As most of you are painfully aware, I have an annoying habit of coming over to your Blogs and typing a comment that is usually twice as long as your post and then rambling around and saying stuff that pertains to your topic in only a vague way, while managing to make myself look cooler than I am and all-wise and knowing and nothing if not verbose. It cannot be helped; I was born Excited About Life and interested in everything. While that interest here in our little clique is allegedly centered on bicycles, that is mostly a ruse. Oh, we all ride, as near as I can tell. But it ain't the only thing we do and that is how it should be.
The Secret Life Of Cycling
We also communicate and interrelate and since I started this page I have come to know, if only via the Web, a whole menagerie of new people who share my passion for cycling and we really are members of a vast Secret Society, once you think about it. Chain rings and derailleurs and headsets and carbon and lycra and wattage are our secret code and we know things denied to non-cyclists; we are familiar with the weather and we know where dogs are and we have our elite pantheon of secret gods, with names like Grant and Sheldon and Snob and yes, Lance...I may get into that in a minute but I already wrote my say onTHAT subject a while back.
We are in on a secret that should be shared by everyone but it isn't. Ours is a happy world of pedals and wheels and the sound of the traffic, the sound and smell of country lanes and the song of the surf and ours is a pretty happy world (except for the Lance part) and not all of us wear fancy clothes to go for a ride and so, in my usual errant manner I come to the subject(s) of today's post.
I have a friend and fellow pedalist and sailor who lives somewhere north of here. His name is Doug and he posts over at Life In theSlow Lane. A while back I rather imperiously demanded that he post a post and, like the true-hearted soul that he is, he complied. I was a little abashed at my forwardness but then immediately rewarded by what he had to say. Simple stuff and rather than hash it out here why don't you guys go have a look.
My other buddy Wayward Home posts even less than I do, if that is possible, but each one is a corker and his last effort will break your heart and make you grab the nearest dog, spouse, sibling or friend and hug them and tell them how much they mean to you. Seriously. Do it right now.
Judi, the Mistress of Miles and Madness, is feeling her age and it makes me glad because I am WAY older than her and half as strong, but always glad to hear that I ain't the only one feeling the good pain of our velo ventures. A thing about her is that since I started reading her stuff I have witnessed a lot of ups and downs in her life but she always comes through looking like she planned the whole thing. I know this: if I ever have to go to Hell and get back out, I would want her in my posse.
Once in a while I get in these little moods of wanting to shout out to some of my friends and readers. I remember when there weren't any and it was a cold and desolate place here at the Park. I will have to leave some of you out, because (happily) there are so many of you now that it would look like the Manhattan phone book if I list you all. OK, maybe the Paducah phone book. (I lived there once).
When I first started writing this Booger I had glorious plans to be the Voice of the Unwashed Cyclists, the Clydesdales and Athenas and homeless riders and the beginners and the mechanically challenged. I still want to do that because I myself am all those things, except an Athena, and I am only marginally homeless, but the Clyde and the mechanically challenged I am. (and unwashed I also am a lot of the time.)
Nicholas the Gypsy by Trade is living this wild life of constant beauty and bicycles. His photography and lean, sinewy posts, combined with his ever diligent search for the elusive Fat Bike Formula of Perfection, is very addictive and I warn all of you to beware: his quest is riveting and told in a style that will one day be required reading in High Schools across the planet. Or it should be. Today's post is in fact, a kind of echo of Nick's most recent publication. He is sending postcards to a long list of friends and readers and I was happy to see myself included. Postcards! That's so cool! Now I want to get a big stack of postcards and send them all over the place.
The Jackson Two
There is this brother and sister out in Texas that somehow seem to have become a kind of surrogate family to me. I don't know why. They never send me postcards. But when I first crossed their trail it was instantly as though I had known them forever. The sister part is Crystal Jackson (coolest girl name ever) and she posts as CryJack over at Fight Stupidization. Not a bicycle to be seen but we cyclists fight stupidization every day so check her out and you'll see what I mean. Her brother, Tohner Jackson, is a fellow woodwright but you can bet I never did any wood stuff like he does. He is an artist and apparently the custodian of a very old soul. Check out One Tree Woodworks and tell him I said hello.
South of the Whispering Pines is a land called Hanalea, I mean Australia and I have my friend Dee there. She is a bicycle advocate and horticulturalist and model, an epicure and who knows what else, a racing cyclist and cartographer. Cartographer. Plus she was mentioned at the Snob's, which is, well a kind of pinnacle of achievement.
“What do you do for a living?”
“I'm a cartographer.”
I think she is in her old home of Nova Scotia right now. That's right. The land of the Trailer Park Boys. Dee, if you're reading this, tell Ricky and Julian I said hello. And Bubbles, who is also a kind of cartographer.
Art VandeLay and One Scary Chick
See what I mean? Because of bicycles I know these cool-ass people. Wayward drives a locomotive, a real-life locomotive; Swampboy Steve at Hey Look At me is an architect, (as well as a trail-builder and cycling advocate) and the list goes on. Angie the Bikinator is one to keep your eye on, I am certain she will one day be a cycling journalist of note and reading about her efforts as an amateur racer always leaves me slightly exhausted.
Old World Craftsman
There is a place to go when it is time to work on your bicycle, or if you want to see a craftsman do wondrous things to crusty old bikes. His name is Hugh and he once was a mason by trade. If the work he does restoring old bicycles is any evidence, he must have been a hell of a builder. He meticulously takes apart and rebuilds bicycles that were fairly run-of-the-mill before he got hold of them, but after he puts the Hugh wang-dang-doodle on them they are two wheeled works of art. You won't believe your eyes but what makes his place special is his friendly, down home writing style. Go there and read about changing out a head set or bottom bracket or wet sanding a frame and you will leave with a warm feeling that as long as we have guys like Hugh, everything will be OK.
The Land That Time Forgot
As soon as you leave Hugh's it is a natural thing to stop by Cameron's Old Ten Speed Gallery. That's where I go hang out with my fellow fans of the Old School and really, after a visit there you will wonder why anyone would ever buy a new bicycle, when there is so much excellence, beauty and grace in all things old.
I realize that it wasn't that long ago that I wrote a similar post, extolling the virtues of my friends. Please bear with me. While I have a knack for spinning a yarn and sometimes making you smile, I have a mandate from myself to make damn sure that those around me know that they count and are appreciated.
Meanwhile, Back In ManhattanHere's another one: His name is George and he seems to be tackling two worthy challenges at once: Style and cycling. George Hahn is a city boy, as are many of my friends. But he is, without a doubt, one Sharp Dressed Man. He has recently signed on as a cycling writer and while I don't know if it will work out for him, it will not be for lack of support from the Whispering Pines. My own "style" has been cause for concern in recent years and if you guys go by and give him an encouraging word it will be appreciated, I am sure. In particular, read his tribute to his father. Any writer this straight up and honest is worth watching.
"Every Body Say Hey! Put Your Hands Up and Say Yeah, Yeah Yeah!" (john lennon, et al)
All of you. My soul-brother KAZ, Roadie Ryan, Bill Hopp the Anonymous Hoosier, Jason in Colorado, Jim Bangs, Jonathan, my other brother Matt in my old stomping grounds in California, Dan in Las Vegas, The noble Bloke on a Bike, Brian the Boss in Old Virginia, all of you, on and on...
Uncle Ed Is Watching
When my Uncle Ed Comstock passed away in 1970 the funeral procession was unexpectedly long; so long that police had to come work traffic and the crowd at the cemetery was huge. People came from all over the country to attend. There was not a dry eye anywhere and the mayor and some other politician made comments and it took two preachers to get him in the ground. Who was this dignitary? He was a shoe salesman. He sold shoes for forty years at a little store in a small town in southern Indiana. But every person who got fitted for shoes by my Uncle Ed walked out of that store with a smile on their face and feeling better about themselves and never even thought of going anywhere else for their next pair of shoes. I'm pretty sure that some people got shoes they did not need just to get another dose of Ed Comstock.
He is looking over my shoulder as I type this and I hope I did it right.
Yer pal, tj
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Feel-Good Factory