Monday, March 4, 2013

The Mute Button


“Bicycling Magazine has a contest about “Your Favorite Ride.”

“You mean that magazine I borrowed for you from the dentist's office?”


“You left it in the bathroom. I thought I threw that out.”

“You did. I got it out of the trash can on the way to the dumpster.”


“So if I win I could get a five thousand dollar bicycle as a prize.”

“Yeah, right. I'd like to see you do something like that.”

“Me too.”

“Whadaya want for breakfast?”

“Sausage sandwich and hash browns. And go tell the dogs to shut up. I'm tryin' to think up a five-thousand-dollar story.”

“Well, if anybody has five-thousand dollars worth of bull crap in 'em, it's you.”

My favorite ride takes place not in time and space but is a place in my mind that I can find when alone out in that special place where just me and my bike can be together, alone. That place where we both cease to exist as machine and rider but instead...instead we both can, if only for a minute or an hour, disappear.

We can disappear and only on my bicycle on a quiet ride for a moment in time or on a mystical dawn float at slow speed, floating so slowly in the quiet of dawn that almost, maybe, we are not moving at all, we are flowing gently towards something and yet maybe not moving at all. This is a place I find only when riding my bicycle. It is a place where I feel that I know myself. My bicycle is a trusty friend and carries me to this magic place. It doesn't always happen, for time and space are elusive and the world is a tricky place. Favorite rides are hard to find. This is mine. It is the ride where I lose myself, the bicycle disappears beneath me and there is nothing there: I am a cyclist...

What a pile of woo-hoo, said the Voice.

“Ya think?”


“Well, it's only a rough draft...”

Very rough, said the Voice.

“Here. Those hash browns might be a little crisper than ya wanted. I gotta go get ready for work. You want some hot sauce?”

“When have I ever not wanted hot sauce? And grab me another beer, will ya? I'm trying to find a groove here.”

I climb into the saddle from the top step of the porch so that the morning dew does not dampen my shoes. There is a kind of magic in leaving home when your feet never touch the ground. However far I ride today, I will not touch the Earth. I will float above it, a flying spirit at dawn on my bicycle. The mists of sunrise and the sound of the planet awakening all around us create the music and mystery that make this something special. Sunrise! This is my favorite ride. I am a cyclist.

Coasting slowly towards the river, I adjust my glasses and my gloves and twist around a bit in the saddle, getting ready...

“Dammit Toby! Get off my leg! I swear! If you don't quit humpin' my leg! This is my big chance to get a fancy bicycle! Stoopid dog.”

“It is by riding a bicycle that...”

“Oh great! Not only do I have a dog humping my leg and burnt hash browns for breakfast and now you're here”

“One true sentence..”

“Ernest, once and for all, please put a sock in it! You know how much crap I take from the Voice about simple declarative sentences?”

I've always encouraged you in your work, except for when you indulge in too much woo-hoo.

“I wish my head had a mute button.”

However crazy the world around you feels or the time of day, the act of riding a bicycle is a thing that can be done with minimum effort, little expense and maximum pleasure. This is one such ride. I call it the “Mute Button...”

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Literary Society


  1. We all need a mute button - unfortunately we don't all have one! :) Love it.

    1. Thanks Dan. Back in my workaday life chaos by ten a.m. was the norm and sometimes I miss it. Sometimes. But shutting out the chaos is fun, too. And better, I think.


  2. I was going to win that bike, TJ. Thanks for taking all the pressure off me, pal.

    Up the The Voice's patootie, that first one was fair. Ernest don't know his butt from a bunghole anymore as #2 was top notch. I truly think that opening alone would be a winner!

    Good luck, pal. No one deserves that bike more than you, that's for sure.

    1. P.S. Years ago while selling TVs, a customer called to tell me his had stopped working as in the sound stopped coming out of it. When I asked him what he'd done, he told me, "I mashed the mutt button and the s&$t quit." I explained that if he "mashed it" again, it would be fine.

      We all need a mutt button.

    2. At first I thought the 100 word limit was a typo. I have a hard time ordering a coffee with less than a hundred words. It became a challenge at that point and considering the subjective nature of "favorite" anythings I went with inner/outer space, as usual.

      I don't know if I will submit. Here's why: They ask that you include a picture of you riding your bike. I never where a helmet. I am under no illusions concerning my anti-lycra riding garb: I look like I stole a bicycle on my way home from re-hab when I am out riding.

      So: do I fake it and "dress up" for my photo inclusion, complete with helmet? Fat chance of that. I like "Bicycling" and enjoy reading it anytime one of the Grandkids has a dentist appointment. But I am under no illusion that the magazine exists for any purpose other than selling clothing, helmets, bicycles, gizmos and so on.

      I don't have many principles and I would be pleased to write ad copy selling any damn thing in the world, including televisions, crabon bikes and high hopes of race wins and sleek physiques. But I am hung up on that photo.

      Maybe I could fake 'em out with a picture of Bret, the World Famous Time Traveling Cyclist From the Planet Tri-dork...

  3. both #1and #2 are worthy of a fancy bike. You are the paint brush that creates a bright canvas for cyclists, with the light just so, and our feet never touch the earth because you showed us the way.

    1. Thank you so much, Dee. Writing my ramblings here at the TPC and hanging out with you guys is worth a truckload of fancy bikes.


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  5. Submit Bro Submit! You could make a great submission out of any of those 3 or anything else your writer/cyclist mind can come up with- as for the photo well just have who ever takes it "cut your head off" as in only get you from the brow down, then your not "dressing up"and they don't have to get bent out shape about the lack of helmet. Seriously I am sure plenty of bicycling riders go sans helmet so don't let the photo be an obstacle to sharing your muse. And of course we'd love to see your final copy on this here blog.


    PS You get that MacBook Pro yet?

    1. Thanks, Ryan! Sound advice as always! In a way, it would be nice if Bicycling loosened up a little and devoted some space to something other than the high-end.. I really believe there is a solid market for “regular” riders like myself but lawyers and political correctness would never allow for a guy advocating helmet-less riding and stopping for a beer or three while doing it. Back when I was lucky enough to get my first guest post at Fatty's 99% of the comments were friendly and supportive(150 comments! Almost a Fatty record!) But one person just could not get over the part of my post about having a couple beers at fifty miles out. Sad. After three or four hours in the saddle a twenty or thirty minute break and a couple 24oz beers are tasty as hell, help kill the pain, and get me carbed up for the return. The buzz doesn't last long and next thing ya know, thirty miles have come and gone. And it's time for another break. All without a helmet and some of it with no hands.

      Bicycling's legal department would choke on their lunch-time martini's if they saw copy like that hit the stands.

      But I will probably submit #2 just to see what happens. I mean, that's it. Number two is 100 words. That's the whole thing. Seems weird to me. This reply to your comment is close to 300 words, and I'm not through!

      In answer to your question: No, still no Mac Pro, much to my dismay. I'm thinking about taking up a collection. Maybe if I win that contest, I can auction off the Crabon Fribe Politically Correct Wonder Bike and get a new computer, and maybe a Brooks Saddle for Little Miss Dangerous.

      And some beer.

  6. I agree with all...Submit!!
    All you have to do is, get is a stunt double to fill in on picture duties. Maybe you could find Cervelo guy to fill that role for you.

    #2 was my favorite
    A couple of years ago I got a free subscription to Bicycle. I just laughed at it reading, wondering who is this written for??
    When I was at the bike show a few weeks ago a guy handed me a couple of issues of a magazine called Bicycle Times. This was a good read because they talk about normal people and their bikes and issues we all face. like for instance what to do with a chain that you have not cleaned in six months and how to do it. plus articles and reviews of equipment a normal person can use.

    1. Yeah...Bicycle Times...I think I have run across those guys. I'll look into it. Thanks, Jim!

      I thought about the stunt double thing...I cut and pasted a shot of George Clooney on a bicycle one time...


  7. TJ,

    I'd go with the stunt double idea for the photo. I'm sure it wouldn't matter to them as long as they sell more magazines.

    Kind of a dopey assignment to limit to 100 words. Number 2 is the best shot in my opinion.

    Steve Z

  8. Thanks, Steve. Way Back When there was some kind of scandal on Oprah (her pre-lancesploitation days)she had some author on the show and forced him to confess that he didn't write the book, or that the whole book was a lie or some such crap...she made him cry. Somehow it caught my eye and I remember thinking how hilarious it would be if at the last minute the guy had jumped up and said "Hah! You self-righteous tub of lard! I'm an actor! The real guy left on a plane to Cancun three hours ago with all the money he made by tricking you into promoting his crappy book!" Then he would rip off one of those Mission Impossible masks and there would be Tom Cruise and he would start jumping up and down on the couch and laughing maniacally.

    I'll figure something out. Thanks, Steve!