Friday, May 24, 2013

Rinse Cycle

Every picture and video I
took yesterday was
too soon or too late.
Need to do better
The forecast said stop but the email chatter said go. So five of us met in Delaware and rolled out under partly cloudy skies in defiance of all meteorological prognostications. We treated ourselves to almost two hours of singletrack bliss before mother nature put her foot down. In that time we did most of the northern half of the park in spite of:

  • A mechanical less than one minute into the ride (Cinco's streak of SS breakdowns continues)
  • A spill off a six foot high platform in the skills park (we checked with KT and yes it hurts now)
  • A Tumble in the Chunnel (CR got pretty wet but it wouldn't matter in about 10 minutes anyway)
  • Getting lost, off the trail, in the best marked trail system north of the Vernadsky Research Base in Antarctica (CD "never been down that one before, let's try it")

About 2 hours into the ride the heavens opened up with a deluge of of biblical proportions. The rainwater was refreshing but quickly turned the trails into a slurry of mud. Within a few seconds we were beyond caring about being wet and the mud was kind of fun, so we debated taking run at the Corkscrew and the Goat Trail. A well timed crack of thunder shut that idea down and we sprinted for the safety of the cars, and McGlynn's pub.

Grab the women and children,
there is some scary s$*t going
down in the DD parking lot.
Back at the parking lot the rain was coming down so hard we didn't dare open the car doors. So we did the only thing that was left to do. We stood there laughing, letting the cool rain cleanse us, watching  muddy rivulets run down our legs. By now 2 inches of it was running across the parking lot so I took off my shoes and rinsed my socks in the runoff. You know it's bad when your socks make the parking lot runoff dirtier than when it started.

Then rain finally stopped as quickly as it had started, but no the show wasn't over. Not yet. The next act was the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot wardrobe change. The full boat, including underwear. It wasn't in the cars because we were too wet. It was done standing in the parking lot and we have information that it raised a few eyebrows in the yoga class that rents the space above DD.

We wrapped up at McGlynn's with a lot of laughing and beers, a trip to the smoked sausage bar, and a very tolerant waitress.

I got home just after dark and promptly drove into the garage with the bike still on top - both bike and house are showing a little (cosmetic) wear as a result. Then whatever modicum of self assurance I had left was dashed when my daughter gave me a hug and then told me "you smell." So I took my third shower of the day.

As expected it was a great day...but ironically what made it memorable was the un-expected.


"It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." 
     -- Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Something Different

WARNING: This blog post has nothing to do with mountain biking but it does feature a human powered two-wheel vehicle and it's my blog anyway so there.

Five hours before showtime
My vision blurred momentarily as the low frequency sound wave rippled through the fluid in my eyeball. I saw the hair on Sara's head move with each beat of the bass drum. We were in a decrepit parking lot in a rundown industrial section of Philadelphia, hanging on the front of an outdoor stage. I was with Sara and her friend Kristina watching the second of four bands – Young Guns – who would be followed by Halestorm and … get ready … Bullet for my Valentine. I was there as chaperon but it turned out my eyes would not just be jiggled but would be opened in some unexpected ways.

The performance on the stage was not particularly musical, but it was loud and it was honest and it was stirring in an intensely primal way. I was captivated in spite of my old-school music snobbery. The lead guitar was thrashing his instrument and the front man pouring out his soul. It didn’t take long for the crowd to warm up and soon we had the first crowd surfer riding over the crowd in a sea of hands, totally trusting of the thousands of strangers who were lifting him, carrying him toward the stage.

Gus working the crowd
The crowd roared their approval and before long there were more surfers up, riding the wave in the crowd. When they reached the edge of the stage, the crowd would heave them over the barricade into the arms of the (very large) security guards. The guards would put them on their feet and send them to the side of the stage to rejoin the crowd and do it again. At times there were half a dozen surfers floating toward the stage at once. We saw a guy in a wheelchair surf the crowd. Within seconds he was out of the wheelchair, floating, riding the wave. Once the surfer and his wheelchair were over the barricade, security him back in his chair, and wheeled him back into the crowd. Twenty minutes later he was back up, surfing to the stage to be put back into his wheelchair again.

The crowd was churning pretty good when Gus (Young Guns front man) called for a mosh pit. Immediately the pit formed in the middle of the crowd. People were throwing themselves into the mosh, bouncing off each other, getting knocked around and occasionally knocked down. It was rough and you could definitely get a little banged up in there, but it wasn’t angry and it wasn’t hurtful. It was a tribal expression of total abandon, surrendering to the energy pulsating from the stage and the crowd.

With the steady flow of crowd surfers, the churning mosh pit, and the band nearly self destructing on the stage it was hard to tell where the show actually was because it was was one huge seething mass of humanity and music and vibration, on and off the stage, feeding off each other, emotionally charged and physically bonded. It wasn’t a stage performance, it was a full immersion primordial soup experience.

Now let's get back to my beloved teenage daughter Sara and her friend Kristina, the two sixteen year-olds who got me here. Remember how important music was to you as a teenager? How the sound and the lyrics spoke to you in profound ways? Now put yourself in Sara’s shoes, at this show. This is her band and her music, the music that speaks to her very soul. This music is shaking her to the core and she is immersed in a sea of thousands who also relate intensely to this music. They get it. And they are all out of their minds, the mosh pit is churning, she is in the front row, hanging over the barricade, and Gus (front man and heart throb) is singing. To her. He is looking at her and he is pointing at her and he is singing those words she knows by heart to her! I can only imagine what that felt like for her, but I can tell you that being her father and seeing her in this moment almost brought me to tears it was so beautiful.

After the show, the girls spent way too much money on t-shirts at the "merch" tables, and we tracked down a couple of the performers including Gus. This would be the next surprise. I expected a frazzled raw nerve, a suicidal wild man. What we got instead was a gentleman who was very gracious and attentive to my 16 year old and her friend. He engaged them, listened to them, spend time with them and he gave them the experience of a lifetime.

The girls were pretty clear as the show wound down that their lives had just peaked, right there. This night was the very pinnacle of their young lives. I know there will be more to come for them, but really at that moment they were at the pinnacle and I was too, thanks to them. I think I had forgotten what a breathtaking view it can be from up there. Thank you girls…

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Cinco De Mayo gets started
two days early
Following is a Friday Happy Hour Ride fun quiz, because I am still trying to figure out what the heck happened out there yesterday afternoon...

Kirk didn't like the flower on his helmet because
  1. It had poor aerodynamics 
  2. It made his butt look big
  3. The pink clashed with his yellow Engin bike bike and black spandex
Mike impressed the group by
  1. Riding a bike to the beer tree less than three weeks after separating his shoulder
  2. Doing a a "too good" good imitation of Mike Honcho 
  3. Wearing a pearl necklace
  4. Tequila, because beer and
    mountain biking do not mix
  5. All of the above
People were looking at us weird as we rode to The Beer Tree because
  1. We were riding to a beer tree
  2. Our bikes and helmets were festooned with big tissue paper flowers
  3. We were celebrating Cinco De Mayo on May third
  4. We don't know, nor do we care
The Beer Tree was pruned because
  1. There was one of everything up there and we had run out of ideas
  2. The cans were fading and it was starting to look more like a recycling center exploded than an object d'art
  3. Some people in high places may not have our sense of humor
  4. Fresh Guacamole and homemade
    heirloom tomato salsa
  5. We don't like beer anymore
It is a good idea to ride the bonus loop wearing a sombrero if
  1. You are Irish
  2. The sombrero is from Chi Chi's
  3. It is May 3rd
  4. All of the above
Riding home with a bag full of empty beer cans strapped to your camelback is
  1. A good idea because leaving it in the woods would be inconsiderate
  2. A bad idea because the stale beer leaks all over your shorts
  3. A good idea because the stale beer leaks all over your shorts
  4. Does the pink flower on my head
    make by butt look big???
  5. Something that had to be done
For Friday Happy Hour Rides we draw the line at two session ales (5% or less) because alcohol and mountain biking do not mix
  1. True
  2. False
  3. Huh?
Log your answers here, the winner gets a free mp3 recording of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' Spanish Flea (a.k.a. theme to "The Dating Game").


"It's such a fine line between stupid and clever." 
     -- David St. Hubbins (This is Spinal Tap)