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


  1. YAY!!!!!!! Spills and nettles aside, good for you! Do tell about the new steed sometime, though! So welcome to read our post again.


  2. How great to see a new piece of writing from my favorite! Tim Joe, how are you? A new bike? Do tell! My heart is smiling today thanks to your turns of phrase.

  3. Thanks gang! If you click on the (slightly) bold words in the post it leads to links. In the paragraph "tired superman" if you click on "my new bicycle" you'll be directed to my brother Roadie Ryan's blog "Ryan's Rebuilds"

    There you will find the telling of the new bike.

    And yeah...I'm back. Thanks for the welcome. It may only be the internet, but I have missed every single one of you. I got a lot on my mind and in this absolutely delightful election year I'm gonna have to cut loose a little. Stick around!

  4. And here I thought you were out riding fences... glad to see you back riding and writing. Looking forward to some more posts and your single ride has about quadrupled my ride time for the last year.

  5. I knew either you or Bangs would catch the Eagles reference. The not-riding thing is murder after riding everyday and all the timeand yet ya gotta work...

    But ya gotta ride, too! My head hurts...


  6. Holy cats, TJ is BACK!!! Glad to hear you finally got back on a bike (and a new one at that!)...such a long absence would be tantamount to murder IMO (murder of your butt anyway)! I ride w/ my Garmin 705 anytime I even THINK I might need's saved my bacon more than a few times when I got really lost...just touch a button and you have the map-screen showing where you've been, and getting back to your start is easy-peasy after that! I've touched those dang stinging nettles a few times, wow are those things EVIL! Tough call for me if I'd rather have those or poison oak...nettles typically only last a day or so, where-as the PO sticks w/ me for about 2 weeks typically.

    Anyway, glad you made it safe and mostly sound back to the hotel...riding in traffic w/ no lights is very scary stuff...hell, riding anywhere in Florida traffic is very scary stuff to me (only ever ridden in the Cocoa Beach area out there, seems to me a cyclist has about the same life-span as a WWII B17 tail-gunner...which isn't very long).

    1. My uncle Sonny Comstock was a tail-gunner in the Big One and came out of it completely bald from the leather helmet liner and the stress. He always said the worst combat was the best because it made you forget how cold it was out in that turrent...

      That ride last sunday evening was just the kick in the butt I needed to get the blog fired back up. I'll get in at lest a couple a month. Blogs, that is...I'm riding every day now.

      But let me tell you...the sore butt was the least of it, Matt. I'm weak as hell on a bike now. It's embarrassing. This morning, in a heavy fog/predawn mist I was sitting at a light in my van when an old dude (older than me even) went cutting by in front of me in the bike lane. He was going so fast I looked for an electric ssist but no...he was just a strong-ass old man on a bike.

      It made me tired just to watch him...

      A cross country tour is the only solution, I think.



    2. Your traffic light story gives me hope and made me think of this T-Shirt

    3. Holy Cow Ryan! Those could be the TPC t-shirts!

  7. How do you do it mate? A classic tale off the couch!

    The ride to work and home is entertaining here in the great Emerald City. Avoiding death by drexters (aka driving texters) and chatting with meth addicts about their where they "bought" their $4500 custom Rodriguez Bicycles always keeps things real. The truth is however that my new Daddy lifestyle has kept me pretty close to the Front Door for the past 7 months and the adventures are happening more by foot these days.

    I am inspired though TJC and appreciate your contributions to the interwebs...seriously man it is good to read a piece from the TPC.



    1. Matt, so many things get between the life we want and the way things work out...I mean, it's enough to drive a brother wild. Me, I mostly want to have a lot of quiet time and bird noise and those moments where I am glad to be here. And I get that "gratitude" and "enjoying the moment" are keys to some kind of spiritual freedom but fuck, man, I make a living building fast food restaurants! And I'm not even the big dog, although lately I am a little bit bigger dog.

      When I started this Booger I was absolutely poor. Then , due to getting behind on my trailer rent, I got a chance to not be homeless by working on the really terrible, thirty year old trailers here at the Pines. It was soul-killing but I only worked four or six hours a day and rode my bicycle always (no car) and seldom saw a week with less than a hundred miles. Usually more., the hell with it. I'm whining. "Life ain't that bad when you're happy with what you have"...

      I'll shut up and type this all up as a post. Meanwhile, thanks for the kind words and remember, no matter how far you roam and whatever adventures you get into, the front door of Home will always be the most welcome sight in your life.

      Cherish these home times, lad, for they are fleeting and too soon gone.

      yer pal, tj

    2. And cherish those times with the wee little ones, don't get me wrong every stage has its good and wonderful points but one moment your giving them rides on your shoulders and then you blink your eyes and their 13

    3. So right Ryan, blink your eyes and out the door they go and are busy making more contributions to the betterment of the world than I will ever do. Cat's in the Cradle my friend

  8. Good to have you back for a visit.

  9. Maybe with an appearance by TJC I can be inspired to contribute something on my blog. I am sure I do not have to preach at you but my thoughts are, what the hell is so important going on with my day to day routine that is blog worthy. I get in these ruts of, days blend to days, ground hog style. Especially when Basketball ends, but is still winter here on the mountain. I have some thoughts tj on many things that I want to share somewhere, somehow. My avocation of Coaching, my real job, 30 years walking in that same door, jesus, what bikes and that lifestyle means to me. I probably do not have the skill set to get thoughts out of my head and onto paper or screen such as it is. My blog might be the place to start again....or, I'll just post up some cycling pictures!!
    Good to hear from the Park and your thoughts.

  10. Jim the funny thing is I like reading my own stuff years down the road. I always kept a journal and when I started the Trailer Park Cyclist blog (2011!) initially I just polished up my journal entries and published them.

    Then my blog gained a small popularity and I quit keeping the journal, the blog itself became the journal and THEN, when I quit blogging, there was no blog and no journal...then, in the last couple weeks I started re-reading the old posts and more than once literally found myself thinking "damn! I wish I could write like that!"

    And I CAN write like that. Its me!

    So yeah, post up! Do it for yourself, for your grandkids and their grandkids. I am. Wouldn't you like to be able to read the diary or journal of YOUR grandparents, or THEIR grandparents? How cool would that be? So, by doing our booger thing, we are being cool. VERY cool.

    See what I did there? cue fiendish laughter...


  11. Welcome back. You've been missed,TPC!

  12. Thanks, Miss! I read every post you put up. Your rides are becoming probably worthy of a larger audience. I think I said that before...Bicycle Times is desperate for copy...

    1. Hey Dude you gotta share links to those cool bike blogs your finding out there!

  13. TJ! I just dropped in here to see if anything was happening Pretty happy you've started back up, really hope you keep it up. A couple of posts a month would be enough to tide me over :)

  14. Wow. Welcome back, TJ.

    Glad you took a moment away from the overwhelming responsibility of being competent and got a new bike. Even better that you remember how to explore.

    Great to read your stuff, as usual. Hope you return to semi-regular blogging soon, and regular riding sooner.

    Couple of times I thought I'd send you a message, but somehow your email address is no longer in my system.

    Keep on keepin'on bud.

    Steve Z