Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Three Essentials

It Takes Good Gear To Do the Job Right
Here at the Trailer Park Cyclist World Headquarters and Beer Guzzlery we utilize the Quasitron 6000 steam-powered Computer Search Thing to constantly seek out all items related to Cycling and Trailer Parks and Beer. It is an exhausting job and requires a lot of coal and a lot of Shoveling of Coal and sometimes I have to get up in the middle of the night and kick the damned thing strategically to get it going again. But it is Worth the Effort, because every so often the Ol' Quaz spits out a gem like this one:

Dateline Hollywood, CA
...Rich Movie Guy Cracks Noggin in Bicycle Accident, Lives, Gives Away Fortune, Sells Mansion, Moves Into Trailer Park...

(The Quasitron 6000 is programmed to print my notifications in simple language that even I can understand before the first cup of coffee.)

Intrigued, I threw an extra shovel-load of  coals into the boiler.  I twisted three creaking  knobs fully open, I tapped the crusty gauges that let me know we weren't about to be Blown Asunder and then  I yanked on  the appropriate ropes and chains that would  guide the Quasitron 6000 and the Trailer Park Cyclist deeper into this fascinating story...

Three Essentials for a Movie
Tom Shadyac, a highly successful Hollywood writer and director, is also a cyclist and something of a hippie, as near as I can tell. But this is a kick-ass guy: his movies include most of Jim Carrey's big hits like "Ace Ventura" and "Liar Liar".  ( I never saw those movies but I suspect Money Got Made). 

And One Keeper
But Listen:  Tom also  wrote and directed “Dragonfly” with Kevin Kostner. Now I have seen that movie:  in fact,  I've seen it  a couple of times.   “Dragonfly"   the Movie doesn't have any Jokes or Karate or Gratuitous Nudity, (the Three Essentials)  but it is, according to the TPC , A Reasonably Good Motion Picture.  (RGMP).

Kicked By A Mule
After a near-fatal accident while riding his bicycle in Virginia, Tom went through a long period of Concussion Stuff and Soul Searching and ultimately decided Materialism and Gratuitous Nudity weren't the most important things in life and did that whole Dumping of his Wealth Thing and really, truly moved into a Trailer Park.

 In Malibu. 

 Yeah, I know. Well, give the guy some credit, which he may need right about now. A trailer park is a trailer park. But still...Malibu? I had no idea there were trailer parks in Malibu.

You can put Good Odds on the Ol' TPC looking into that subject at a later date.

Trailer Park Tips
I saw a video of Tom showing his Trailer to Oprah or Diane Sawyer or Geraldo or one of those guys. It's a Pretty Nice Trailer and I think I noticed a Porsche in the driveway.  But hey:  it looked like an old Porsche.  Hell,  Jungle Jim has an old BMW and Coyote has a pretty cool old Volvo,  so at least Tom Is Trying. (A funny side note is that in the video I spotted a telescope in the living room of his trailer. Like I said, Tom is a kick-ass guy. It didn't take him long to figure out the value of Amplified Vision in a trailer park. I personally use an antique Keuffler&Esser builder's transit.)

Get to the Point
What's The Point, you ask? Even if you didn't ask, I'll explain.

The Meaning of Life
Tom's story is Newsworthy. Why? Because there seems an inherent Yearning In the Heart of Everyone for things to be less crazy, less strident, less pressurized, less...well Just Less. With you guys, I realize I am Preaching to the Choir. By your very attendance (roll call) here at the Park it is fairly safe to assume that the first thing on your mind in the morning is not how to get a bigger piece of Some Other Guy's Pie. (Actually, a Slice of  Pie sounds pretty good right about now. I just got in from a Forty-Miler.)  But  by your attendance here I know you already understand about the Quiet Moments Alone Out There on your bike and the fun times going Fast Downhill when you have to look around to make sure no one is watching when you sing out “Wheee!” and Laugh Out Loud like a kid.

But that's just us.

It's All About Me ( I Wish)
Back when the TPC was a Respectable Person I followed the path of Avaricious Intent. Not because I was money hungry,  (luckily I have never been afflicted with that sad disease).  Instead, by being Good Enough At What I Did, various people wanted me to do More Of It. That meant I  needed help, and that Help would have to be paid. Suddenly, there appeared around me many other people I did not want to know but they also had to be paid. Think Insurance Companies, the State, the Fed, Accountants, Equipment Suppliers, on and on.  And Lawyers.  Always with the Lawyers.  What the hell  lawyers have to do with pounding nails I'll never understand,  but they got in there.

The more pressure that was put on me  to Produce the less I found myself even so much as thinking 'Wheee!” and the only time I laughed out loud was in a saloon and even then I knew I would have to work harder later to make up for the fun I was having now.

And nowhere in that tale resides A Bicycle or A Ride Thereupon.

Tom's New Flick
Tom Shadyac just made a new movie called “I Am” which is more or less about his experience and transformation. I probably won't watch it because I already live in a Trailer Park and know How to be Poor just fine but some of you guys may want to check it out just in case.  I doubt it will have any of the Three Essentials but you never know.

Shut Up and Listen, Oprah
Here's what Tom figured out and told Oprah,  who I don't think is a cyclist:

1. It is scientifically proven that the entire human race is connected
2. It is human nature to be cooperative rather than competitive.
3. If you don't do what your heart wants you to do and follow your passion, it will destroy you.

Maybe THAT is the Three Essentials

Enter the Dragon 
The Blonde, even though we no longer live in the same trailer, still comes by to bring me food or to visit Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog. I was telling her about this story.  "Dragonfly"  is her favorite movie.

I don't get it,” she said. “What does living in a trailer prove? Why would he give away all his money? Who did he give it to?” Very practical questions from a woman who thinks, practically.

I don't know,” I said. “I don't know. I just know how things seem easier and better, though, now that I don't have that big machine to run anymore.”

Oh, I know,” she said. “You always said you felt like you were running down the railroad tracks with a train behind you.”

And that I would be OK as long as I kept running, but if I stopped...”

I know, Honey, and you're a lot more fun to be around these days, but still, he gave away all his money? He must have got hit on the head pretty hard.”

Sometimes that's what it takes, I guess,”  I said.   The Blonde took Miss Daisy off for a bath and I cracked open a beer and went over to Me Darlin' Little Schwinn where she was resting in The Stand after our quick Forty Miler of the Morning.

 “What do you think, Darlin'?” I asked the bike. (Yes, I talk to my bike. Don't you?)

She thinks that before you give away all your money she still needs a new seat.  Some chain oil and some new bar tape wouldn't be bad either.

“Shut up,  Voice,"  I said.   "Nobody asked you.   But while you're here, what do you think?"

You already know what I think. You're doin' all right.

Yeah,  man. 

Tom Shadyac,  Filmmaker and Trailer Park Cyclist Trainee

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Spiritual Retreat

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Visitor From the High Country

As some of you may have guessed, the TPC ain't always a Socially Acceptable Animal. And I don't mean just in High Society; there's plenty of High People all over the place here at the Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Animal Preserve. What I mean is, I Ride Alone. Not because I smell bad (which is possible) but because I am the Only Roadie I Know. I see Group Rides out there and I have been known to stalk the occasional Stray Phred, but in My Isolated Reality it is Me My Ownself, pedaling away, Desperately Seeking Refuge in the solace of Endorphin Rushes and Bunny Hops Over Road Kill and the certainty that if I ride long enough and hard enough I will receive an Epiphany of Enlightenment and Revelation that will transport my Long -Tortured Soul to the High Country of the Sweet Climbs and New Blacktop that is the Valhalla of We the Two-Wheeled Seekers.

Hold on a second. I need to re-read that opening paragraph.


Who's On First?
I wish I could write like that. Wait. I just did. But not really. Like the Best Ride You Ever Took, Telling the Truth is just a thing I Do In Passing, on the way to getting to the other kind of Rush I get by Riding Hard and Fast. I have the honor of Spilling the Beans here on this Blog about the Dirty Little Secret of Cycling: Anybody Can Do It and it is a lot more fun than some of these guys make it look.  

You don't even have to wear a helmet if you don't want to.

Did I Just Say That Out Loud?
OK. Everyone calm down. Like Kurt Cobain said: I Swear That I Don't Have A Gun.

But look how that turned out.

Today I rode with a Fellow Booger and one of those Boondock Saints you bump into when you least expect it: Karl Allen Ziegler, the Swell Guy. Here's how it went:

Karl, sent to Florida on a Top Secret Mission for the Government of Latvia, needed my services as an apparently delusional Cycling Super Hero of shabby demeanor.

No, that ain't it. Gimme a minute. Oh Yeah:

Agent KAZ of the United Underground Organization of Boogers and Hay-Bailers was sent by the Higher-Up Echelon to recruit the World Famous Trailer Park Cyclist to save the Latvian Orphans...

That may have been it but I have never (for the record) been to Latvia. I think.

Have You Any Grey Poupon?
The truth of the matter is simple: My Internet Buddy and Blogging Colleague Zig had a business run to Orlando.  He set aside a few of his highly precious hours to come by the Park for a ride. Look, I wasn't always poor, but I might as well have been. So when a dot. com industrialist like this guy pulls into the Trailer Park in his Limo to check me out and go for a ride, I Go For A Ride.

Now, it didn't start with a ride. First we ate caviar and drank champagne and I briefed Agent KAZ on the Facts of Life. Let's face it: I am, after all, the Trailer Park Cyclist, Friend of Man (and Women),  King of Beers and a Pundit of Ill Repute. The Facts of Life are, to me, just another briefing. But then things got interesting.

This Is All Top Secret
“Agent Tim Joe, sir,” said Agent KAZ, acknowledging my Senior Agent status in spite of his wealth. “There have been reports of Slow Riding and Phred Stalking coming from this sector and Snob sent me down here to sort things out and confirm that you are on the job.”

“Whatever, Ziggy. Saddle up and tuck it in and let's go for a ride. I'll brief you on my Work Thus Far; that is, if you can keep up. And for Lob's sake, if we come across any other cyclists, drop back. That $6000 piece of crabon you are riding will blow my cover if any Nu-Phreds should be out there playing hooky from their day-trading jobs.”

The Swell Guy, in spite of his initial Awkward Normality, proved to be a Good Agent.

“Yes, sir”, he said.

That was easy, said the Voice.

“Shut up, Voice,” I said. “He bought the beer.”

This All Really Happened
Now listen: Like I keep trying to tell everybody: I ain't fast, as far as I can tell. I'm a Clydesdale and a Beer Drinkin' Fool and I only ride bicycles because it is the Most Fun Thing I Do. So when one of these Really Fast Guys drop by for a ride, I usually change my underwear, Slam a Couple Beers and then go out and give them what they came for: a chance to humiliate a Poor Little Old Man (me) who can't Keep Up.

That doesn't always work out the way they planned.

But in the case of Karl Allen Zieglar, it worked out just fine. He let me set the pace, he gave me a little schooling on how to drop into a pace line, he encouraged and helped and smoothed my ride and made me glad that he was there.

We Pause For A Soliloquy 
The world can be a lonely place. How often have any of you found yourselves feeling a little alone and downtrodden in a room full of people? Well, I have and in case it happens to any of you,   Take It From Me: putting a lamp shade on your head and moon-walking over to the keg just won't get the laughs you think it will. And if it does get a lot of laughs you probably want to get out of there fast. What does this have to do with today's story? Everything, sort of. Let me explain.

Uh...well, I know there is an explanation here somewhere but I dropped it and it rolled under the refrigerator so you'll have to figure it out for yourselves.

Back To The Here and Now
Our ride was brisk and enlightening. We talked about a lot of stuff. We rode the trail of my Cervelo Guy story and down along the River. I kept hoping something spectacular would happen so he would have a Big Story to tell his coming grandchildren in his old age. And in a way it did. We were having a couple After-Cheeseburger Drinks in my trailer. The sun was glowing magically across the highway, sending just the right amount of September warmth and light into the room.  A gentle Florida sun-shower rattled the roof and  awnings and cooled and cleansed the afternoon air.

“Tim Joe,” Karl said, “This has been a great day. I really hope we can do it again sometime.”

“Oh yeah, Karl, it was great and thanks for everything. But...what if we never meet again?”

There was a moment of silence. There are very real and solid reasons why I say stuff like that. As a Senior Agent and Pundit of Ill Repute, listen up, gang: Ya Never Know. Twist the Lime and Get the Juice. Ya Really Never Know.

Here's One From the Heart and The Park
This one is for you, KAZ! I hope you will always Remember the Ride: I hope you will always remember how All our Winds were headwinds that day and how well we ignored them! I hope every ride you take (on two wheels and in your life) will be sweet and that the Wind You Ride will forever be at your back; But most of all I want to thank you for being my friend.

Agent KAZ

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Hallmark Moment

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Take This Job...

The Once And Future Has-Been (Again)
Sigh. It was bound to happen: the higher you climb, the more people there are shooting at you.

Hear my tale of woe: It's All Over! No longer am I the Head (Only) Big Man In Charge of Fix-It at the Whispering Pines Trailer Park. After days of struggle to climb to the top of the heap here at The Heap, I was shot in the foot by that most rascally of hunters: Myself.

Yea and Verily, it was Me My Ownself who perpetrated my downfall.

 In other words, I Quit.

Who Was Alzheimer Anyway?
Why, you ask? Even if you don't ask, I'll tell you. Have you ever been internally nagged by some, well, nagging feeling that something just ain't right? You know, where you find yourself buttering your toast in the morning and suddenly realize you already buttered the other side and you just put sugar and cream in your coffee only to remember that you normally drink your coffee black?

Tourette Sounds Like A Bicycle Brand
Or you notice that you are mumbling a lot and cussing unexpectedly so that your Yellow Dog hides under the Trailer and thinks that you are looking at her and thinking about dog-fur gloves in preparation for the Winter of Your Discontent, even though it is still not so Glorious Summer in a Crappy Trailer Park in Florida?

Probably not.

I realize that Both of My Readers are fabulously wealthy and only come here to see how the Bottom Third lives. But since you are here you might as well listen to my Sad Tale and then I'll say something about Two Wheeled Conveyances instead of Two-Faced Contrivances.

(Or not. Suffice to say, I am a bit off balance right now and when I am Off Balance, I Ride. Which is ironic, if you think about it.)

How It All Began
Friday night, while helping Miss Jo the New Trailer Park Manager clear out some Extra Alcohol she had laying around I wisely decided to engage in High Pressure Contract Negotiations. At that time I was President and Head (Only) Member of the Florida International Brotherhood of Trailer Fix-It Men and therefore authorized to do whatever it takes to Hammer Out a Better Deal for my Constituency (Me).

It didn't go so good.

Big Brother Is Watching
The next morning I had some vague intuition that something was wrong and I better look outside before opening the front door to let my Nervous Dog out to do her business. 


“Okay”, I think. “So far, so good.” I took the Winn-Dixie plastic grocery bag full of empty beer cans and headed for the dumpster. Somehow, an empty Tequila Bottle had got in there, also. Now where did that come from? “This ain't good,” I thought.

You worry to much, the Voice said. Then, when I got to the dumpster, I noticed Miss Jo's Brother's car was at the Office. 

Uh Oh, the Voice said.

“Shut up, Voice,” I said, probably out loud, which is always a bad sign. Miss Jo's Brother sometimes goes around collecting rent with a gun on his hip. Seriously. As crazy as I am, I could never make this stuff up.

Looks like somebody is gonna get schooled, said the Voice.

“Looks like a good day for a bicycle ride”, I said back. “And shut up, Voice.”

What a Beautiful Day! (To Cut and Run)
I walked casually (but quickly) back to my Trailer, grabbed my Long Ride Stuff and saddled up my old Schwinn Le Tour.  My LRS consists of a cheap messenger bag from Goodwill loaded with a spare tube, a patch kit, a pump and some tire irons. There is also a pressure gauge and I throw in my wallet and my cell phone and a couple bananas and some trail mix, if I have any. While I was doing this I explained to Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog that it would be a Long Day and I loved her and if anybody knocks don't answer and then I hid the house key in its conspicuous hiding place and GTF outta there.

I Am A Lion
Cowardly, you say? Perhaps. But it has long been a policy of mine to allow a Cooling Off Period between confrontations, particularly when it had mostly been me doing the confronting. Also, one of the best ways to win an argument is to not have it. Plus, it really was a great day for a ride.

Little Bites
My plan was simple. Ride as far as Daytona, take a break, and see how I felt. Seventeen easy miles. (Actually, they are all easy miles. Florida is Flat.) So I did. Sometimes, I like to take simple, Easy Rides To Nowhere. This Serendipitous Saturday would be one of them. But somewhere in that crinkled corner of my brain where the Truth (and The Voice) lives, I knew. I was going for the Long Ride. I have twice this year been thwarted in my Sunday Century efforts on the fifty miles or so to Flagler Beach, and today I was going to sneak up on it, grab a couple beers and coast home. One little bite at a time.

What is it about sneaking up on distance that works so well? Zeno the Eleatic told some kind of paradox about an Arrow In Flight. Anywhere the arrow is, within its own length, for any split moment of time, it is at rest. Cycling can be like this. There have been days when I seemingly without effort cover miles and miles of quiet wandering on my bike and find myself amazed to eventually find myself back home. Today, by carefully not planning anything special, I was Sneaking Up On a Hundred Miles.

Water, Water Everywhere
There is a long stretch of ten miles or so after Ormond By the Sea of empty road with no shoulder on the northbound lane because the Atlantic Ocean is only a few feet away. But the southbound side has a good enough bike lane on the shoulder as well as a sidewalk/bike trail. I was riding this expansion-joint-filled Sidewalk Singletrack swiftly and easily,  pushing into a mild headwind that I was hoping would hold out so I would have a sweet tailwind push for the ride back. There was a lone cyclist in front of me, far ahead. I was thirsty. Yes, I had water in my bottle. But I was thirsty, if you know what I mean.

It's Five o'Clock Somewhere
I caught up with the guy and from behind, for just an instant, I thought I had stumbled across Jimmy Buffet on a Bicycle. But no, as I pulled abreast I saw it was just another Margaritaville Dude like myself. Hey, Man, It's Florida.

Hey Brother,” I said. “They got any beer around here?” He was momentarily startled.

Uh, yeah, man, the A1A Market, about three miles up.” Three Miles? Dammit, Man, I'm thirsty!

Only one thing to do.

Thanks Bro, “ I said. “Three Miles? I can do that.” I was already riding in the drops, but I leaned over a little deeper (headwind) and Kicked It In. The Jimmy Buffet Cyclist yelled something as I took off but I couldn't hear him. It was already Mile Fifty or so and Three More Miles Before Beer seemed a Little Daunting but I learned long ago, When Daunted: Sprint.

Ocean Mist and Cheap Beer

You might want to save some gas for the return, said the Voice.

I ain't never goin' back, Voice!”   I yelled. There was a sweet little two foot Florida breaking wave over there in the Ocean on my right hand. Up here in Flagler County the ocean mist is always present and this part of the coast has some really clear turquoise water. There was Beer Ahead and I had this little piece of Florida Real Estate all to myself,  just Right Here and Now in this Perfect Split Moment of Precious Time.   

Zeno had it right: Always stay Joyously at Rest during any part of Your Flight and Never Will You Be Daunted.

All's Well That Ends Well Most of the Time
The return trip? Well, as you guys all know, the first half is the funnest. On the ride home I had that tailwind I was hoping for, for what it was worth. All the same, grinding South down US One is a Chore of a Bike Ride. But as the Man (me) said, Any Bike Ride is Better than Facing the Music. And Me and the Voice knew all too well that the Piper Awaited back at the Trailer Park and She damn well would have to be paid.

It was still a hell of a day, said the Voice.

It sure was, Buddy,” I said, “and we were looking for a job when we found this one.”

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Unemployment Line