Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jungle Jim

Lookin' Out the Back Door
In the Wild and Wacky World of Cycling, You Never Know.  Directly behind my trailer here at the Whispering Pines Trailer Park lives my neighbor and friend Jungle Jim. We call him Jungle Jim because he is the very epitome of the Vietnam Vet: A friendly-surly attitude,  long gray pony tail and you don't have to talk to him very long before you hear about the six months he spent in a Rice Paddy Over There. But he is mellow about the experience: if he ever killed anybody he hasn't mentioned it and he also lived in San Pedro, CA on an old fishing boat for a few years and those stories also color his background;  so it all homogenizes into a pretty easy listening experience. As a fellow Veteran from Back In the Day he and I like to laugh about how all the other Vets here at the Park seem to have been Special Forces This or Black Ops That when the truth of the matter is the Real Killers never tell you.

But Get This
But the fun part of the Jungle Jim narrative is that he also was a bike mechanic in Long Beach in the Seventies and to this day still Rides Out every morning sporting full Campy Kit, including the little Italian cap. The first time I saw him go by my Window On the Highway I just caught a glimpse. I said something about it to him later but at that point we were not yet friends; at that point he still regarded me in that guarded manner these guys have but once he found out I was a vet also he loosened up a little and now I like to think that we are buddies.  Being buddies with one of these guys means something.  It ain't all talk.

Campy, Triumph and BMW  Oh MY!
Listen to this: Jim rides a Seventies Raleigh Professional with Full Real Deal Campagnolo Everything. He takes it all apart and puts it all back together again about once a month and here this guy is living literally in my back yard. Now, this is a Bicycle Blog but I feel I have to mention that he also has a 1968 Triumph 650 motorcycle that gets the same treatment whether it needs it or not. And, oh yeah: A 1967 BMW turbo-charged automobile totally hand built, burnished and lovingly hand painted by the very same Jungle Jim. Not to mention his everyday vehicle: a 1973 VW Bus, the Camper version that he has taken apart, put back together “the Right Way”, as he puts it. He has even rebuilt the stove and refrigerator with stainless parts and improvements that leave me nodding my head as though I understand but really, I am, actually, just: impressed.

And Yet...
So as I fumble my way through the Journey of Enlightenment that is my Road to the Way Of the Bicycle, here I have an Old Hand living nearby.  And while I am always in search of a new Bicycle Guru,  my friend Jim is on a different trip.  He has Jim Stuff to do and does it just fine without my help.  Which is as it should be.

Me,  I'm on my own trip,  too.  Riding my bike and fixing crappy trailers and trying to think up fun and interesting stuff to spread around on here like fertilizer on a rice paddy.

But Why Listen To This Coon Dog?
What am I saying? I have no idea. These Yuengling Black & Tans and these shots of Captain Morgan's are doing their job quite efficiently. But I'm kidding. Not about the boozing...that is actually happening. What I mean is, and I think this is important: Without the stumbling and fumbling through the Bicycle Experience half the fun is lost. Bicycle Wizards can point the way and help you through the hard spots but the Journey of the Way of the Bicycle is a Real Blast that must be struggled through to reap the rewards.

I know that for Me My Ownself I wouldn't have it any other way

Meanwhile, Back At the Trailer Park...
So: What's happening in the Park? Glad I asked. The Blonde In Residence (You thought I lived alone, didn't you?) just brought in a Pit Bull pup yesterday, “To see what you thought.”

Have you ever seen an eight-week-old pit bull pup? That Dang Blonde-Headed Girl knew what would happen and as I type this muddled entry I am additionally challenged by the not-asked-for-assistance of the New Dog:  Toby, who sits here on my lap  trying to help me type while at the same time licking my face for stray drops of Yuengling.

Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog is not pleased.

Life Ain't So Bad When You're  Happy With What You Have.

 Ride strong, Brothers and Sisters!  Have a Cold One on the TPC,  Raise a glass to Jungle Jim and all the other Vets who Do Whatever They Do Over There so we can Stay Free to do whatever we do over here.  Hug your Family, Kiss your Dog, or, uh, well, you get the picture.  Cheers!

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Home For Old Veterans


  1. "Way of the Bicycle is a Real Blast that must be struggled through to reap the rewards" Ain't that the truth. Nothing like bearing down on a reverse threaded pedal or bottom bracket cup in brute force mode trying to put it on CLOCKWISE wondering why this $%^(*ing piece of *&^% won't go on! to make you learn the lesson -Hey Genius it goes on counter freakin' clockwise....uh nice job stripping the threads though.

    A sincere thank you Vets, consider a glass of fine North West Micro brew raised in your honor this evening.