Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lawns and Pedals

I am aware that there is nothing more important in Life than keeping up with this blog. Anything else in my life pales in comparison. Unfortunately though, I can only ignore the real world for so long. It has a way of insisting on my attention. So I took a few weeks to try and get it in order. Made some headway too.

Damn it's hard to get the words out after being M-I-A for a few weeks. This writing shit is not exactly like riding a bike. But it is close I guess. I haven't forgotten the words. Just the logical and ordered way I should put them down seems to have taken a hit.

But like riding a bike, all I have to do is get back on the saddle and start pounding away. Eventually some synapses will get in sync. Electrical impulses will all run the same way. My brain and fingers will become one. Of course, even on a good day, this is a rare occurrence. It does happen though.

So anyway, I have been a busy little camper these past few weeks. Many hours spent trying to make sense of the madness at the bike shop. I move from one fire to the next. Always falling short, I never seem to catch up. Sometime in August, I may be back in control. Until then I will just hold on and try to steer my way through my own "Perfect Storm".

I get the repairs under some control and the new product in boxes waiting to be tagged and bagged for sale sits gathering dust in front of the skateboard counter. I take care of the product and all of a sudden I am backed up with 35 prepairs in a heartbeat. And in the meantime, the floor stays unswept and dust and clutter begin to squeeze my small shop from every nook and most crannies.

About the time I am sure men with nets and a rubber suit in my size will drop by to give me ride to the local basket factory, some good friend will drag me out for a ride. And sanity returns. Even if just for a minute.

The few waking hours I have had outside the shop will find me with a mower in front of me, pruning shears in hand, or a hose trying to water soemthing back to life. It's odd finding pleasure in yard work again. 15 years ago, I lived to fight the good fight keeping the the local jungle at bay. Never reached that "Better Homes & Gardens" yard, but I kept it tidy and trim. Somewhere, sometime I lost my way, my interest or enthusiam for anything related to gardening.

My yard became a chore, not the party it used to be. I stopped mowing, raking, weeding, and pulling posion ivy out by the roots. The jungle creeped in reclaiming a foot there, a few yards here. The next thing I knew, my yard had disappeared. Replaced by a sad and pitiful space. Grass up to my asshole. A field of wild roses and thistles blocked the back from incursions and also excursions. No one rubber necked anymore when they drove by. I was now the embarrassment of Sam Page Road.

Well, Mike's back! I can drive by my neighbor's yards now and often sneer, " My grass is shorter than yours". Instead of being the shame of the neighborhood, my yard can stand tall with the big dogs on Sam Page Road now.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Briefly Engaged Elsewhere

Just a quick "How ya Doin?- I'm doin fine" note to let all my fans (all 3 of them) know I am still around and hopin to get back to posting nonsense as soon as my real life settles down some. This is the season of late hours at my bikeshop. Any spare hours are dedicated to my way too big yard and aging house. And when possible, sneaking in a ride.

The prognosis is not good. A re-roofing project looks inevitable when more hours become available. G-D houses! Just when I think I have it all covered, something else breaks, leaks, or cracks.

I will return. Okay, okay, no yawning. Just thought I'd throw out a token gesture.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Entered my first race in 1987. "Jack Rabbit Run" in Connecticut. I was sure I was going to leave all 300 other losers in my dust. Got the hole shot. Big mistake. All 300 immediately proceeded to ride right over me. Face down in the mud, I realized I had over estimated my gnarly-dudeness or under-estimated theirs.

I raced Mountain and Road for the next 5 years or so, finally grabbing some top five finishes in Sport and Cat 4. But I was never much more than pack fodder. I raced to have fun. Nothing like hitting a corner with 100 rear derailleurs whirring inches apart and everyone comes out clean. Quite the rush. Having a no dab day in a mountain bike race. A ride where I descend like Tomac and climb like Overend. Grin factor multiplied.

Lately I have trimmed down my racing to an odd mountain bike race and my yearly punishment at the 24 hours of Great Glen. I wish I had the time to go to more 24 hour races. I would like to try one solo sometime. Dark-thirty in the woods can create some interesting times and test my mettle. Exhaustion and the shadows from the bike lights almost create serious flashbacks to my undistinquished and over indulgent past.

The photo at the top is a shot of a bike race here in Springvale at the turn of the century. No, not 2000. The previous century you nimrod. Smartass.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thanks Dad

Tom Stormcrowe pm'd this to me in the Bike Forums awhile back. It is indeed an unerving picture from high in the clouds of my business location. My building is just to the left of the red drop with the letter "A" in it. My front door is directly across from the 3rd parking spot .

The image conjures up all kinds of secret agent 007 NSA black helicopter scenarios. I wait anxiously for Gene Hackman to come into my bikeshop soon and tell me to stop using my cell phone. They know where I am. Of course having my street address on file with the IRS would probably do without all this eye in the sky type fussing about. But we all know the secret black ops folks have serious budgets to use up.

I expect the smart bomb to hit any moment now. I am sure General "at the moment in charge" Beefneck has signed off on the mission and Delta Force type dudes wearing black are camped out on the bank roof next door aiming a targeting laser at my front window. Tomorrow I will come to work and find a 40 foot deep crater where my shop used to be. Per usual for this type of surgical strike, the target was not in the building but 3 dogs, a cat and a family of four were.

Since yesterday was my dad's birthday, there was some residual memory left over today when I started with this picture from orbit. Early in his Air Force career, my dad was assigned to aerial recon. Flying around in open cockpit planes, I imagine him with a pad of cheap grade school paper and some crayons. But the reality was his group were the first to develope effective camera shots of the ground below. But contrary to my dad's wishes, his natural managerial abilities bumped him up and out of the nuts and bolts part after only a couple of years. He always regretted that. Yeah, he was promoted. But the aerial photography was the one thing he really loved about his 31 years in the Air Force.

Anyway Dad, I hope wherever you are, or even that if you are, you can appreciate what has evolved from your early efforts taking pictures from a bi-plane with a Brownie. Back in the days when you not only lived by the words "Dead Reckoning" but could also die by them. I loved your tales of being lost and using telephone lines to find a town, any town. Or the several plane crashes you walked away from. Landing on roads, fields, anywhere flat enough to plop a troubled plane.

After Note - Before I punch the publish button and forever have to live with what I have written, I always do an edit read. And no matter how well I dissect the drivel, I always miss something. I guess my posts are akin to those fancy Persian rugs. Perfect except for one flaw left in to indicate no one or thing is perfect. Sounds good to me. I think I'll go with that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tourist Trap

May 1st. A day of importance all over the World. Different things are celebrated, remembered or cursed.

May 1st is my dad's birthday. Well, it would be his birthday if he was still kicking. Now it has become a day to celebrate his life, remember him fondly, and then follow it all up with some mild cursing and calling him names. As the years pass, the negatives seem to fade and the remembered fondly shine brighter. I miss that old goat.

The picture may seem to have little to do with my dad. If you were as inside this joke as I am, you would understand it's meaning and signifigance. My dad loved jokes like this. Especially the wooden lobsta pot. He would always chuckle when he saw a car from Mass, NY, or some other place heading south on the Turnpike with one or two of these seaweed stinking beauties strapped to the roof.

His appreciation of Yankee ingenuity and humor increased with the sale of each one to folks from away. They would use them for a coffee table base. They might become a lawn ornament for that ocean motif they had planned in the back corner of their suburban postage stamp yard. Or they were destined to be given to friends they did not like much. Who knew? Who cared what they did with them? All the contrary old lobsta men knew was they were damn easy to get rid of if they was piled next to the road with a hand painted sign on them that said, "Bonafide Maine Lobsta Traps for Sale. $5 each. 2 for $10".

My dad was not born in Maine. But he belonged here. I think he truly enjoyed his last years on this planet as a resident of Maine. He had his huge yard. He had his drop by drinking buddies. And he had his privacy. Folks up here don't get nosy or too friendly without an invite. He liked that. And so do I. That's one reason I stayed.