Rants on Cycling and on Life


ah mornings....
I have never been a morning person
some things never change, coffee and an earlier bedtime can help
but a child with nightmares in the middle of the night
his midnight transfer to my bed
then the patter of little feet kicking me in the back through the night (through the pillow buffer between us)
the owner of those little feet waking all chipper and happy to be up and awake before 6am
can all add up to make for a tough start to the day
luckily Lisa takes over and lets me steal a few more minutes of sleep each morning

my boss is cool
there is a degree of flexibilty
my said "In Time" is 9am, but a 9:30 arrival is acceptable and nearly the rule these days
but one minute past 9:30 and I feel like I am abusing the flexible system
sure, every once in a while
but lately I am unlikely to mount my bike before 9:15
not that there is so much to do
but each little thing can be a wrestling match
this am Dean discovered Lisa's dental floss
it was like there was kite string everywhere
I chased it down only no kite, just giggling Dean at the end of the unraveled wax coated string
sure that is wrong, he may know it is wrong
that may be what makes it so fun, mischevious
but it may be more a matter of curiousity
and well, we do not want to punish his curiousity
could not get Dean to let me to change his diaper
once the diaper was changed, could not get him to put on his pants
as I reached for his coat he took down his pants
tried tactics of distraction
naming his favorite things
one of which, "do you want to put some toys in your backpack?"
this is usually the clincher, the backpack gets filled, then put on his back, then we march out the door
no backpack
so this morning everything was more by force rather than the gentle drawing of him out the door
once his coat, hat, and gloves were on...Dean was waiting by the door, so I needed to leash the dogs and put coat, hat, and shoes on myself
he got a free ride this am
we were too late for climbing trees, throwing stones, and playing "fighter power" with the sticks he finds on the trail
the dogs ran leashless in the woods as my Ben Gay coated back braced itself with a 40 pound monkey bouncing around on my shoulders
we arrived
we settled in to what he calls "art class"
this morning I brought some of the Baby Announcements for some of the teachers and staff
Laura the proper Peruvian teach of Deans pressed the announcement to her heart
Dean was very pleased to present it to her
I was pleased to find a purpose of one of the several hundred remaining announcements, as we printed the smallest run, 500 total

well that was this morning
it is a beautiful day this morning

last night was warm enough for a hike on that same loop across the street
when I got home from work I could see that Dean was very active

apparently he was also a meltdown waiting to happen
from the sight of dried smudges of dirt on his face
it looked like he had already cried and wiped his face with his dirty little hands
to try and ease the burden off lisa who had Grant in her arms I offered to take Dean for a hike with the dogs
Dean made it clear, "I do not want to go for a hike."
I tried to lure him in with the opportunity to see the sun just before it drops off the horizon
Dean made a face and stood his ground, "I do not want to see the sunset"
all the while our neighbor's son Elijah was listening in, and he wanted to go for a hike in the woods with us
we have done this loop with Elijah several times before and the boys always have a good time
so Elijah tried to talk Dean into taking a hike
it was a funny sight
from a few steps away it was clear what Elijah was trying to communicate
his gestures with his hads were clear, but his bilingual upbringing has him conveying full sentences with one word
by this time I can fill in the blank
but it can be a funny sight
especially due to Elijah's size
if Dean is tall and boyish looking for a 2.5 year old boy, looking more like a 4 or 5 year old
then Elijah looks like he is 6
he is a tower of power
fast and nimble
often speaking with his hands
which in a debating situation means that he pushes other children over
Dean really digs Elijah, and vice versa
Elijah did not have to be too persuasive
it was decided, they would join me for the hike
so I had the leashes in one hand
and the two boy's hands in the other
we waited by the parked cars for a chance to cross our busy highly traversed road
once we finally crossed I heard, Kurt call out
he wanted to join us with Alec, a smaller and a tad younger boy
we waited for the others just as we entered the woods
Elijah did not want any more people to come along
he nearly threw a fit
even with his broken communication it was clear, he did not want Alec to come along
there was some slight discussion
during the discussion Dean had taken off
he was already 50 yards down the hill
I ran after him
leaving Kurt to deal with Elijah and his issues...which more than likely had to do with the issue of "three"
with three there is always an odd man out
and Elijah was showing this right off the bat
once I caught Dean I could see that Elijah had run right after me and the hike had begun with Kurt and Alec
it was tough
Dean and Elijah were not only faster than Alec, but they did not seem to want to include him
almost like they learned to "ditch" him early on
no children at this age are particularly good at sharing
so fighting for position on the log
tugging for the same stick is to be expected

once on the main trail we were on our way
Dean and Elijah had stepped into a game that was designed to get them to move faster
basically I claim to be chasing them and they claim to be chasing each other
rarely does anyone ever catch anyone
unless they get stuck at a large log
when that bottleneck occurs, I grab them, wrestle with them for two seconds, they giggle endlessly, I raise them over the obstacle, and then the game begins again, Dean asking, "can you get me? can you get me again? can you get me and Elijah?" That was the game. A very effective game for getting these guys around the loop and getting them around the loop fast. On this day the unconcious effort to "ditch" Alec had a bit of mischief in the air. Dean kept running off the trail. A firm rule..."Stay on the Trail!"
so when Kurt bisected the woods to catch up, he got a tongue lashing
I have no right to tell him how to behave, but if we do not stay on the trail, how can we tell the kids to stay on the trail?
Just like the parents who make their kids wear bicycle helmets, yet they refuse to wear them themselves!
the practice what I say, not what I do method is not good
in any case
Alec was a little left out
Kurt was sure to be sad and protective as any parent would while his child is being left out
there will be times when Alec and another child bond, thus excluding other children from their activities

enough for now
back to work
last night after the hike
I dropped Elijah off, Dean squeezed through the door uninvited and so did I
it is alway more easy to entertain the two boys than one
the toys get are all given a revived sense of purpose
toys that were ignored since the day of purchase are fought over
it is quite a site


many years ago
in a lifetime very far far away
a life without a wife, two kids, two dogs, a straight 9-5 gig, and a mortgage
I was in college
it was not time well spent
but it was a good time just the same

during that time of the mid 80's I was living and loving the music of post punk DC hardcore
riding a skateboard
dying my hair and growing it long
no real cares in the world other than where we were drinking that night

while in college in Southern Maryland I met an assortment of local folks who also skated, most of which were far better skaters than I
most of which shared a love for PUNK ROCK
more specifically DC Hardcore
admitably I was playing varsity soccer and riding my bike
skating was just yet another aside
in many ways it seemed that I shared more in common with many of the locals than I did with white bred college crowd
there were some colorful characters...
Todd and Toby Morris
Damian and his sister Anya, Damian who was a student, later became my room mate
Rusty Pistaccio and older guy with his own place
Dave Bean with a ramp in his backyard
Tevor with a ramp in his backyard
some guys I knew from the bars that I would go trail riding with, Greg and others whose names and faces are far forgotten
there are more names, but not all central to the story

These guys were locals
Every college has its local/college by rivalry
I have seen BREAKING AWAY enough times to know that I am more CUTTER than COLLEGEBOY
many of these guys attended the college parties and chased the college girls
of course boys being boys....there was often some tension

back to work
more on this later


Rusty and Todd....
there story is an intersting one
I can recall Todd and his kid brother Toby talking about getting out of the county, St Mary's County, Maryland
it was funny
Toby was no more than 14 or 15 when we first met
he was full of this raw energy, most of it positive, all of it channeled into skating and his desire to get to New York
seems that their dreams and desires have come true
and they seemed to have done it all on their terms
all rocking together in H2O

Rusty looks like the same dude I met some 15 years ago
he was a cool cat then
and it looks like he has not shaken the cool and has managed to stay true to his course
he still makes music and jewelry
check out his site for his hand made Jewelry, PNUT

the point of this story is blurred and so are my memories
just ranting because there was a mention of RUSTY and his artwork on VH1 the other day
so I did some Web Surfing to catch up and see where these guys are at
it gave me a warm feeling to see that it is all working out for these guys
it has been a decade since I have seen any of these guys
last I saw they had less tattoos
but the same positive attitude

would love to catch up with them
guess if I chased them down I could hear the stories right from their mouths
instead of reading it all online

Along with the Grandfather Clause on Courtesy....
Some people think that Headphones are a replacement for Helmets.....
I love music...
Music can get us pumped.
Cruising on a snowboard or doing along road ride can be enhanced by the right soundtrack....
with that said....
I opt out of that option. We only have five senses, and hearing is greatly tied into feeling. If we have music blasting in our ears we will not hear that Caprice Classic with paper tags rolling up fast on our horn....just the implied....."move or else"...I have always moved, never tried to learn what the "or else" means, never flipped off this driver always let them pass on their way.
Headphones will also take the rider out of the moment and take them to a different place...
that place may be in the clouds, while actually the rider should be here on earth in the moment
living it
feeling it
watching out for other riders, obstacles, and the unexpected

this is not to say that I do not occassionally bend these rules
on long tours I may need to break it up a bit
or if I am alone and only riding cruisers on my snowboard
for me very few rules are entirely set in stone
but the routine of the headphones is a dangerous one
play the odds
odds are that a person with headphones on is more likely to put themselves in danger
than a person using all of their senses to take in their surrounds

and this totally ignores the notion of all the wonderful things to hear on a bicycle ride
including silence

a man from Vancouver shared this little story with me
and I share it with you.....

A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying the sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!"

The teacher praised the first student, "You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do."

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!" The teacher commended the second student, "Your eyes are open, and you see the world."

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student replied, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings." The teacher was pleased, and said to the fourth student, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."

The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, "I am your student!"


Grandfather Clause on Courtesy?
As a bicycle commuter I take a variety of paths to work. At times I am running late and am forced to take the most direct route to my office at 20th and M Street downtown, other times I have the free time to take the long way on any of a number of the paved bicycle paths around the city. More often than not these trips on the path are taken home from work during PEAK RUSH HOUR COMMUTER TRAFFIC. In a congested city like Washington DC, during the peak hours these multi-use paths can be littered with a variety of people taking on a variety of activities. There are the straight up commuters, the racers training, the distance runners, the speed walkers, bladers, women with strollers, you get the picture. It is important for all users to be considerate of each other, we should all be empathetic to the others and SHARE THE TRAIL. Yesterday when taking the long road home I encountered this wide variety of users, I passed each walker, cyclist, jogger with the basic respect. Dropping my speed when I felt that the blue haired lady with the blue haired dog would be spooked or scared by my fast and close pass, and alerting joggers three abreast with ample time for them to create a new formation allowing me to pass, offering an excuse me or a thank you at the appropriate time. Then I felt a cyclist coming up on my tail, I glanced back and sure enough there is a man tailing close behind in a bright colored rain jacket, very 80's. He makes his pass, not a word, not a glance...then he passed a walker...again not a word..nothing. I pass the pedestrian and give a polite and almost quiet, "On your Left." and roll up along side of the other cyclist and make mention of his lack of an "audible." He says that he saw me look back, which is a response that I usually get from these guys. I comment that he said nothing to the walker, as we pass other walkers and I excuse myself and try to be gracious....he says nothing. By this point I am really too winded for conversation, I am on a crusty mountainbike with knobby tires and he is on a well...crusty road bike, but at least he has the thing tires with high pressure for a faster roll. I try to discuss things, in my oxygen deprived brain I am forced to fall back on the grunts and displeasure instead of an articulate well thought out discussion.

more on this in a bit
need to grab some lunch
I am starved

back from lunch
lets try and wind this down before it is time to slide down the dinosaur....

this commuter who may have been a few years older than me was cruising at a healthy clip, perhaps faster than would be safe, but I was going roughly the same speed, so I am in no position to judge. It is my contention that the "audible" is not given to spook the other users and seldom is it used to ask them to move, but rather as a bit of me "on your left" means, yes I did see you there, no I did not mean to spook you, I am on my way...have a nice day smile exclamation point. This other rider did not feel this way. He as other riders try to do, pulled some sort of tone like..."I have been riding these trails for years..." Well, I rode those trials when they were still train tracks, so shut the fuck up grandpa! The trails have not been there that long, I grew up in that area and I did ride my Sturdem Archer three speed over those bumpy rail road ties. There is no grandfather clause on basic courtesy. Each user has a right to the path. And if we are going to share it we should share it respectfully and hopefully safely. That drafting.....did I say no drafting...slow at congested areas...anticipate the moves of other users...expect the most idiotic as it is sure to unfold before you....every jogger is about to 'button hook' and head back....every small child is about to zig and zag on their bike...and every dog is about to lunge for a squirrel. But most riders do not ride in anticipation of this. They are all too busy fighting for the crown, King of the Trail!

Well, there are these things on weekends...They are called races. And well, this may be the appropriate time for racing, drafting, letting it all hang out, testing your limits, etc.

I handled this guy wrong. As I often do, but, so many people are always right. Somehow we have all decided that we can argue ourselves right. My parting words to him as I buttonhooked to loop back to DC and he went forward as we hit downtown Bethesda was "as you close your eyes before you go to sleep rethink your behavior."
These are the words from a seasoned asshole. I can be an asshole any time of the day for no reason at all. I wake up un a bad mood, I go to bed in a bad mood, and for no reason. MY LIFE ROCKS! I have a great job (well a good job) A wonderful house, two awesome dogs, a beautiful supportive wife that has given birth to the most amazing children, and yet....I can still be a jerk. But the difference between me and this asshole.....I re-evaluate my behavior. I regret my behavior. I fight my impulses, I work for change. I battle my demons. I try to be a thinking being rather than a reacting being. I try. I have remorse. I have regrets. Again, I evolution is slow... but I am evolving.

As for this guy...
and the many more just like him
I have approached people days after such conflicts. Made my apologise. Tried to pin it on a bad day. And you know each case I have never heard from any of these roadie fucks that they too thought it over. That I was right...drafting is dangerous....or passing without an audible is obnoxious and rude....whatever.

Sorry about my anger
I am working on that
these things take time
I am not a bad person, just very imperfect.

just some morning blogging as I sip my coffee
Grant is still asleep or perhaps he is finally asleep
and Dean is entertaining himself with some toys. His imagination has really expanded...

The other night after a glorious night drive through Rock Creek Park, Grant was asleep and Dean was excited. The moon was low, huge, and orange, and there were deer feeding all over the park. There was far too much for him to sleep on this drive. As we entered Mount Pleasant from Porter Street there was a gathering of police cars, a mix of both DC metropolitan and Park Police. I passed without giving it any thought. The next day the talk on the street was they found a body, a human head, perhaps the final remains of Chandra Levy.

I have yet to check the papers and missed the snippet on the news so I still do not know. Strange how these things no longer effect me. It is all too much common place to worry about.

Mt Pleasant

Rock Creek Park
more Rock Creek History/Info

Today at 1PM NPR (National Public Radio) is having a show on Spalding Gray
Not sure how that will fit into my work day, but am going to try and tune in at that time.

For anyone familiar with Spalding Gray and his work I am sure that this will be a treat. For those in the dark on who Spalding Gray is/was this may be your chance to catch up.

Check it out! NPR at 1PM today 3.10.04

Here are some archived pieces on NPR about Spalding Gray



The Funniest Man on Television!


Dean is now roughly two and a half. He knows his animals...I mean he really knows his animals. We are to a point where he is growing to know distinctions of different breeds of dogs and the different sex identifiers of various animals (ie. the male lion has a mane, the male deer with the antlers is a Buck, etc.) At an early age Dean as very interested in the computer, Dean's room was my office or was it my office was Dean's room....judging by the multicolored Crayola Crayons on the wall I guess it was Dean's room. He saw me on the computer and he could not keep his hands off the keyboard. He quickly displayed a set of keyboard shortcuts that changed settings I did not know the computer had, his use of the mouse was rough, but he could cause a fair amount of damage with that. So to keep him entertained on the computer at a young age we found some fun pages. As a new dad I knew nothing about any kids specific pages like so I just used some basic logic. We stumbled up in this Animal Noises page, we return back to it even years later.

With that said...
I better start learning some dinosuars or I am going to look pretty foolish.

Back to Bikes!

the commercial on this page is worth a look
I know nothing about these bikes
the prices all see quite reasonable
for many people who live in flat areas or plan to go no further than the corner store for a 40
or to the ice cream parlor around the corner
the cruiser is the perfect machine


off the top of my head I am going to try and list some books that I feel are must reads
some of which I really need to read again
some of which could be read in one sitting

1. The Little Prince
(if you figure it out, let me know, maybe I need to learn French as something may have been lost in the translation)
2. The Alchemist
(read it, it does not help explain life, but it may set you at ease that some things happen because that is just the course of life)
3. Lolita
(a wonderful book, a must read for all)
4. Geek Love
(a personal favorite among favorites)
5. Cold Mountain
(a cool love story, a chic book that men can get into, I have yet to see the movie, fear if may not paint the picture on the screen that I saw in my head)
6. anything by John Irving
7. anything by J.D. Salinger (since I think he only published three books under this name, he is an easy one to read the complete works, seek out 9 Stories)
8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
(read it again)
9. Something by Hemingway, any collection of short stories....The Old Man and the Sea...these may get you started...then you may go deeper
10. On the Road
(this and many of the other "Beat Poets" may be worth pursing, Bukowski or choose)

thought that it would take more than a minute to get a list of 10 must reads
there were others that came to mind
some New Age, but figured that I covered enough of that with The Alchemist, but feel free to read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
tried to stay free of too many sports related books, but Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, the book by Goran Kopp: My Everest Odyssey, books by the top athlete of your favorite sport are all worth a look
that is enough for now
back to work
got all sorts of stuff that I really should be doing
like making and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich



BLOG from a friend of SPALDING

News Article about the Death of Spalding Gray

he entertained
he enlightened
and he may have even inspired

I watched Swimming to Cambodia more times than I could count
Read several of his books and I have not read that many books
even saw him perform live at Wolftrap
he was an eccentric unique entertainer
he will be missed
there was not a cookie cutter used to create this man

the saddest part is that he dies leaving behind a family
depression may be part of the story
but we will never know what truly happened to cause the disappearance and death of Spalding Gray