Friday, June 1, 2012

Signs and Portents


Dark Clouds
After the Last Cookout that took place under glowering thunderclouds of unrest, I found myself the next morning shuffling through the living room/bike shop/kitchen of my trailer, wondering why my faithful yellow dog was growling at me from under the workbench, wondering where my pants had got to and wondering if there was any more beer in the refrigerator. I went to look but imagine my surprise when I saw that my dorm-size little reefer unit was not there. I scratched my head and other parts and shuffled over to the coffee maker. I flipped up the lid and it gracefully detached itself and flew out the window.

“This ain't gonna be a normal Monday,” I found myself thinking. So I got my white steed down from the work stand, took her outside and prepared to ride a wobbly ride to the Seven-Eleven for a much needed jolt of caffeine. What I saw out there worried me greatly. No carnage. No bodies, no empty beer cans, no rib bones or discarded rum bottles. The whole party area was neat and swept and the plastic chairs wiped and stacked. There was my little fridge, humming contentedly on the patio.

“Not good,” I said out loud. Daisy growled a little louder from under the bench. I knew I would need coffee before anything else and started to mount my bike, then realized I had not yet solved the missing pants problem. Way back when I was a young rascal I learned to always put my pants in the same place every night in case I had to find them in the dark, due to fire or police or early arrivals. (I have an old friend about whom I could write volumes. One time down in Costa Rica he had a particularly ravishing tica with whom he would spend many an amorous afternoon lounging in languid joy. Her husband was a disc jockey at the local radio station and they would tune in his show as a kind of timer for their liaisons. The husband, smelling a rat (an Anglo rat) as jealous husbands often do, got crafty and taped the last hour of his program and headed home early. My friend, about whom I could write volumes, no longer goes to Costa Rica. He really liked it there, too.)

Meanwhile...
Where was I? Oh yes, my pants. I went back into the house, simultaneously realizing that wherever my pants were, there also was my wallet. Seven-Eleven coffee is pricy. But No. No pants. So I dug into my trunk for my other pair, went over to my change jar and dug out as many quarters as I could, pulled on my least crusty t-shirt and saddled up to sally forth towards one of my highly rare ventures into a commercial chain-type retail establishment.

It's Better In the Morning
Man! How seldom I get out on the bike at the sunrise hour! Birds were singing and the air was as crisp and delightful and as breathable as, uh, as...the air was cool and sweet and an early gentle tailwind pushed me and the bike down the sidewalk for a ghosting mellow glide that was just the thing for a hung-over Monday morning. Fresh from the depths of my dreams and the bemusedly befuddled stupor of too much drink and too much food and too much shouting, knowing damn well that there was something drastically out of kilter with this Monday morning and my life at the Park, I didn't care.

Magic In the Morning
I didn't care, man! What magic there is in a bicycle! I was a soggy Superman, bedecked in a clean uniform, flying slowly and gracefully on patrol the half-mile to the coffee store. I have moments of glory on my bike, fierce battles with the wind:  I have times when I find myself so far from home that I have to wonder how I got there; there are odd sightings of road kill, human monkeyshines and frequently unbelievable driving by normal-looking people who must in reality be Hollywood stunt drivers. There are, indeed, many stories to tell...but I hereby declare in print and in writing with my hand on my heart (or where my heart would be if I had one), that there is NOTHING that compares to the quiet slow glide and the first few pedal strokes of an early morning sojourn into yet another glorious day.

Meanwhile, Back At the Park
But enough of that. I got my coffee and I got back home to my oddly neat homestead and I found my pants and soon learned that the events of the previous evening were just as gruesome as the lack of physical evidence implied; but this  Booger is a Happy Place (or tries to be) and a Blog of Bicycles, not Drama. So we will set that tale aside for another day.

I Rode Some Riding
Instead, let's talk about yesterday's ride. I got in 55 miles without dying and I had a blast. The wind has apparently chosen me for its own pet toy on the semi-long rides. It somehow manages to always stay from the same direction: whichever one I am headed. But in typical trailer park fashion, I am rebellious and I laugh at the wind. Hah! Hah! LOL! LMFAO!  Take that, Aeolus!  I boldly pedal off, ignoring his  breezy replies and I do my miles, man. I rode up to Daytona against the wind, hacking away at it with strong legs and a head full of recent trouble and worry that made me strong; manic but strong. (My friend, about whom I could write volumes, used to be a wrestler. He called it “retard strong,” which I have always found hilarious in context, but of course otherwise politically incorrect. Although retardation and politics seem to be correct enough in context, if you ask me.)

Blowout!
Just across the way from the Daytona Racetrack I was hitting a good lick, doing 22 mph with a momentary and rare tailwind, something I have learned to take advantage of and enjoy whenever it happens, however fleeting. An ambulance was wailing up from behind and this is a busy and confused thoroughfare filled with uncertain drivers of the touristy variety; they sometimes forget that they are driving a rented automobile as they gaze in awe at the Giant Stadium of Vehicular Wonder there alongside the road. I was listening over my shoulder as that siren grew louder and wondering if it might not be something to worry about as distracted drivers pulled over to get out of the way; then I remembered that this is Florida and nobody pulls over for police cars or ambulances except for the European tourists who might be mistaking all the commotion for an invasion from Mars.

But imagine my surprise as the ambulance blasted past me and at THAT PRECISE MOMENT had a massive blowout on their right rear tire! KABLAM!   I mean man, it was LOUD and I was certain that the debris and escaping compressed air would mark my doom. The ambulance swerved dramatically into my path and I knew that I was in trouble because everything shifted into slow motion which is a sure sign of impending calamity. I had nowhere to go: as usual the bike lane was serving as emergency parking or a place to pull over and take pictures of the quaint and scruffy Florida Homeless Cyclist. To my right was an un-jumpable curb and to my left was four lanes of freaked out drivers, so I did what I had to do: I locked up the brakes, got a little sideways and came to rest about four feet from the back of that disabled meat wagon.

Good Ol' Schwinn
As near as I can ascertain those are the original 1981 brake pads and they did their job just fine. I climbed over the curb, felt the rear of my bibs to make sure there was nothing in there but padding and then was surprised to realize that this tumultuous event took place directly across the highway from that Outback Steakhouse job that I have been stalking! What does it all mean? I can sense that the Gods are talking to me, but as usual, they are talking God-talk. Why don't they just do it like the Old Testament, where God would say “Hey Jonah, I need you to get over to Kentucky (or wherever it was) and tell the people there a bunch of stuff.” Then, unlike Jonah, I would go to Kentucky and Speak the Word, as long as God helped out with some bus fare.

But this is 2012 and these modern Gods speak in mysterious words that they probably get off Twitter, which I don't understand.

The Coffee Was Good
But the coffee? The coffee was good. I am proud that I can glide a half mile on my trusty thirty-year-old white ten speed with one hand without spilling a drop.  It gives me pleasure to bravely survive drastic vehicular events,  although I do wonder what happened to the victim that the crippled ambulance was on it's way to save.  The Pines Are Whispering and I am confidant that if the Gods have a Message that they want me to carry to Kentucky or anywhere else, they will sooner or later find a way to tell me. Until then, the mornings are sweet, the air is fine and these days, well,  these days that is enough for me.

Peace my Friends! There is more to tell and I am here to tell it!

Yer pal,

tj

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Survival School
#67

18 comments:

  1. I do believe you are already delivering the message, to Kentucky and elsewhere (including hot and humid Houston). You are here to tell it, and we are here to receive it. Hallelujah.

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    Replies
    1. Amen, Sister. Now I just gotta figure out what I'm talking about.

      tj

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  2. Tell it. Tell it! and by the way...in a perfect world the fridge was restocked.
    Yer Pal
    Zig

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    Replies
    1. Hey Buddy! No such luck on the restock. But it still is a perfect world, in its own weird way. More later.
      tj

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  3. That wind thing is one of the great mysteries of life. Funny how I never noticed it in my former life of driving everywhere.
    It does follow you around to stay in your face no matter the direction you turn.

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  4. No mystery to me Jim. Aeolus hates me. Don't forget I used to sail and rub his nose in my wind dancing ways. Now that I said that the next time I set foot on a sailboat I might as well call the Coast Guard first.

    tj

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  5. Tj,
    I too keep my pants in the same place every night close to the bed. I figure a guy like me who likes to sleep with the sweet freedom from lets say "restriction" is woken up in the middle of the night by marauders and needs to defend himself and his family it's best not to give them one more "thing" to grab,stab or shoot if you know what I mean.

    Always keep it three steps from the door.
    -Tohner-

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    Replies
    1. Wise words indeed, my friend, for while I have many times been caught with my pants down, I at least knew where they were. This time they were in the microwave, which defies all human understanding. The world is a fantastical and mysterious place, wouldn't you agree?

      tj

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  6. Tim Joe I guess your Monday turned pretty much ok compared to mine. I have been adding miles each week to my ride and Monday was to be a few more. About halfway through I was at the top of a hill and decided I needed a break so so I slowed down and tried to get my big feet out of the clipless pedals. well they wouldn't let go so next thing I know I am laying in a muddy ditch covered with mud, blood, and swampy smelling water. After a friend in a car stopped and dug me out of the mess I made the call of shame to the wife and she came and picked me. Then I had to hear about how I need to be more careful, blah, blah, blah. A shower, some first aid creme and a couple beers made it all good.Maybe I'll skip the Monday ride this week.

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  7. Doug, I have never experienced the clipless pedal ground attack because I have never ridden with them. Many friends have recommended them to me and spoken highly of the increased transfer of power. Swell Guy sent me some clipless pedals complete with shoes but when I tried to get them on it looked like Ugly Step-Sister Number Two trying to get her big foot into a dainty glass slipper.

    But everyone speaks highly of them and they always recommend that I ride around at first on some soft grass "because you are sure to fall over a few times."

    At my age falling over once is enough excitement for a lifetime but there are some things you know you can't avoid in life and I realize that sooner or later I will ride with clipless pedals and that I will find myself riding in circles in soft grass (where might that be?) riding in circles with a hopeful smile on my face knowing full well what is coming...

    Had I been wearing clipless last Monday stinky water and mud would have been quite welcome because the back doors of ambulances look hard and unforgiving.

    But you have my sympathies my friend and I will admit to getting a chuckle while I visualized you getting a lecture while being hosed off before being allowed back into the house.

    Remind me to tell you sometime about the first time I drank Tequila.

    tj

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  8. Preach it Velo Brother! 55 miles man I dream about doing 20 Kilometers, got get some more saddle time in, glad to hear you are out there fighting the wind, emergency vehicles and smiling at singing birds. Coffee and cycling is a match made in heaven.

    R

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  9. Thanks, Roadie. I have been trying hard to get as many miles in as I can. Right now the weather has been cooperating just fine. The wind is aggravating, but it does condense the pedaling time into a more strenuous workout, which is what I'm after. I did forty miles yesterday, twenty of which was a 12 mph tailie. So sometimes the fight is worth the sleigh ride home.

    tj

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  10. The world is a fanciful, mysterious, and wonderful place TJ! Thanks for shedding some light on your little corner of it.

    It's interesting how long a pair of brake pads will last, isn't it? I've found that adrenaline will provide enough stopping power no matter what their status.

    Keep the rubber side down, my man! Glad to hear you got a good ride in!

    Pants in the microwave, huh? Wallet too? Your money could have been burning a hole in the pocket! Bwahaha.

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    Replies
    1. If I had any. Hey, did you ride that Century yesterday?

      We look forward to hearing about it.

      tj

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  11. Can't wait to hear what else happened at the cookout. Ha ha! Can't imagine why the refrigerator ended up outside... So no one would have to get up to get more brews?

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  12. No, the interns handle that chore. There had been some stoopid argument about bicycle touring that ended with me vowing to spend the entire summer living out on the patio.

    The pants...well, that has yet to be determined.

    Coming over to read your race report.

    tj

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  13. TJ,

    Geez, that ambulance tire would have scared the bejeezus out of me. I'm already half snake-bit about riding in traffic, what with the people making random insane moves regardless of any innocent rider passing by. That would make me thing about just riding through peoples back yards to get from point A to B.

    I'm with ya about the clipless pedals too. Yeah, I've heard that they make it easier, but if I wanted easy I'd be sitting on the couch. Actually, the reason I don't want them is because it's so easy to ride with platforms.

    Glad to hear you got some saddle time. It's always a blast, but those early morning rides are something amazing. Gotta enjoy the little things, but a morning ride always feels like a bit more than a "little thing".

    Keep on riding.

    Steve Z

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