out the PDF thing today at the Library I saw a Delete Your Blog button. That certainly sent a shiver down my spine and it would take a whole lot of beer and rum for that button to get pushed. And they frown on weeping drunks fooling with the computers at our local branch and even have a cop there (not too sober-looking himself) to make sure it doesn't happen. But I owe it to all my thousands and thousands of loyal readers (tee hee) to at least say goodbye.

But this isn't goodbye. I will still get all boozed up and come by your Blogs and leave long rambling comments that are related to your post by the merest thread...I'll still go to Drunk Cyclist about once every three months and start trouble and then disappear. I have ridden (rode, rided?) a bicycle since I was about three years old and that will never change. I just am going to set aside my Trailer Park Cyclist gig, (for what it's worth) for now and see what happens.

As endings and farewells go this one ain't so hot but I had to try. I can't explain what I don't understand myself so, well, this is what you get.

Yer old buddy,


Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Trails End

May 1, 2015

Saturday, August 2, 2014


You Can't Always Get What You Want
Enigmatic lyrics from a different century echo through my mind as I stand here typing at five in the morning. I am home now, home for the first time in twenty five days. August is upon us and that means lots of heavy rain and even heavier heat but what of that? This is Florida. This is what happens here in the last half of summer and if ya don't like it, move to France or Mars or one of those places where everybody else lives. Me, I'm a Trailer Park Cyclist and bad weather and sultry realities are part of what makes up the wild ride I am on and bicycles, too.

What About the Bicycles?
Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog (ever a steadfast companion) is fixated on a chameleon that is driving her mad, changing colors and dashing about the trailer in an effort to escape her stern doggy gaze. This lizard is big and lithe and overfed, an obvious recipient of my open-hearted generosity. There are holes in the screens, you see, and when you abandon a crappy trailer for weeks at a time in the heart of a Florida summer, There Will Be Bugs. I only mention the chameleon in context with the bicycles. Here is what happened. Daisy, banging through the bike shop/living room in pursuit of this slithering lizard ghost, knocked over the recently painted frame of Little Miss Dangerous, my 1981 Schwinn Super LeTour dream machine. Immediately recalcitrant, she bows her head in apology but then thrusts forward yet again, ever in pursuit of this rascally reptile who I know; I know this lizard, it has been hanging out around my writing table for quite awhile now and he is welcome here, in my home. I really don't seem to have a choice in the matter, chameleons come and go at their own discretion and if only I could get my Yellow Dog to grasp that all things not-canine are not necessarily adversaries I think her world and mine would be a far more peaceful place.

Hang In There
But dogs and lizards have their own agendas, as do I: sitting here on the table next to the antique (XP!) Dell 6000 computer that I utilize for my ramblings and ravings, sitting here in spectacular black leather glory is a Brooks B-17 Imperial bicycle saddle. I have the wrench and the kooks at Brooks also included some red white and blue lacing tied to the rails. I don't know what these lacings are for or if Brooks does this for every customer but for now I will imagine that it was done just for me.

Home Again
It all ties together, this bicycle seat and the knocked-over frame, the chameleon and the all ties together. Stripped of parts, Little Miss has spent the last three weeks baking in an un-air conditioned trailer. Her new paint, a silver and black metal-flake rattle-can job applied by a pro (me) is really cool and a a diametric opposite of the flat black of two years ago. The flat black was sweet and murdered-hip, but it was also soft and easily scratched and this will be, probably, the last rebuild for Little Miss. So she gets a snappy-shiny paint job and about ten coats of clear gloss spray and she gets all-new drive parts; here on my bench is a new crankset and chain and derailleur and tires and everything. Everything. This bicycle has changed my life. I owe her a lot, really. The first post of this Booger, Coyote Brings Me A Bicycle (Project), tells all about the way I found a new path and new friends and in many ways a new reality.

And Again
Meanwhile, the fat chameleon has sneaked around and sits here now, inches away, glaring at me. I am his friend, but he doesn't know that yet. The Yellow Dog is outside on the porch, greeting the new day. Me? I'm out of rum and beer at sunrise; a new day is dawning and I am without beer and rum but I am ready. I am ready and Little Miss will soon enough be decked out in her new array and it will be a good last half of this year, this future-time, this 2014.

Of this I am certain.

Yer pal, tj
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Reptile Refuge

August 1, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014

Owner of a Lonely Heart

From the Desk of the Trailer Park Cyclist
Hey, guys.  Are all of you reading Cycling In the South Bay?  Authored by Seth Davidson, Esq. it is almost the anti-Trailer Park Cyclist blog.  He's a decent human who pretends not to be, a successful attorney and a racing-type cyclist.  Like I said, kind of a Bizarro World TPC.  Plus he's skinny.

Whatever the case, I DO read it and last night, while in me cups, as they say, I read this comment by Erik and it threw me into a tailspin of sorts, which ain't hard to do.  Go read the original post.  But this comment by our brother Erik stands alone and says more about cycling than everything I have ever written.  

ERIK Comments at Cycling In the South Bay
I always enjoy your tales of childhood, because they remind me so much of my own. Though I’m about 10-15 years younger than you, so the wussification of Suburbia was well underway by the ’80′s. Either way, I spent my summer days in the woods. Learned to curse during the summer after first grade in a long string of nonsense profanity that involved tits and balls, but not cunts and cocks. We had a neighbor with a pump track in his yard that we’d poach (you never asked ANYONE if you were allowed to do something, you just did it), and my steel-frame Huffy with plastic mag wheels was my steed from about 3rd grade until well into high school before I got my first road bike, which was actually my mom’s. It was a white chromoly Puch, about 4 cm too small for me, with a squeaky rear brake – so I only ever used the front. One evening I was riding without a light, head down, when I looked up at the last second to see a parked car where there never was one. I grabbed the front brake in a death grip and went right over the handlebars with the bike still between my legs onto the trunk of the car. I rung the doorbell across the street and apologized for the few tiny dents and scratches to the trunk, and offered to pay for them. She never called me back. I rode all over town on that thing when i was 15-16, and the only reason I ever started learning to drive was because it got stolen when i dropped it in the grass behind the bank one evening while I ran int to get 10 bucks. I was in there 5 minutes and the bike was gone that fast. I’ll never forget the dread of my first stolen bike. It was like the first time you loose sight of your child in a big crowd, only you know it’s never coming back. That bike was my escape from a shitty new life in a new town with an alcoholic step-father and his sociopath sons, that began abruptly the day after my last day of 10th grade after 10 years of my father’s long and destructive descent into untreated schizophrenia. I miss that bike.

Friday, June 27, 2014

We Are the Gods

This is an old back-burner post that I just found while surfing the archives of the Trailer Park Cyclist Blog.  I really got a kick out of it and I have absolutely no memory of writing it.  Channeling my inner Thoreau, no doubt.

I hope you like it.


Observe:  I have here in my left hand...
Throughout history scholars have despaired of our race, our species. As far back as Socrates, probably. Maybe even farther back, all the way to Thales, who if I remember correctly was Socrates' Grandpa. My Greek History ain't that strong. But also there is the Old Testament. Plenty of complaining about mankind in there! Mostly by God. He creates man and calls him Adam and Adam looks lonely and so God creates (stop me if you've heard this one) woman and calls her Eve...or Adam did I don't remember and I'm too lazy to look it up. If you want careful scholarship go to the library and check out a book, for chrissake's. This is the Trailer Park Cyclist and I'm typing in a trailer that actually resembles a beat up old railroad boxcar from the Depression. The Great Depression, not this pathetic little depression that everyone seems to think is over except for me, cause I'm still here in this...wait...

Sometimes I Get Sidetracked
So God created the first episode of I Love Lucy and then, of course, the trouble started. Lucy got pregnant and had little Ricky, except in the Bible version his name was Cain and he wandered the Old West playing a flute and kung-fu fighting and spouting wisdom in a way that makes him sound like maybe he got kicked by a mule...

Different Cain.

“What's that, Voice? I'm kinda busy here.”

I said that you are confusing Kane the fictional Shaolin monk with the first natural born human, Cain, who by the way, was also the world's first murderer.

“The Kung-fu guy?”

Of course not.

“I know, Voice, I was just messin' with ya.  Now let me get back to work, here."

Goldfish Bowl
So anyway, even back in the very beginning of time (as recorded by the religious right) God was usually pissed and I often wonder about that. My Grandpa was a kind of god to me, when I was little, and he was an avid keeper of tropical fish. It was a big deal.  One medium sized tank, carefully arranged and meticulously cared for and he loved those fish.  The tank in his den was holy and after supper we would sit and study on the fish and he would sometimes tell me stories. Not much though, he was half Cherokee and given to the taciturn nature of the Natives, but let us set that aside for now. The important part of the fish story I am sharing here is that my grandfather was never angry at his fish. He never complained about the fish or changed his mind and, uh, flooded the fish tank or blast out his wrath and holler at the fish like some kind of drunk on the roof or otherwise piss and moan and send other, bossier and holier-than-thou fish into the tank to tell the other fish how to live or how to pray and if Gramps ever sacrificed his favorite firstborn fish for the good of the other fish I never heard about it.

But I was little and maybe there were things I shouldn't know about.

I'm Glad That's Cleared Up
So: Good Morning, everybody! It's your old buddy Tim Joe and now that the right hand has got all of you looking at the left hand I'll say what's on my mind. It has not one damn thing to do with religion or politics; religion and politics are the crayons we use to color inside the lines that are being drawn somewhere by forces we don't know about and never will, completely. Even though I am a conspiracy nut, I try not to indulge in conspiracy theory. “Geronimo!” Hah! , remember that? Back when we all still loved poor Mel Gibson, the Lance Armstrong of Hollywood. No, what I'm up to right now is trying to get a handle on the news. The other morning I was bored and since the recent storms provided me with a rich windfall of firewood I foolishly decided to fire up the Ol' Quasitron 6000 Steam Powered Search Engine and see what has been happening lately in the world outside the Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Fish Camp.

Ladies and Gentlemen!  The Quaz!
I carefully arranged the abacus-style keyboard to form the word “Wassup?!” and tapped the glass on the dials to make sure nothing was stuck. I made a quick note that I was going to need another five gallons of Brasso, various parts were turning green. Then, leaping up, I grabbed the big Go! chain and let my weight (plentiful as it is) pull the giant flywheel into action and set things to spinning...

TPC Editoral Office

Recession Over, Everyone is Rich Again... well, that's certainly good news. I guess my check is in the mail. I give the brass wheel another spin.

Economic Improvement Results In Uptick of Housing Market, People Buying Larger Homes...
“The Wall Street Journal reports today that the upturn in the marketplace and an increase in new home construction is revealing that first-time homeowners are once again buying larger homes, in record amounts. These indicators of a reviving economy were good news to Wall Street and hint at a light at the end of...

“STOP RIGHT THERE!” I screamed, almost blinded by the tears of rage and the overwhelming sense of absolute incredulity I was suffering as I read these words. I grabbed the slowly spinning Search wheel and gave it another spin. Dashing up the steel stairs to the keyboard, I quickly, sheer dread numbing my fingers, rearranged the beads to say “What About the Cars...” Then stumbling back down the stairs to the big six by ten foot cathode ray black and white screen, I saw only static and a rolling horizontal bar. Kicking the Quazitron injudiciously, I watched in dread as the screen cleared and I saw what I knew would be there:

Automobile Manufactures Report Record Sales...
“Major automotive retailers reported today that sales have reached a five year high. Leading the market were the new “crossover” cars with improved fuel economy, many getting over twenty miles mpg...

I hopped over and collapsed into my chair. I propped my throbbing foot up on an old discarded wire spool I had found somewhere in the Park.

If I were God, or even just a drunk on the roof, I would right now be screaming at the fish.

Cue Sam Kennison

Here We Go Again
Obviously not. We are obviously not paying attention. Like precious tropical fish in an aquarium we foul our tank with our waste. But there is no kindly halfbreed god to change the water and check our pH. It is up to us. No matter how wealthy we become, we will continue to be slaves until foreign oil is no longer of even the least interest to us or to the benefit of our national economy. “They” know this. “They” don't care. They know we are stupid and oblivious and distracted by bright flashing images and shiny new things.

Forced To Get It Right
I discovered this “base-life” that I am living by accident. One major mishap in my business, a contract that I didn't get, put me on hold. It kept going. New work came in, but it was not enough to support our lifestyle. We moved to the Pines, temporarily, three years ago. The Blonde, despairing of me ever again rising to my former glory, was forced to get her now teenage twins out of the trailer park. This place is one foul fish tank indeed. She moved into a condo in town and I moved into this boxcar, because it was free. Then the microwave blew up, a victim of way too many chinese noodle suppers. Later, the refrigerator died. There was no money to replace these things. I put them into the trailer park recycle pile and swept the floor where they had been. I shook off the dust. I have been living without these necessities for awhile now. I barely miss them. I started counting how much electricity such a life needed. Not much.

Sure, It Works For You, But You're Weird
I realize that most people could not live this way. Not American People, I mean. Otherwise, there are people living this way all over the planet. Up until about a hundred years ago, everyone lived this way. We were just not doing it right. Coal smoke blackened the sky and disease spread rapidly, as it is wont to do in a fish tank. But we could do it better, and we did. But...

Everytime necessity forces us to get it right, we rally our resources and do so.  Things then get better, of course, and then...we go right back to doing the things that started the problem in the first place.

Lifestyles of the Down and Out
I'm living without an air conditioner. In Florida. In the summer. It's no big deal. I have screened all my windows and moved some walls around and set things up so I can catch the breeze no matter from what direction it comes. I have strategically-placed fans. Life without refrigeration is a little tougher. I miss drinking cold-as-hell beer. I don't drink ice tea, or milk or chilled lemonade. I drink room temp water from the tap. I'm still alive. But yeah, a refrigerator would be nice. Before it died, I was using one of those little dormitory units. It was plenty. The microwave? I never did trust those things anyway.

I'm not holier-than-thou, I hope. Just poor as hell. But I am, on purpose or not, a kind of warrior. I am a soldier in the Fuck You Army. Fuck you and your oil! I'll walk, pedal my bicycle or take public transportation. If I need to get my tools to a job site, I'll hire a Cab Truck in the appropriate size to haul my gear to the job, where I will store it with my fellow tradesmen in our surplus-purchased shipping containers.

When off work, I can get anywhere I want to go on the buses and trains that run every fifteen minutes. There are bicycle cars that are a blast to ride in, a chance to hang out with my fellow cyclists. There are public bike stands at every stop.

Since we overcame 'Them” and initiated a national movement to outlaw private ownership of automobiles, oil is cheap, and local governments have been able to rebuild failing infrastructure to support sustainable transportation. Our downtowns are alive and hoppin', with food stands and cool saloons with bicycles tied up out front instead of horses, even though horses are also making a comeback. Horse crap ain't a problem; urban gardeners fight over the stuff.

Now that we have all caught our collective breath and returned to sanity, the immigration problem has gone away. We're doing our own dirty work now, since it doesn't take a small fortune to support a family of four anymore. The poor immigrants all left, headed for China.

Every Movement Needs Someone To Blame
The strangest twist of all was how, based on the writings of a simple little man living in a trailer park in Florida, we changed our way of looking at life. It became ridiculous to want More. We learned to laugh at greed. Our national and tribal incentives were toward Less. Popular culture faded away, pretty much. The silly and pompous became more than just foolish; excess wealth and power struggle and avaricious intent came to be considered a sin punishable by death. (Yeah, we killed them. Brittany was the first to go) After Simple and Poor became the New Rich, professional athletes and big name actors (like Mel) were endangered species that we didn't try to protect. Heroes to us these days are the people who are living the simplest, doing the most with the least. There are local competitions for the Least Awards.

The Malls are all livestock barns now. There are waiting lists for trailers in small mobile home communities. Local craftsmen build our furniture, we eat locally grown crops. There is plenty of everything. Even for the bums. In fact, like ancient Greece we have bums who we indulge. They think they are philosophers, but really we just get a kick out of their bullshit.

We owe all this to the Cyclist who showed us that to have too much was a true crime, against man and nature. There is no benevolent keeper-of the-tank to take care of us. If we don't learn to live simply by choice, our descendants will learn to live simply by necessity. We are the Gods. It is Us.

All Hail The Trailer Park Cyclist!
Glory Be To The Trailer Park Cyclist!

Hey, wake up!

“Wha...where, uh..I guess I nodded off.”

You were laying there on the floor snoring like an old hog. It was positively indecent. 

“Uh, sorry, Voice, I got a little worked up over the news...”

I don't know why you even bother. Anyway, get up, I want you to meet my cousin Earl.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Dream Machine
Written Sometime in 2012-13, posted June 27,2014 (the future)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cromwell Gets A Bicycle

The Doldrums
Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog and Toby the Love Puppy are trying to get a grip on this their new reality: they have their own fan. They have their own dog fan, a sweet little unit I picked up for a measly twelve dollars. It is one of those cheap square box fans but it is set on High here in our sultry Old Hawks Park in my not-air-conditioned mobile home/barn; they just cannot believe their luck and Toby, an amateur yodeler, has already learned that howling weird noises into the blades of the fan results in all manner of fun sounds that cause Miss Daisy to run outside and hide under the trailer.

For What It's Worth
Such is the life of the Trailer Park Cyclist. Simple pleasures and dog tricks; carpentry and drinking and just getting by in these doldrums of the sorta-post recession and a recent Presidency that will leave all of us, I think, saying “What was that? What just happened?” It may have been an example of don't let the Right Hand know what the Left Hand is doing but I will take it, these doldrums. The absolutely unbelievable stupidity and ruthless cruelty of the crew before this one leaves me weary and old and fearing for my future, sometimes...I'll take a boring administration anytime over a war mongering idiot and a supporting cast of Cold War leftovers.

And yet: guess who's coming to dinner. No, he ain't black, we already did that: he is uber-white and the true scion of this weird Skull and Bones dynasty that didn't exactly ruin everything, but not for want of trying. And yet, having lived under his governorship with no complaints and faced with the other dynasty out of Arkansas I will, pending the debates, make mine Jeb.

This page is not, usually, political (that's a bald-faced lie) but I have a lot on my mind right now. For one thing, I am old and feeble and I am supposed to be doing my Captain Ron routine somewhere South of here and on my way to work each day I pass the anchorage and there they are; the sailboats. But I know the truth about sailboats and I also know I am too lazy to bother with getting in a boat and risking my life just to get to a new saloon. I live in a tourist town and there are plenty of watering holes around here that real sailors can't wait to get back to from some crappy Carribean Island where beers cost twice as much as usual and if you can afford to buy enough beer to get arrested you will find out that there are no bail bondsmen and the Embassy has an unlisted number.

As Always...
But what about bicycles, you ask? Even if you didn't, I'll tell you: this afternoon I assembled a Bicycle Shop Warehouse bicycle for my old friend Cromwell. The first thing I did was motor up to his pottery shop in my antique Ford pickup truck. I drive nowhere except for work, but I had my Park bicycle work stand in the back and Cromwell, ever a sucker for flash, was impressed that such a device even existed, needless to say that such a one as me might actually own one. But that is the nature of me and Crom's relationship, however tenuous it may be; for example he has never visited these pages, even though he knows all about them...maybe. But enough of that. Instead, let me tell you about the Motobecane hybrid he bought and I put together.

It was sweet. The welds were the same, if not neater, than my '91 aluminum frame Mongoose Alta. Even with a cheap Suntour suspension fork, the overall bicycle was light. Plenty light. The chain was lightly lubed with clear oil and all the gears shifted just fine, straight out of the box.

Motobecane Elite Sport

Always There Are Caveats
There is this to know: The seat post was crap. Total crap. The Tecktro Brakes were marginal, at best. The suspension fork I cannot comment on, because suspension forks are totally alien to me. But when I took the test ride, thirty minutes after opening the box, I was flying in slow traffic like a Quicksilver remake was in the offing and it was really cool how the nose dived when you put on the front brake. I shifted through all the front derailleur gears and all the rear ones too. I didn't cross-chain anything because that ain't my way and everything worked just fine. I would buy one of these bicycles, I think, except that this was the lowest-end offering in the Motobecane Elite series...and I don't ride hybrids.

At least, not yet. This bicycle was plenty quick and the Altus rear unit and the Tourney front was a bit rough, but still serviceable. With the little riding that Cromwell does, it may be years before this new drive train breaks in and smooths out. With me, not so long. If that bicycle I assembled this afternoon were mine, she would be seeing thirty miles by sundown and probably a bicycle sick-day tomorrow. I haven't ridden to Daytona for a long time now.

Some Days Are Better Than Others
The sun is setting over the yardarm, maybe; at least it would be if I were on my boat and knew what a yardarm was. Since I ain't and I don't, what I will do instead is pedal down to the closest House of Spirits and grab some grog. Cheap beer too and here we are, all of us; and here is Miss Daisy and the Love Puppy and here comes sundown and the dogs have a cooling fan to lie in front of; it is a better day, now, for the dogs and not such a bad day for the Trailer Park Cyclist. I got to play the part of the wise old bike guru and the Park work stand got a supporting role; I did something worth doing today and I also was the first person to ride a brand-new bicycle that did its job just fine.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Bike Shop

May 28, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Nowhere Man

Lazy Day
As I enter the fourth week of my involuntary vacation (I'm unemployed again, apparently) I find myself taking longer and longer rides on my bicycle. My goal is to live on my bike, a term we all are familiar with, I suppose, but at the same time, what does it mean?

This is the best time of year where I live here in Florida. The thermometer hovers around 75 degrees during the day, the nights are cool and the windows are open. Overnight, it seems, my world turned green, everywhere it is green and cool and the breezes are just right, blustery sometimes and variable, as they say, but just right all the same. Also, I don't know if they are migrating or just suddenly found themselves down and out and living in a trailer park, but all manner of birds have arrived, robins and cardinals and woodpeckers and bluejays and others; I can hear, as I sit here at my table, chirpings and singing and squawkings and they sound as though they are having a blast, those birds. At least I hope they are.

Destination Home
As for me, I have been riding not far, but long. Ever a master of time and space, I know how to do it, this drifting, this going nowhere and taking my time to get there. I have been doing probably thirty miles, maybe more, each day, setting out around ten a.m. when my Florida world is perfect: the sun just right, the cars settled into their routines and cadences; I pedal off with nowhere to go and nothing to do when I get there. What I am usually doing is poking around out on the far corners of town, looking at one acre pieces of ground that I have found listed for sale on the internet. Small pieces of uncut jungle, mostly, the kind of places homeless guys who truly live on their bicycles are known to seek out. Places that are not too far from supermarket sustenance or the conveniences (and bathrooms) of handy neighborhood parks and public libraries.

Are you going anywhere with this? You seem to be rambling.

“Silence, Voice! I know what I'm doing here, mostly.”

Well, a lot of people read this stuff at work and don't have much time and besides, aren't you supposed to be concise and sparkling and kill somebody by the end of the first chapter?

“What? Kill somebody?”

Yeah and then you spend about a hundred and fifty pages having the hero sort things out and you sprinkle in some red herrings and false plants and misdirection and there is lots of action. Plus you can use juxtaposition and non-linear timelines to keep the reader off-balance and...

“Voice! Stop! Calm down! What the hell are you talking about? You sound like you've been auditing writing classes out at some Junior College somewhere. Wait a that where you...”

Well, someone has to do it! I didn't have anything else to do while you were off in the outback building those stupid McGrease's. At least one of us is trying to better himself and find a way out of this damn trailer park.

“OK, buddy, take it easy. You just caught me by surprise there, for a minute. Look, this piece here ain't a murder mystery, it's just a rambling post about, uh, rambling. And, by the way, that stuff you were spouting is what results in formulaic fiction. You're better than that, partner.”

What we need is a formula for some dollars. I really like that property out on Cow Creek Road. The one with the little pond and the big oak out front.

“I like that one, too. Let me finish up here and we'll pedal out there and have another look.”

Waiting For FedEx
So there you have it. That's what I am doing, these days: pedaling around on some new trails, new roads that are familiar to me and yet, not; I'm looking at my roads a little differently. Things look different when you are seeking a new place, a new home...

To that end I recently fired off one of my yearly $100 (free shipping!) bike parts orders. There will be newer, fatter tires, a rear rack (and a front one as well) and a new seat and a light kit. I am prepping my old Schwinn Le Tour, Little Miss Dangerous, getting her ready for living on my bicycle. Not homeless, but ready. I was waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a magical time when I could buy some Surly or Velo Orange dream machine, but reality has set in (as it is wont to do) and it occurred to me that Little Miss could get the job done just fine. We'll find out.

TJ the DJ
I recently started listening to music while I ride, plugging in earphones and streaming mostly what is called New Age or Ambient music. I previously scorned such a practice as unsafe, but so far it seems safe enough. For my aimless roaming around town at lazy speeds it seems safe enough for me. And it has opened an entirely new dimension, (almost literally) of riding. If I were on a fast intermodal run or on my way to someplace I had to be, it wouldn't work, I don't think. But for just rambling around the countryside, or doing big figure eight's in the empty parking lot of a failed strip mall, it is just right.

A lot of things are just right, lately. That would make a good name for a bicycle company, don't you think? Just Right Bikes.

Success Is Mine, Sayeth the Cyclist
Yesterday, after about four hours in the saddle, I was coming around a bend in the road and for just a moment, a brief flickering moment of time and life, I did not know where I was. Lost in a dream, flutes and tinkling bells and acoustic guitar echoing around the vast empty spaces of my mind, I suddenly found myself disoriented and with absolutely no idea where I was. I only knew that I was on my bicycle, pedaling to the rhythm of my heart, lost.

That's what I am trying for, it seems; I'm trying to pedal my way to another place. I think it is working.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and House of Dreams
April 18, 2014