Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Or Not

The level of apathy in this town...

shouldn't be surprising, since I know I've ranted about it before.

There will not be a Segundo, at least not this year. I am as guilty as the others of lack o' enthusiasm. It's hard to create something when no one really cares. It's the true meaning of trickle-down economy.

On a brighter note, my little birthday bash at the shop was, from my perspective, actually sublime. I can never thank David and Lisette enough for all they did. And no, I really can't tell you what it feels like to be fifty. That's right; 50. L.
And the bottle of Caol Ila was over the top. Damn, I'm a sucker for an Islay malt.

Oh, and I just remembered, I've been off cigarettes for 42 weeks. I had to check the calender.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Noché de los Muertos

Last year I decided that I was going to put on an alleycat race, that it was going to be different than the usual fare, and that it was going to be fun. Noché de los Muertos was born. It was certainly different, a bit of fun, and the impetus for the creation of this very journal.
After the race was over, many of the people present spoke of putting on other, equally interesting events. There was talk of near-monthly possibilities. We all went our ways with the glow of enthusiasm, occupied barstool's as the competitors regaled each other with the blow-by-blow, and I was content to believe I would get to participate in the next fiasco.

It was never to be...

Now I find myself planning the El Segundo Noché, the first race since the last one, with excited people who say they're willing to help. What the heck, says I, it's not as off the cuff as last year. I've already begun to bug sponsors, scout possible checkpoints, and set the media airships into action. I'm also thinking of ways to keep it somewhat different, a bit esoteric, but not quite a far-gone as last year. I can disseminate clues at my leisure, without the fear of my blog address offending anyone's sensibilities.

I have several "theme" possibilities going through my head. Originally i had intended to do shrines... but there's the Victorian thing... or haunted...

haunted victorian shrines...

wanders off mumbling to self

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

La Gazza Ladra

So I finally got what I consider to be decent shots of LGL. And she was actually clean (ish).

Here's one of a little number that Mellow Velo just put together... one sexy old Peugot, kids.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

duck and cover

the soldiers of the nationalsocialisthomelandsecurity have discovered the cogs of subversion and the wheels have multiplied exponentially...
resistance is not futile, we will not be assimilated

passsed the 8-month mark

returning to the steam-tunnels...

Saturday, August 30, 2008


And I must commend Victoria Pendleton for her success. I can think of no athlete this quad who deserved it more.

the Queen...
small machines wander the halls of my reality...
heroine's on wheels...

the steam is beginning to fill the room...

only the Colonel's Seven-Jewel Rotating Cavalry can save the day...

8 months without a friggin' cigarette!
Hear me, oh doubters; I will not be assimilated!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So, if you're a bike geek you've probably seen the various glamour shots of Victoria Pendleton. If not, here's a taste...

yeah, so? a little leg?
Actually, a lot of leg; she's a multiple World Champion in track cycling, and the reigning Women's Sprint Goddess (yeah, that's an official title). She has one chance for a gold in Beijing this year, and though it may seem a bit unpatriotic of me, I hope she gets it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Le Fini (almost)

For the first time in years, I find myself glued to the tube, watching (or at the moment, listening) to the final time-trial of Le Tour. Seconds count, and I honestly believe that tomorrow's ride into Paris will be a race. The time difference is small, the key players all worthy. When was the last time they actually raced to the Arc?
The doper's have been caught, and if the Cobra ever joins the peloton again, he will probably be nudged over a guard rail. How many people did he put out of work?
I digress... cycling is exciting, and the nay-sayers can ride without a saddle for all I care. I'm glad I watched Le Tour this year.

Oh yes... 7 months without a cigarette today!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

That race...

Yes, like many of us, I'm lost in it. How can I not be? It's the epic battle, the ultimate in physical output, and it's exciting again. Who are these men winning stages? They're young, different, and their attitudes are fresh, angry, resolute.
Watching Ricardo Ricco climb today was as exciting as any stage I've seen in years. The amount of time he devoured was amazing.

I've also been spending a lot of time on roller skates, but that's another story...

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Increased speed, stronger muscles, better control.
These are all subjective neurons in a grander, more realistic scheme. What feels amazing to the person experiencing it may not reflect, in any way, shape, or form, the comparison to a baseline of other humans. You can feel like you're smoking the streets with your flash, your turns so low the pedals are saying the word "strike," but when another rider cruises past you like he isn't worried if the last Times has sold or not, your reference is shattered, as is your stride, and your fantasy.
It's good that we can be superheroes in our heads, just as it is good that mothers have perfect love of their children. It keeps more of us alive.

While I'm here; go check out Swrve clothing. I met the powers that be, and got to fondle the samples. It's nice stuff, made in the States, with a good bit o' style, and a lot of "made to ride in." I know I'm wanting some.

drumroll please... Thursday will be 6 months to the day, while Wednesday is 26 weeks. Six of one, half dozen of the other? No Cigs!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

5 does not equal 168

I've done some rides since I quit smoking, but I've done them solo, with no one to pace, to judge, to "set an example." Tonight I realized how painful keeping up can be. Everyone said, "no problem, there's a slow guy with us. We'll be rolling mellow."
Yeah, right, bite me. Mellow is a shop, not a style of riding. At least not where my lungs are concerned.
So I was off the back, pushing climbs that made me feel like I was sucking a cigarette as I went. But I kept going. It wasn't a long ride, it certainly wasn't anything major for the boys. Hell, it was the second ride of the day for some. But they reeled me in, waited at the junctions, and gave me the option of the return. I took the "one more climb because it's more fun going down" route, and enjoyed it to no end. Pain can be fun when it's shared. Even when it's shared with others who aren't feeling, but know, your pain
No, five months of non-smoking doesn't equal fourteen years of chemical addiction, but it helps. It's a start. And if I go out and try to follow my friends again, it will be another pedal-stroke in the right direction. And another layer of crap shredded from the inside of my lungs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


A typical afternoon at Mellow Velo; drinking IPA, visits from dirt-jumping fools and a former World Champion, broken bikes to be fixed, fixed bikes to be broken, an '80s Univega in mint condition to be assembled...
Yeah, I'm occasionally jonesing for the full-time gig. But not that much.
For the Wester Ross fans, I'll be riding 035 in on Saturday to get it pimped for commuting. Chatter around the shop says a number of old-schooler's are going to stop in to see it. It's not every day a 30-year old British touring bike roll in to the shop. Hopefully the boys will have a camera going.
Now if Pi would surface and let me know what country she's in...

And no, I still haven't had a cigarette.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Part of me wants to flay the skin off the "cyclists" that only acknowledge their own, moreso the ones in cars, driving to their trail, or starting point.
Today, I rolled down the hill, in search of music, and malted adult beverages. The Cowgirl was celebrating 15 years with a dozen local bands, and I had a ticket to Cowboy Junkies at the Lensic. Memories of the Really Posh Guys almost crushed me, but that's another story.
As I rolled down said hill, a car with a couple bikes came up. I waved. I was ignored.
Perhaps because they were transporting mountain bikes, and I was riding La Gazza Ladra, perhaps they didn't notice me in the hundred yard visibility. Perhaps they were self-absorbed pricks who felt adding $3,000 of wind resistance to their car was cool.
It really doesn't matter after all... whatever rant I built on the way to town was washed away by the days events.
And perhaps that is the lesson. To me, to the pricks, to the people who make music for us.

And I signed a marriage certificate Saturday. No, it wasn't mine.
And I can't remember how many days it's been since I had a cigarette. More than five months...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorable Day

The joy of three-day national holidaze; I can have a great weekend and still have a day to write about it and have more fun.
Yesterday I rolled off my porch (literally) and headed into downtown. First thing was a quick visit to an outdoor shop, and a new reservoir for my pack. From there I rolled down to the Santa Fe River (which was churning along nicely for a change)and what I lovingly refer to as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This is a cut in the vegetation on the flood-plain of the river, mostly used by old, homeless vets (hence the name). It parallels one of the more expensive shopping streets and is basically in the heart of downtown, making it doubly fun.
When the river trail ended I was back up on the Alameda and on around to Upper Canyon Road. This is a warm climb surrounded by centuries-old adobe's, many being refurbished. At the end of this road are a couple of trailheads; some for hikers only, some fair game for all. I went left on Cerro Gordo and picked up the Dale Ball Trails on it's eastern edge. This is the biggest little trail network around, weaving in and out of the city limits, rushing beside and around private homes. And it's about as much fun as is legal here.
One of the highlights of the system is the fact that every junction is marked with a number and a mini-map. Most of the junctions are merely two ways to get to the same place, but those two routes vary greatly. You can form odd loops, figure-8's, or "try to get them all in" rides. Sometimes you'll go down one fork only to turn around and do it again just to see what the other fork was like. The terrain is a typical "high sierra" mix of sandy soil and rock, slipping into near-alpine forest at times. It can be brutally hot on the open cuts, and chillingly cool in the shade.
The vegetation is almost entirely coniferous, so you don't get much color change through the year, but the shade stays the same. It also turns into a quagmire in the rain, so be warned.
I ended up doing a big sweeping loop, meeting back up with Cerro Gordo at a different trailhead. It was a mostly downhill ride into town, giving me a few moments to cool down before turning onto Delgado and dropping back into the river to finish the ride on the same track as I started. Locals and tourists alike were enjoying the river, and they all smiled as I flew past, my own smile glued to my face.
I finished the afternoon at NMAHA getting a deep-tissue massage. $25 dollars for an hour of muscular ecstasy can't be beat.

Oh, and I dare not forget to mention... five months without a cigarette today!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wheel Goes 'Round

There are a number of reasons why I am enjoying my "wee dip" back into the shop scene, the boys at Mellow Velo being several, the addition of Art - an exponent. But the customers are a kick in several directions. Many are new to me, just folks and tourists, but occasionally I'll hear something to the tune of, "JC? You came back to the bike industry?" That usually gets a shy shrug from me. Something to the tune of 'busted.' (For the record, I'm only a hanger-on that gets paid to stop drinking. Any skill-sets I still have are a bonus.)
Today was one of those flashbacks, as well as a reunion with a family from Skate School, and some of the random "past life experiences" that inevitably happen when I spend too much time in any bike shop here.

And then there was an attempt at "arté"...

Late edition edit:

Wester Ross Update

As I have Monday off, and 'the boys' have so kindly (and foolishly) decided to open, I will be resurrecting Wester Ross 035 JSC on Monday. My own stand, my tools, off the clock, but in the view of the populace and tourons...
What a classic commuter; a touring bike from another age, another generation. A machine already filled with history.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spring Rain

The constant and continuous flow of intelligent prose is difficult for newspapers with one-hundred years experience, and far more overwhelming for a human with half that life, and a tenth of the journalistic experience. So yeah, it's been a while since I've updated.
When I rode every day, for every trip, I had tales. When I combined that with a full-time job in the 'industry' I had more tales. Now I'm a guy that's been off my bike for too long, with a real job, working one day a week at a shop. There will be tales, they'll just be further apart. Like last weekend when I had the keys to the shop...
But that's a different tale.

Lately, my life has been focused on the fact that I don't smoke cigarettes anymore. That has led to several epiphanies dealing with personal health. While these moments of auspicious glory are intense in their own right, they all help me come full-circle to the fact that my bike is the best thing that ever happened to me. A large part of my smoking history was 'on my bike'. I actually had a smoke at the top of climbs, during rest stops. It took me years to realize why my legs turned to stone after.
Now I have to relive some of those rides, do them (albeit weaker) without that chemical, shred the crap in my lungs. And enjoy some simple things; like a barbecue with fam this Saturday, a massage this Sunday, and a free Cowboy Junkies show next Sunday. At the Lensic, no less.
Now, if a certain little pvnp frame-builder would get her butt back home, life would improve exponentially.

As for future alley-cats; there is a map at Mellow Velo to stick pins into. The theory is "only in Santa Fe" and local weirdness is requested. Like an escalator that only goes up...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

In General...

For those of you under a rock somewhere, Issue #7 of Urban Velo is available. I mention it specifically because there is a Spokepunchers ad in it featuring a couple of prairie dogs.
"Yeah, so?"
Santa Fe is big on it's prairie dogs, or meeper's, as some of us call 'em. We relocate them before construction, we build them village's, we ship 'em off if no one has a spare acre (or 20). For many of us, they are the true sign that Winter has passed. They hibernate, so if you haven't heard "meep, meep, meep" as you're rolling past the park, you will see another snowfall, you will have a number of freezing mornings. That's important to two-wheeled folks, because we need to know when to change wardrobes. Okay, fine, we all need to know when to plant the 'shrooms and spinach.
I dig hearing them as I ride past, and meeping back at 'em.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

La Gazza Ladra

A few images of the latest project, the continued obsession...

So very fun to ride, a great way to get around Santa Fé.
One of these days I'll do a parts list here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Late Weekend Review

A wonderful hour of spinning La Gazza Ladra Saturday morning before rolling into the shop for a full day of wrenching. A decent flow of folks with the usual requests, as well as some heinous DOT4 brake work. I understand why Hayes uses it, but I still don't like it. That stuff is the most vile fluid known to mankind. You want to talk "carbon footprint?" How about carcinogenic footprint? Forget it, I'm not here to rant today.
Saturday was beautiful; warm, light breeze, perfect Spring weather. The usual cast of suspects rode by to say hi, and we shop-rats enjoyed the sunny bliss of the back "porch" for all it was worth. And even though our fearless leader bailed before noon to go ride, he returned with a delivery of fine pizza, and more malted barley beverages. And we actually get paid for this...
More fun on the fixed was to be had after the shop closed; laps around town searching various shrines, and other points of interest for future alleycats.
Sunday was lazy, playing with the irrigation and getting the indoor bike hooks rigged. Have to keep at least a couple of my bikes indoors...

125 days!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


The weather continues to creep into the 70's, my psyche is channeling my bike (voices whispering ride me follow me through my day), and my attempt at real food garners mixed results. If my energy level would equal my attitude level, life would be good, but I barely have any juice left after work, and I'd probably end up twitching in an arroyo if I attempted to ride.
At least I'll make it to the shop this weekend, hang with some folks and get a little greasy. That should improve my mood considerably.

120 days!

And dig this video...

The Four Horsemen from Luke Stiles on Vimeo.

Friday, April 11, 2008

MellowVelo Update

Things are flowing well in the new space, with the only "open manhole" being David's birthday party... that left some dents in a few skulls. Especially Chris'.

I shot a few new pics, with stuff in place, and people perusing. Of course, it would be better if all of you would come visit in person.

The glorious new parking/footbag zone...

The main workbench, where you might find me on a Saturday...

Bike Mike is very excited to be in the new space...

The clothing room looking festive in Spring colors...

The bike room filled with mountain love...

And some road love...

And some fixed-gear love...

And, as I wagered earlier, Brian is still on the couch...

The beginnings of another alleycat race are bubbling in the cauldron of my skull; something historical, but hysterical, too. I can't do serious. At least, not completely serious. There is too much fun to be had. I'm thinking "shrines" as the theme; big ones, little ones, old ones and new ones. You Fé riders keep track of some of your favorites, so I have a long list to work with.

Alright; the snow's gone (again), the sky is clear, and the sun is shining. Go forth and pedal!

107 days without a ciggie!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

back in the... shop?

Finally, a bit of time on a bike. Several bikes, actually.
I started out on my old, dependable, ti VooDoo, cruising the potholes and spots of dirt and cobble that litter Santa Fe. A breakfast burrito to go and a lazy loop around downtown to the shop, which it turns out was wonderfully busy, and it seems I have a new part-time job... Next thing I know, I have the "purple people-eater" in the stand; a Masi Gran Criterium with SRAM kit that's being fussy. SRAM? Road kit? How long have I been gone? Ah, brand new, I don't feel so old anymore. It's demons exorcised, or at least contained, I "tested it out." Interesting concept; there is only one shift paddle (no brake lever movement), and it only goes one way... it took a few tries, but it works. I'm not sure how long it would take to get over pushing through a click to get the click you want. But it was a gas to ride a light, fast road bike, pushing gears.
After several laps on that, I pulled La Gazza Ladra down. A reconsideration of lever placement, some grips to satisfy till my tape comes in, and a lap was in order. A lap that ended up being a continuing cycle of mellow spins and crazy attacks, a pit-stop back at the shop to tweak something, then the cycle began anew. Finally I put my clipless pedals on and took off on a longer route, pounding as hard as I dared, skating tourists and traffic, suddenly loving to climb. How is it climbing feels so damned good on a fixed-gear bike? So smooth, so nice, so perfect...
Back to the shop, and some tube changes, some quick-fixes, a hardcase box-job headed to Hawai'i for an Iron Woman, a bunch of rentals flowing in and out, a tour returning, pedal set-ups for a first-time clipless... after 3 years away, it was almost overwhelming. My mind was like a dusty hard drive, desperately seeking RAM, answers I knew I should have. But I think I liked it. I think I want to do it again next Saturday...
Finished out the day back on the VooDoo, bouncing off anything taller than the street, making the constant upward progress that is always the end of my rides.
It's good to be back. Thanks, David. Thanks, Mike. And Al, and Art, and even Brian.

A bow to Britain in the World's; 9 golds so far. Sweet Mother of Pearl.

94 days... I have almost forgotten that I smoked.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The first test ride of La Gazza Ladra finally happened today, and it was good. A few more touches, some last-minute bits, and she will be ready for pub crawls, alleycats, and tourist slalom. The weather is beginning to cooperate, my health is returning, and my jones is coming on strong.
Mellow Velo's new space is already rocking; service requests have tripled, rentals are flowing, sales are happening. Having direct-access parking really helps. People can swoop in, either in their cars or on their bikes, and there are usually three stands going, with a wrench available for each (unless I'm playing on one). Art has already settled in, and people have heard he is there. It's a little community now; socializing as much as actual retail work. It's a good mix.
And speaking of the boys of MV, they have generously donated my time to a number of publications. They, of course, did not bother discussing this with me first. They merely told the editors they "knew someone," and after said editors agreed, then they informed me. I love those guys; I think I'll beat them both with a pedal wrench.

Happy Easter! Go make like bunnies!

87 days!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Oh for the love of...

Sorry, kids, I've been sick all week. I missed the champagne gala, the project went on hold, and now that I can focus on some cycling in the real world, all I can say is someone please shoot Pat 'effing' McQuaid.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


It was 43 degrees at dawn this morning, which can only mean one thing... I must ride. But I have meetings, both business and esoteric, I have to babysit Skate School for a time, I have to check in on the progress of the shop, I have seven geocaches to find... what's a boy to do? Oh yeah, ride! The clients will get over the garb (or not), and everyone else has seen me dressed for the dirt before, so there. And yes, Pi, that means I'm riding the geared mtb today. Get over it.

First order of business: Go to this link and sign the petition to ask GoogleMaps to include bike routes.
Second order of business: The project goes on the stand next weekend. That's right, kiddies, in a perfect world, La Gazza Ladra will be rolling in a week. The parts are (I believe) all accounted for. I would do it this weekend, but the boys still want me to do it at the shop, and today is "transition" day for them. Plus, with all the stuff I have to do I would only frustrate myself by getting it partially assembled. So next Saturday it is.

Alright, kids, get off your collective butss and go do something; I have a wedding ceremony to write, and a world of subversive fun to experience. Not to mention several laws to break.

66 days without a cigarette, and the caffeine level has been quartered. It's a good thing I still have other vices.

edit - The link is active now... sorry

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Relocation Update

As I have mentioned, Mellow Velo is relocating to somewhat larger, considerably swoopier digs. Your erudite reporter managed a quick tour today, and with a secret decoder ring and a trophy-buckle camera.

Virtual tour in subdued hues...

From across the street, heading north on Old Santa Fe Trail...

Behind the hedge awaits the entrance (for a few)...

Most will sweep around back and stumble in the door on the right... and yes, Pi, the "beefsteak" is on the road again

Inside the back door. The "stone" bench will be to your left...

With a bathroom, then on to the kitchen (yes, a kitchen) on the far left...

Art's bench, and soon the "fridge" bench (mine,mine,mine), in the grotto on the right...

Moving forward to the back of the front door, we find the beginning of the espresso bar...

And to the left of that is Bike Mike, and the clothing room...

Which has some shelving, nice lighting, and a ladder...

Then on through the doorway to David and the New Bike room...

Turning left yet again to the lounge area, and Brian (who will probably be in the same spot when any of you actually set foot here)...

Beyond which we find the kitchen (yes, a kitchen), and at the end of the maze, the door we came in. Or was it the bathroom window?

Outside, on the right side of the building, is a strip of yard that is perfect for cleaning and prepping the rental fleet. Gravel, faucet, shade...

This is a delicious space, and perfect for a shop that does rentals as well as sales and service. The separate rooms, the old world / old school feel of the building, historic 'hood... it's going to be a great home base.

52 days free, by the way

Thursday, February 7, 2008

And Yet We Move On

Before I ooze about the flow of parts and the impending 'session of build', I must let everyone who has been there, is there, or will decide to go there, that my boys, the sponsors of my midlife crisis, at Mellow Velo are moving. They found somewhere in downtown Santa Fe with *gasp* seven parking spaces. The space is much larger, laid out like the house it once was, with a room for everything, including some lounging area, and even the occasional workstand for yours truly. Plus, they are bringing my old friend, nemesis, and occasional mistaken identity, Art, on board. This is extremely righteous on several levels, one being the fact that his shop was gutted by flames recently. But more about Art another day.
As for the 'session of build'; I am down to a few bits and pieces, but have decided not to rush. One; it is still zamboni-land out there, and the wind will still peel your nose off. Two; I would normally do the build at home, as I have (basically) a complete shop, though limited space. Mike and Dave have invited me to build it at Mellow, Dave indicating it would be even cooler in the new space. I tend to agree. The bike is 90% out of their shop, it's a classic ride (Dave says, "totally Victorian"), and I am almost as interesting to watch work as the monkeys at the zoo. I fling tools, though...
So unless I just cave completely and have to wrench on something new, 'the project' will wait a few more weeks. Actually, it might even be nice to wrench in a shop setting again. I hope there is somewhere for safety checks...


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

...the Wind At Your Back

This will be neither the first, nor the last report of the passing of Sheldon Brown.
For many, his words were inspirational, logical, and down-right useful. He wrote about everything he tried, and tried many things. When preparing to fit together some "not-necessarily" compatible parts, I always checked his articles; odds were he had some tips.
As a wrench, as a cyclist, as a person, I will miss his presence on this plane.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Phil (the fuzzy one)

I would just like to say that Phil, or more to the point, the tuxedoed rodephiles that fondle his junk every year and claim to know his wisdom, can kiss my fuzzy, pale butt. I am in the middle of breaking this year's ice (physical, metaphorical, and metaphysical), and do not need the buzz-kill of "six more weeks" of Winter. I'm well aware that the Vernal Equinox is nearly seven weeks away; that does not mean I want to dwell on the weather sucking any more than it already has. As far as I am concerned, it is going to be a perfectly ridiculous February, with March acting as the hare named for it.
In other words, kids, I'm going to have fun, ride places not meant for two-wheels to tread (both on- and off-road), and shortly, oh-so-shortly, begin to build La Gazza Ladra. Yes, the last of the parts trickle in, being picked and snatched as if by the namesake itself. So much is done, so much left to do...

Now, as to the rodent mentioned previously, I personally prefer the explanation rendered in the legend of Cailleach. It is said that this is the day she gathers firewood for the rest of Winter. If it's a bright and sunny day ("shadow"), then she'll collect a great pile of wood, ensuring she'll need it. If it's a gloomy day ("no shadow"), she'll only gather a bit, and the weather will follow accordingly.

great, but what does this have to do with bikes, dude?

Nothing. But I'm sick of feeling trapped by the weather, and I wanted to rant about it. I have the technology. Noodling on a wheel, learning to beat a drum in the same cadence as my head against the wall, and attempting to grow fungus with an IQ higher than the average convenience store worker are all minor distractions that are losing their luster. If I don't inflict some eye-opening reminders upon unsuspecting, mentally dead Hummer drivers soon, I'm going to "shoot six holes in my freezer."

And for anyone keeping track; 38 days.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Yet another cyclist, yet another friend, has been shrugged off the road by an unseeing, uncaring pseudo-human driving a tribute to American Excess and "farm-equipment" tax breaks; four tons of custom Silverado with an acre of custom bent tubing for a bumper. I suppose it's needed to protect that truck from the hazards on the ranches so prevalent in Cambridge, Mass. Like messengers, wrenches, and welders.
My friend is okay, hence the "shrugged". A little sore and a lot pissed off, but physically undamaged. The behemoth slid out of the depths, catching her rear wheel with the afore-mentioned bumper, driving her to the sidewalk in its wake like so much flotsam. And continued on its way, completely oblivious to anything but its own course.
There are many of these malevolent beasts on the road today. The present power structure encouraged the consumers, then whispered even larger platforms to the manufacturers, creating a self-replicating cycle. Trucks in this country have become our Borg; resistance is futile you will be assimilated.
So tonight I toast my friend with an ESB, a touch of kine, and a steaming Shepherd's Pi.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Too Cool

And for once I am not talking about the temperature.
I am referring to this all-wooden bicycle that a 16-year old kid built. Even the chain and freewheel system. You can read the whole story at Lee Valley Tools.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Barter, in the first.

Being a wrench has its advantages if you live in anything resembling "barter town". It's a service that is good for beer, groceries, couch. It will win friends and influence people much better that the 'hearts and minds' theory*. Today it garnered me a most unusual trade; tenor drum lessons.

Now, I didn't really know that I wanted to learn to play percussion, and hadn't planned on it. I had stepped in to listen to the practice of an interesting local phenomenon, and through a whirlwind moment of somewhat intentional miscommunication, I find myself in line to play in a band.
A marching band.
A Scottish Pipe and Drum Band.

Ah, well, any excuse to wear a kilt.

25 days without the nails!

*If you are unfamiliar with this US policy, ask. I'll give you the line.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


As much as I am sick of the cold, I am even more sick of feeling down. I've tried to get myself jazzed about damn near anything, but like a damp log in the fireplace, I burn for a moment and then fizzle with a tell-tale wisp of smoke. This has given me a great deal of time for introspection, as well as some studying. Certain lines of research constantly attract me, and I occasionally find myself ensconced in a veritable fortress of books. Most of the things I search for would be deemed esoteric at best, and rarely have to do with cycling.
Unless you want to compare the concept of "three" so prevalent in religion, the concept of a "wheel" that occurs in many of the same religions, and more, and the expression of the front wheel, crank, rear wheel trinity of motion on a bicycle. Deus in machina.
The Center will also continue its Fellowship on Subversive Studies; Seventies Subculture Excavations. Space is extremely limited, so get those essays in now.

On an obliquely related note, I'm going to light a fire, roll up in an acre of f-ink fur, and watch Mists of Avalon.

22 days nic-free

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Project Death

It is interesting how a slight shift in one's life, or thought processes, can alter the course of your momentum. A few days ago I couldn't wait to continue hammering out the latest project, and even though the frame has arrived, I really don't care anymore. My motivation has been sucked dry. Parts lie in random locations, collecting dust. A wheel with little or no tension hangs in the stand, looking nearly as forlorn as it should.
Presently, I would rather curl up with a book than write one, rather watch a video than star in one, rather drink single-malt at the bike shop than actually build a bike.
It is curable; I know this. Time is the prescription, though a healthy dose of warmth wouldn't hurt.

And I'm still not smoking! Fifteen days!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Roots and Shoots

Another day of glorious scents, with a sudden cold snap that numbed everything from the face down. A bittersweet afternoon as the Pi of Projects prepares to return to the Temple of Gear Ratio Equivocation. An impromptu archaeological dig ensued, and though no evidence of cycling was found in the layers of detritus, reminders of our subversive past were in force.
It has been said, resaid, and mis-said, that those who forget history are destined to repeat it. Perhaps those who search our past are ready to change it. Retro is usually a return to a more 'enlightened' time, or at least an enlightened memory. Fixed gear is a pure system that has, and always will, rise above the technocracy of the Industry. Before it was chic it was the benchmark. They rode Lé Tour for years after the dérailleur was invented before giving in.
Pi understands this, and has the capacity to incorporate it into the mainstream consciousness, subtly, subversively.
And then there are the Projects...

Mucha decorates the walls, Dropkick Murphys wreck the halls.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Quitter Update

Nine days and holding, urges are almost non-existent. I am beginning to remember what certain things actually smelled like. And I love what cold air smells like, though I am already finished with serving Her Royal Majesty, Winter. The riding I have accomplished has been painful, and the desire to ride has been bitten at every turn. It is good fortune that my 'project' is evolving slowly; it would drive me nuts not to ride it, were it finished.
So instead, I ponder the year gone by, and a year to come, with the help of a fresh point-of-view, a new friend, a fresh set of lungs, a new ride, and far too many directions to take the Center's new Department of Projects. Subversive Projects, that is.