Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Salvation and the Curse



Back In the Saddle
Yeah, I'm back at work and what a strange trip it is. Having gradually realized (as I am wont to do) that my life was suffering from some kind of self-induced entropy; and further realizing that the end was near (in whatever convoluted and agonizing form it chose to take) I called an old colleague/competitor and basically begged for a job. The begging part was easy: my stalwart son Beauregard (recently returned from California) had already landed work with my old friend Jack Jackson and so, upon hearing that his former foe (me) was destitute and living in a trailer and spending his days wandering aimlessly around on a bicycle and bragging about it online, JJ (after he stopped laughing) called and said “Saddle up, son, we got a lot to do.”

So I did and here I am now, respectable once again and regretting it. But Mammon must be served, it is the deal we got once some smart-ass hunter figured out how to plant seeds and pen up cattle. Ever since then we have had, as a species, an abundance of everything. If it were up to me we would all be hunter-gatherers still, but no: it is the future and we gotta work for pieces of dirty green paper that god knows who has touched them and what they did without washing their hands before they handed them to me along with a receipt.

Even that ain't exactly true. I hardly handle Benjamins or Georges or Andrews; I am so respectable now that I have a plastic card that takes the place of the paper and all I do is swipe it (more times a day than I like to admit) punch in some numbers and the smiling person behind the counter says “Thank you” and hands me a receipt (did she wash her hands recently?) and I take my beer and my tequila and mosey back out to the bike. It is all...well...

The Once and Future Thing
I don't like it. I don't mind work; in fact I like it. But something is wrong. It smells funny. After a long, long period of inactivity (during which I was plenty active) here I am trading the precious moments of life I have left for a chance to spin the very wheels that are trampling our hearts and souls and also killing our planet. We're doing it wrong, folks, and we all know it. That's the big fucking lie we all live with. We are all so busy being busy that we don't even know who we are or where we are; spinning and spinning and spinning...

Or not. I'm not trained in this kind of thing, this deep (for me) thinking. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't at least try to say what I'm feeling. It smells funny but I'll do it, this working, I'll do it and like it. But I know better. I know what it is like to be without ambition or desire and to wander aimlessly about on my bicycle. But even THAT simple machine and pastime requires care and parts and so, somehow, I must do whatever it takes...including a lot of whining.


Voice? Hello...?
The Voice abandoned me the day the work started, too. Nobody to talk to now but my co-workers who all seem to find me odd, somehow; too old and what's with the bicycle thing? They are all about big trucks and mileage and other things I don't understand. I think they learn a lot of what they know about by watching television, which I refuse to do. I love them though, mostly; and it is important to remember that I was once a member of their tribe. But a thing happened to me. A thing happened and I caught a glimpse of the truth and I know it now and never again will I be a member; there is no tribe now for me and I will always be grateful for my transmutation and yet: lonely, also.


Paleo Tim Joe
But loneliness is the hunter-gatherer's curse; it is the salvation and the curse of the heart of the hunter and I'll take it. Besides, the other morning at pre-dawn I was out in the vast parking lot of the motel where the crew is bivouacked doing VERY fast laps on Little Miss Dangerous, leaning into the curves on some new tires (I have a job) and pedaling through the turns hard and quick; I know that bicycle, that Schwinn, and she knows me. I know just how hard I can push through a turn and not get a pedal strike, I know exactly how to pause my pedals when the lean is too much and I know just how to get the attention of a droopy-sleepy construction crew departing their rooms for another day; coffees in hand and yawns and stretches and what the hell was that! whizzing by...

That, boys, was the Trailer Park Cyclist: riding old steel and a hunter-gatherer, Paleo-fed and alone; hungry all the time, a seeker of knowledge and the King of Beers. Watch out! Here he comes again!

Yer pal, tj

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Stopover

August 28, 2013

33 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Oh, I will, Marsha, you can count on that.

      tj

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  2. I hear ya.
    To pick up on one tiny piece: TV. I've watched nothing but kids shows since my boy was born about 15 months ago. It really gives your mind space to wander, and removes you from a lot of the pointless jabberings of friends and co-workers.
    Maybe I'm just getting old, but not much of that stuff concerns me anymore, the things people talk about and worry about.

    I agree, we all know we're doing it wrong, us humans. But how to step back and extricate yourself from life, that's the one that gets me. My boy needs milk and a roof over his head, and it's my job to get that stuff...

    Keep on truckin', Tim Joe.

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    1. Rugrats was my favorite. Does that show still exist? Jonathan, my post was not meant to denigrate the working class hero, nor did I mean that one should abandon his women and children and pedal off to some distant mountaintop. It is important to remember that I am old and past the responsibilities of nurturing a family. When my son Beau was 15 months old, (25 years ago) I had to briefly give up beer to buy formula. Similac, I think it was. I have never quite got over that period of beer-lessness and I still bring it up once in awhile. He finally started buying me six packs every so often and I am beginning to forgive him.

      The Machine exists, it is the way it is and I have no viable solution, just complaints and a certainty that it will, ultimately be a self-correcting problem once Mother Earth has had all she can take. It might not be a very happy thing for the humans, though, when the payback finally comes.

      Does your son have a bicycle yet?

      tj

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    2. I understand where you're coming from: it's more that the simple roaming life has always been one I aspire to but never kept up for more than a couple of months in my 20's...
      He doesn't have a bicycle yet: I have a dutch bakfiets I can carry him around in, and he'll be getting a balance bike at Christmas, when he's 18 months old or so. He's pretty coordinated so far, running everywhere and climbing stairs, so I'm hopeful of him getting the hang of bikes nice and early.

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  3. Hear,Hear

    I suppose keeping the wolves away from the door is what we have done since the dawn of time (sabertooth tigers) and such. Although the wolves that plague our souls now are the ramifications of our over industrialization. We all worry about the electric bill when we should worry about our souls. We have all designed our lives to be busy,busy,busy as if that is some sort of achievement.

    Yet, we all hammer on don't we I wish I could ramble on more but its time for me to beat some wolves away.

    Maybe the answer we seek resides in the silence between the hammer strikes however short that it may be.


    T.S.J-

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    1. Tohner! I would feel better fending off tigers and picking berries and chasing down antelopes and such, but that kind of gig is scarce these days...but it reflects what I'm thinking. As carpenters, we do have it kinda good...we get to wear tool pouches filled with things that bludgeon and cut and measure. It is close to the primitive, in a way and probably why I ended up doing it for over forty years. That and the magic of standing on a wall at sunrise, strapped and ready, listening for the distant sound of the crane on it's way to swing and set sixty or a hundred trusses, and the taste of the ice water in the five gallon jug when you are through and it is ninety degrees out there and you know you did it, you got the job done...

      tj

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  4. TJ,

    Yeah, it can suck to play the game - especially, I'd imagine, after a good period of opting out, sitting back and observing. But even those living light need - well, food & inner tubes. Next thing you know that consumer urge surfaces (damn, got enough to get me a new bike...) So we step up to the plate, squint manfully into the sun and play the game.

    The thing is that we're raised to be a part of this system. You don't learn how to raise your own food in school - you learn how to be an accountant or something so you can buy food. And once you're on the team roster it's practically impossible to get off and go back to playing in the woods. And it's hard to get unmarried, un-have the kids, and take up that hermit lifestyle that seems so real and close to the bone.

    Good to hear your boy is around now.

    Steve Z

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    1. All correct, Swampboy, all correct. I now have a smart phone and can't imagine how I lived without one. It eats $60 per month. I've been buying tools and also spending quite a bit paying back rent and paying close friends who were generous in my down time. I'm immersed in the cycle again and it causes me a bit of dismay.

      But I'm not a bum anymore (for now) and yeah, I'm shopping for a 29er. Or that new Surly ECR.

      Sometimes I fear hypocrisy is one of my strong points.

      tj

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  5. TJ,

    We all have to be a part of the system in some way. Its how immersed in it that we have control of. I can only imagine the satisfaction of building with your hands.

    I can picture you cruising around that lot in the early morning light. That must have been awesome!

    Keep those pedals turning and keep your perspective!

    Dan

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    1. Under current conditions, I take my rides wherever I can, Daniel. Thanks!

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  6. Love this post.

    I find myself wanting to withdraw and then realize that I just can't... However! Our 5th grade son has decided that he wants to ride his bike more this year and I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

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    1. It makes me happy, too, Sara. I think all of us dream of somehow escaping from the way things are...but very few do. Myself included, it now appears. But I will continue to focus on the Way of the Bicycle, keep my load as light as possible and stick around looking for alternatives.

      Saving money so I don't have to stay out year-round is the place to start, I think...

      tj

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  7. Funny I was thinking earlier about selling the used car I bought (and have almost paid for) last year. I was thinking I would pay off some debts and have $80 extra a month not paying insurance and then I realized I need to take my girl to Gymnastics once a week (not bike-able unfortunately) and if I used a car share service I would be paying about....$80 a month. Sometimes living simple is hard. Your post reminds of an excellent called "Your Money or Your Life" that sums things up as "we trade our life (Time/energy) for money" I really need to dust that book off and read it again.

    Glad to hear your solvent if solitary and that you are whipping crit laps in the parking lot, look forward to hearing more about the 29er/Surly -have you considered a Karate Monkey?

    Your Pal Roadie Ryan

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    1. Roadie, I could do a full Blog post about my evolution as a cyclist and it would be pretty odd, all things considered. A lot of it takes place in fantasy-land, of course, looking at bicycles I can't afford (yet) and dreaming of rides I may never take. But one of the sweet points of working for my old colleague Jack is his work is continuous and pretty steady so if I save money I can take off for a month at a time and go riding, then plug back in to his machine and crank up some more bucks.

      I have been making it for a month now without buying a truck, but it is costing me a lot of money to pay co-workers to come pick me and my tools up and take me wherever the job is. Once there it is OK, I ride my bike or get a ride from the motel
      to the job. Renting a truck is a possibility, as is U-Haul, but both options are costly, also. I've spent over $500 on gasoline in the last month, and I don't even own a car!

      I'm still working out the process, obviously.

      The Karate Monkey was my first fantasy bike, but the influence of Gypsy Nick and Cass Gilbert and Joe Cruz is making me seek dirt and get as far from the road as I can. And yet...flying along on back-roads on a pair of drop bars with my head in the clouds...it's a quagmire of desire, to be certain.

      Then there's the Divide...
      tj

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    2. Brother it sounds like it would be cheaper for you to pay for rides in Six packs instead of Gas ;-). I think the Monkey would be a great candidate as an "all rounder" One set of sturdy off road set with some 2.5" meaty 29er tires and another set of 32 spoke 700c rims with some 32mm panaracers for riding the roads. Heck I have even seen some articles about running brake and gear cables that somehow detach so you can swap handlebars with ease.... but any of the bikes you mention would be awesome. I look forward to more word of Tim Joe's Bicycle Acquisition Decision And Serialized Story 29er (AKA BAD-ASS).

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  8. Thumbs up for the ECR... but then again, I would say that...

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    1. Cass! I was just talking about you! I really enjoyed your last post at While Out Riding.

      I would love to hear some more of your thoughts on the ECR. Didn't you have a Krampus for testing? Reading about all the carrying you were doing in the mountains makes me wonder if weight might not be a significant factor...I believe that ECR tops thirty pounds before luggage...but what a fun ride!

      tj

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  9. TJ,
    I'm sorry sir, but you are a member of a tribe; actually, the leader of one right at this old blog. And we love you for it!

    I think you're doing the right thing because I always feel like the end justifies the means and if it means you get new tires, and may a shiny new 29ER, then why not? You earned it amigo!

    My son turns 30 next week and I'm proud to say that his various parents are pitching in to purchase a bike workstand to better handle his herd of 2 wheeled steeds. Papa is very proud of him! And his son, my grandson, turns 1 in a few weeks. Guess who is getting his first bike from Gramps?

    Stay well and keep turning the pedals, my friend! And keep the missives coming, too!

    Brian in VA

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    1. As I was typing this post I was thinking that, yeah, you guys are a tribe I am happy to belong to. The world of cycling is so diverse and vast that there are many tribes there, I think, but here at the Park I feel like we have a pretty groovy crew.

      I didn't realize that you had a cycling son with a bunch of bikes...maybe the subject of a post, Brian? With pictures, maybe? I don't know what's wrong with me...I can't stop looking at pictures of bicycles on the internet. Or thinking about bicycles or riding them...

      tj

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  10. "Then there's the Divide"

    I know it is crazy but about half of the reason I acquired my 29'er is this weird back burner flame burning for a Divide trip. Now, it could be my rare chance to meet the TP cyclist face to face.....a couple of old guys wrestling bears on the Divide!!

    Except for those peculiar few that say they would return to their jobs even if they won the lottery......almost everybody harbors a desire to rise above the have-to-be-there workaday lifestyle. I am with you that I don't mind the work part of work, it is the required day in and day out attendance factor that grinds on me. Your post here keeps me thinking (your ultimate purpose???) on just what is the meaning of life and a man's work that he chooses to do. I don't really have expensive hobbies or tastes. My work to keep the balls juggled up in the air is all about the family I had a hand in creating and raising. Those checks I keep sending CSU could keep me in bikes,gear,and beer for a long time. Yet,I like taking care of them and helping them move forward. Just another internal dialog/conflict I face. At some time it will all slow down; my need to contribute financially to their survival and then I can make some decisions on how to proceed.

    Hey, whatever Cass says about a bike....probably should buy it, although I see him riding Ogre all over the South American Map. Those were some fantastic pictures to look at. Check out his article on the Whiterock ride in Utah that is in this month's edition of Adventure cycling magazine. That is a beautiful ride that I really want to go for.

    Part of tj's tribe.....maybe we should get t-shirts made!!!

    Oh yeah....craziest thing I have read all week is, a man who does not even own a car spending $500 on gas.

    I have gone on here too much.
    Keep us entertained and thinking....part of your burden now!!
    Jim

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    1. Well the Ogre was my choice also, until those crafty rascals at Surly came out with the ECR. But I don't know. Cheap bastard that I am I will probably follow Gypsy's path and find some worthy used bike on Craigslist and do a buildup. With guys like Cass and Nicholas Carmen (and Roadie and Hugh) to give me advice, how can I go wrong?

      Whatever it is, it will be a 29er and Divide specific. That seems as good a target to shoot for as there is.

      As far as the work/life balance thing goes, I don't have any answers. If you can sleep at night and look yourself in the mirror in the morning, yer probably doin' it right. I have had problems with both in the past, but not now.

      The only reason there haven't been TPC t-shirts yet is the artwork. I don't have any.

      tj

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    2. IF you haven't already then fuel your Divide dreams with this set of reports from Kent's bike blog -http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/search?q=Divide

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  11. Hey man! I think it is pretty cool that we have both made his page. My traffic count is goin' crazy. I'm a bit stunned by it, to tell the truth. Thanks for noticing!

    tj

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  12. I came upon this treasure trove by way of Lloyd's Blog as well. It may have taken burning half a day to read up on past postings, but that was well worth it. Keep up the awesomeness.

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    1. Man, I now owe Lloyd big time, if I didn't already. Truth is, I was barely out of High School (in the Paleolithic era) when I first discovered Lloyd Khan. To a corn-fed hoosier boy like myself, his writing about domes and alternative building techniques and the guys (mostly in Cali) doing the work...it was my Valhalla and I never made it, quite, but I will be eternally grateful for his kindness in putting my work on his pages.

      Welcome, Gaucho! It ain't all about bicycles, here, exactly...I hope you will come back to the Park and hang with the crew.

      tj

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  13. Thanks TJ. I will saunter through and pick up all of the info on your blog since I'm looking for a new road/commuting bike. My uber-functional cargo bike (a Worksman) just isn't quite up to par for a 10-mile commute every day.

    I've only come to know Lloyd's work and writing in the last few years, so I can't claim to be a long-term believer, but I do hope to one day get a piece of land and build some small cabin upon it using my own two hands and his books as guide/inspiration. And even irrespective of his writing and lifelong body of work in the small home community, Lloyd is one bad-ass motherf'er, and I can say without exaggeration that I hope to someday be 1/10th as cool as he is.

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  14. Isn't there a tribe of the tribeless somewhere...maybe...?

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    1. I think they call it Burning Man, Anna.

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    2. Hmmm. No, that's not a tribeless tribe I would consider wanting to be part of...

      I guess I should just be more philosophic about having no tribe. (There is no tribe for me, I know it.)

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    3. The wanderers and the wayfarers, the sojourners and the sailors; these are the tribe of the fleet of foot and the light-hearted. They carry the chore of easing the burden of those bound by tribal restrictions and the work to be done and home-work...they bring tales from afar and they are always alone and yet: never alone for all the people of everywhere is their tribe and so, my dear, you are a shamanista, a brujo, a sojourner of the planet and thus a member of the Universal Tribe and you will always have a home in the hearts of those you meet along the way and they will remember you and that is your chore. So far it looks like you are doing it right.

      tj

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    4. Well, thank you, tj, I will treasure those thoughts and hold them close, for comfort, in the times when I feel slightly less than fleet of foot and light-hearted.

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