Rants on Cycling and on Life


here is some history

from the perspective of Joe Breeze
another similar perspective
more of the SAME

here are some members of the Mountainbike Hall of Fame!
it is a great story
many of those people who were the founders are now the industry heads of today
as well as still being the leading designers
some are still stellar riders
keeping it real!
never losing the faith!

My Mountainbike History....
My first introduction to the mountainbike was from my brother. Marc was reading the scouting magazine Boy's Life and stumbled upon an article and called me into his room. His enthusiasm was clear, "this is the bike for you!" he said as he knew I had already been riding by British style 3 and 5 speeds on single track paths, off curbs, and through ditches. Paying the price and causing every nut and bold to rattle free, still sporting the classic fenders and rack with a milk crate bungee corded on the back to aid in the delivery of the now defunct Washington Star. With the magazine in front of me I looked at the pictures in amazement and allowed Marc to paraphrase the gist of the article (although I can read, for some reason I have always dodged it....not unlike swimming...sure I can swim, and I splash around, but don't expect to see me doing too many laps.) That concept of the mountainbike faded as soon as the magazine was put down. Then a lump of years after these two grade schoolers heard of this multi-geared machine I found myself in high school paging through a back of some cycling magazines with my friend Les. Les was convinced that if we got a handful of us together we could get a deal on some of these bikes. His budget was greater than mine and the others he had drawn into the mountainbike fantasy. Instead of buying that outrageously expensive 750.00 dollar bike I managed to find a Mongoose that suited my needs for under 400 bucks. That bike was going to give me pleasure and pain for years to come, I ended up breaking 7-10 of those things, each and everyone under warranty, never assembling the last free frame. Learning that I had to spend more money on bikes I stepped up and bought an SM600, a Classic Cannondale with a 26 inch front wheel and a 24 inch wheel in the back (this bike was still under 800 dollar, 1,200 may have been the industry average for the top of the line bike). I think that I bought if for the ascetic alone. For the first 15 years of riding mountainbikes I bought frames that were far too small for my 6'4" body, but I had some sort of BMX dream that I was going to be able to do table tops and ride long wheelies and do all that wild and wacky stuff....endos and 180's. Well, I could do some of that stuff, it was not my focus, but I did manage to do some of that stuff (never a table top barely even a bunny hop!), endos yes! sometimes on purpose....sometimes on accident, but for the most part I just liked to ride. And I rode everywhere all the time.
Mountainbiking was a hoot. We never trained, we just rode. Never put air in our tires, never put lube on our chain, we never tunned up our bikes, the wheels were always out of true and our brakes never stopped our bikes. Riding usually involved sets of sprints, rest, hang, chill, regroup, let the stragglers catch up, and then sprint again....
each person riding and racing for the front spot, stopping at each fork in the trail for each and everyone to take the turn and then forward and further. Helmets were less common than lycra shorts. It was just how it was done.
Then after college I planned a motorcycle trip cross country, well actually, I did not plan a trip, I bought an old KZ750, borrowed some panniers, loaded up some gear and headed west. The only real planning I did was to have Cannondale send a warranty replacement frame for the SM600 to a shop in Berkeley California rather than Cycles 90 on Solomons Island in Maryland not far from where I graduated from college.
I meandered across the country. It rained something like 9 of the 13 riding days that I took to get cross country. The motorcycle died in Chicago, caught fire in Wyoming, nearly threw a chain in Seattle (I had replaced the rear cog, the chain, but could not get the front cog off....this was after I removed some links from the chain in Wyoming borrowing a grinder on this guy's farm ((seems bikes and motorcycles are not completely similar, the shorter chain caused some dramatic wear to the cog/sprockets the teeth wore to be thin sharp pointed spikes rather than the thick dull rounded teeth that should meet within the chain link)) It was a glorious trip. The ride introduced me to parts of the country I had never seen before and have never seen since. Like I took a thousand steps forward in my personal evolution, I had grown.
When I arrive in Cali I got connected with my friend Gibby in Berkeley, he was living in a room with a family that owned two shops in downtown Berkeley, The Square Wheel. I was able to buy a bike at a deal, sell off the frame and parts I would not need, had some wheels built with some rims I had won in a race back east and found myself in Marin California the birthplace of the mountainbike. Got myself a place to stay in Mill Valley (that is a BLOG in itself), and rode the trails of Mt Tam everyday. It was epic. All taken for granted, as that was just how my life was going, but looking back it was epic. I was riding a fully rigid aluminum mountain bike scoffing at those hitting the scene with their suspension forks and their clipless pedals.
The stay was short, was in California for maybe 5-6 months and then headed off for Colorado. On the cross country motorcycle trip I had paid a visit to some friends in Boulder and Aspen and felt the pull of the larger mountains and the sport of snowboarding (having only been on backhills and golf course and never seen a chair life in operation before) Sold the motorcycle for the same price I bought it for, 4 hundred bucks. Flew back east, took everything I owned, filled up my beat up convertible rabbit and headed back out west. Again with little or no plan. Once in Colorado my life was mixture of beer and pool with many hung over rides; snowboards in the winter and mountainbikes in the summer, but always hungover, very very hung over.

That is the basic history. Well, just the skeleton. The details of it all are more interesting than the basic facts, but, maybe getting this on the page will dredge up some lost memories. Something to BLOG about later!


so I was reading the COMMENTS on SOOZ's Blog Page we had a little back and forth about encounters with other commuters....

many years ago
many many years ago
before "back in the day" as I was too young to even know or care what statements could possibly mean
as I was a child and everyday was "the day" especially if there was no school
I was hanging with Kevin Fitzpatrick. We shared a love for bicycles and a hate for the 'cool' kids at school. Our friendship and bond may have been based off the fact that we were not accepted by the 'in' crowd. Thus creating a deep bond and lunch every day for 7 years with Kevin Fitzpatrick, Bobby Portwood, and Helder Perrera. Outside of school Kevin and I had few other friends, but we had each other. We used to go for long bike rides with our fishing poles strapped to our bikes. Although we did not know it then, but we had a great Zen understanding of "the journey is the destination." Each day that we rode our bikes and went fishing was as good as the last, with no great measure or comparision for how many fish were caught or how many miles were ridden. One day Kevin proposed that rather than heading along the C&O Canal to go fishing that we ride downtown to visit his dad and have lunch. Without giving it much thought or even passing this idea by my parents, I accepted and the next day we rode downtown. It was a blast! We rode through traffic cutting lanes, taking all sorts of risks. Finally we got downtown to his dad's office. We got a tour around the whole CBS New offices at 20th and M (where I now work) During the tour Kevin pointed out the motorcycles and said that he wanted to be a motorcycle courier when he grew up (when I was in college I bounced back and forth between freelance bicycle messenger and motorcycle courier for CBS News) After the tour and a quick lunch we headed back to the streets. We pointed our bikes in all sorts of different directions, just following the flow of traffic. As we raced through the downtown streets we kept encountering all these guys on bikes. As we passed each of these cyclists they got frustrated and picked up the pace, which only caused us to go faster. (later I would learn that these guys were bicycle messengers) It amused me that they would go slow and then speed up when passed. It seemed to me that having been caught, had it been a race, they had already lost.....

this continues today
I ride my bike
I pass a cyclist on the road or the trail
and they wake up
the step up the pace
and try to race
I try to let my competitiveness to let them go
and work on my own thing
after all
they do not know how far I have gone and how much further I need to go
racing me for two blocks
and pulling over
that is hardly a race

back to work
want to finish my day
and see if there are any JOKERS out there that want to race me and my 32X17 single
(just like the goober on the road bike yesterday after work...I did my own thing...he tried to hang....and looked like a geek in a peacock outfit on a 4,000 dollar bike)

Life is very strange. In many ways life is not quite what I had thought it was going to be like, but I am adjusting just fine. In life it seems that we have some sort of predestined fate. Our life takes a course and we can only guide that path so far. Some people stumble upon their course earlier than others, while some meander through life never finding the right path or that may be the path that life has given them, not sure. (I am typing and thinking on the fly here...cut me some slack) I see the body organ the HEART as being a metaphor for life!
The human heart has certain potential. Some people are born with a strong heart, others a weak heart, and there are those who have the genetic propensity for heart illness later in life. How we live our lives effects how our heart develops. If we choose to eat well and exercise, then our heart prospers. But those who choose to eat all of the fatty foods, too much red meat, smoke cigarettes, and never exercise end up limiting the potential of their heart to develop or perform as strong and efficently as it can be. Now, it gets more complicated....someone can live a reckless life constantly treating their body wrong and never taking good care of their heart and live a long life with no heart conditions, while an elite athlete who takes care and concern for their health and fitness can drop dead of a heart attack at 50, perhaps genetic potential? not sure....maybe this is one of those cases where "bad things happen to good people or when good things happen to bad people" just like life....there is a path....and you can guide it slightly....but just because you eat right does not mean that you will grow to be as tall as you want. You have a genetic potential, your life has said that you can grow to this maximum height. So if you eat right, live well, treat your body kindly then you may reach your genetic potential...while malnutrition, lack of exercise, and bad habits such as smoking can limit your ability to reach your genetic potential as in a persons height. We have all heard that smoking can stunt our growth, in fact I think I still tell that to ever adult person under 6 feet that I see smoking a cigarette..."smoking can stunt your growth" (bet they never heard that one before!)
now to my point
the heart is a metaphor for life
and well
what is my point
gotta take a call
back to this in a bit
was trying to wrap this into a rant on mental health and mental illness
no I am not a Phd
as a matter of fact I am not even that bright, but I do have a BLOG page which gives me a right to rant on any topic I wish. EVEN IF I DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT!
those are my credentials
and I am sticking with them

back to blogging
back from lunch

along with the thought of life
our predestined fate in life (telos) and our metaphor for our predestined health states of the heart or height
there is the notion of mental health
Mental Health not unlike the previously mentioned quailities in that it has some predetermined qualities. Some people have a genetic predisposition towards certain mental health issues; as in depression. But if mental illness is viewed as a sickness like cancer we can understand it better (at least for this discussion.) There are things in life that can act to ENABLE our mental illness (consider it a mental cancer.) The earlier on in life that the symptoms are recognized and treated the better off the person may be. There are aspects of lifestyle that may act the prevent the growth of this mental cancer. A stable lifestyle with routine is more likely to aid in the battle against the growth of this illness. The illness that is just a part of the person's life/personality is trying to grow and can be inhibited. Lifestyle such as fitness can effect the chemical balances of a person's mind. Lifestyle such as drug use can act to enable the development of the illness. Certain recreational drugs can have psycho active effects that can be very detrimental to someone battling mental illness; sometimes it can aid to open PANDORA'S BOX. Then the more basic drugs such as alcohol can be a depressant and assist at a slower level. Along with drinking and drugs are the aspects of late nights, hang overs, slow mornings waking up, and the depression like state that goes along with being hung over. That can not possibly be a positive contribution to someone with hints of mental illness. Perhaps this is the nurturning of the illness that the illness is seeking, so that the part may by chance become the whole.
Again...these are unfounded statements, written without any research, backing, or knowledge. Just a BLOGGER ranting on his lunch break. But I do feel that some of these thoughts to be true. Peer groups can allow or fight the illness in a friend. As in the recent death of Spalding Gray, the cause of death is unknown, but all the pieces of this puzzle point to suicide. Perhaps as he went into depression instead of people reaching out to him, they said. "oh, that is just Spalding, he is doing one of his monologue things...he is our gathering more material...he is just being the neurotic artist that he is." Rather than saying, "Spalding man you need help!" I hae known people to die of drug overdoses, people to commit suicide, and others to let their lives drift off into madness. But I would like to think that I have in each case stepped forward and looked them in the eye and said, "man you need help!"
They may have denied their illness. Some have lied to me throwing it back in my face. Others have come back to thank me later.
What is my point?
No real point.
Just trying to sort some stuff out in my head.
As I ride I get these ideas in my head. The longer I pedal, deeper the arguments go. Then I try to revive the argument in BLOG form. Cycling can be a meditation. Problems can be solved as I pedal along on my bike. I have thought about traveling with a tape recorder and recording ideas and break through as they come to me. Cause after the bike is parked and the sweat covered clothes are removed many of these thoughts are lost. This is a case where I tried to revive some of those ideas. And well....I am not so sure that they came out so clearly.

At times the BLOG is forced. I have time to BLOG right now. I am not BLOGGING because the idea is there, I am BLOGGING because the time is available. Perhaps some time away will bring back the thoughts and I can make this all a bit more clear.


Bicycling, BLOGGING, and BLOGGING about bicycling has introduced me to a world of people, many of which I consider my friends. If I read their blog, get an email, or receive a comment from them I feel as if I have spoken to them. There is a picture in my head of who they are and what they stand for. Much of this information is found through their writings, but some of it is inferred, most often inferred incorrectly. Sort of like seeing a person in my daily travels and putting a voice to their face. This has happened to me many times with other city cyclist, some I nod to others go my without a grin, yet I manage to try and create an identity in my head of who they are in life other than on the bike. That guy still lives at home with his parents, his room is still decorated as it was when he was a child with pictures of Alf on the wall and model airplanes on the shelves or she looks like she is riding her bike home to her Feminist Vegan group house in Columbia Heights and does pottery and Yoga before bed instead of watching TV then I tend to take it one step further. These people are given a voice. Then if by chance I meet that person, perhaps at a convenience store or riding the same pace along side of them and there is some interaction I get to hear that voice. That voice is never right. They have a southern accent I never anticipated, or a rough deep soulful voice of a jazz singer when I anticipated a high pitched squeal....then with this information I have more insight into their true identity thus washing away my fantasy creations (I get to start all over again, usually headed down the wrong path, again.)

Okay, I am a MADMAN! My son Dean who is not even 3 has already told me so.

Today I made the acquaintance of another cyclist who also shares a love for BLOGGING. From what I gather he lives in California, has been cycling for over 30 years, and is a Republican. I guess California has Republicans, after all their Governor is a Republican, even Sonny Bono was a Republican (his wife who took his place is also a Republican), the two Senators may be Democrats while the House seems to be split pretty even, but there are bicycist that are Republican? Now that really opened my eyes! I had read a variety of his postings and found some interesting and valuable information, but when I dug further I learned that not only is he a Republican, but he is a proud Republican! Very strange A REPUBLICAN ON A BICYCLE? I THOUGHT THAT ALL REPUBLICANS DROVE THE BIGGEST GAS GUZZLING SUV THAT THE MARKET WOULD PROVIDE I WAS WRONG!
Guess I had a foolish misconception that all cyclists were Tree Hugging Greenies (or in California they were known as Brownies as in Jerry Brown) who eat TOFU and spend their weekends at craft shows or helping the homeless.
Well, I once again made a false leap filling in the blank. The bicycling blogger (aka Kiril Kundurazieff) who had joked with me about being a mountainbiker but chose to accept me inspite of my riding on dirt has opened my eyes and has shown that cyclists cover a wide spectrum...
There are the commuters, the racers, the family out on the weekend ride, there are the group riders, then the roadies, the mountainbikers ((within this there are the single speeders, the free riders, the downhillers, the endurance riders, the XC racers, etc)) the person who rides on nice days, the person who rides on all days, the cyclist that also owns a car, and the cyclist who would never own a car, the list continues. But within the list there are also sub groups. Many of us are family people, we hold jobs, we are members of the community, and valuable members of society that all share a love for the bicycle. Some of us are Republican and others are Democrat, some may call themselves Anarchists while others just don't care. We are within a unique subculture the as cyclists. We share a some things in common, but not everything.
I was pleased that Kiril was entertained by some of my rants.
I was also entertained and enlightened by a wide variety of his posts and links.
We may not agree on all political issues, but we will certainly agree on some.

hope that Kiril has a good sense of humor and does not take this the wrong way
that is
if he bothered to read this far
it is all tongue and cheek and in the name of fun
just trying to have fun and extend my lunch break so far that I get fired from my job
actually, that would be a bad thing!
back to work

maybe more blogging later
I better email Kiril and warn him of this post


lets see if I can dig up another anecdote from Europe 1991
not sure if anyone read the last one other than my touring partner Rob-

brb (internet geek speak for Be Right Back)
dioobantgts (joel speak for Dean Is Out Of Bed And Needs To Go To Sleep)

but lost all my stories to Dean
thought it would warm me up
but it wore me out
I am going to sit down in front of the other idiot box
well I would
but dean just got up again
he is JAZZED UP!

Washington DC is a major city with a down home feel. Sort of like Mayberry with more people.
Having lived here for as long as I have I have a slight social advantage (or disadvantage if you are antisocial) over some people. I run into people all over town all the time. When at lunch, on the trails in the woods, shopping at the market, or just walking down the sidewalk I can encounter people. The meetings have grown to be fewer and further between, but that reflects back on my homebody lifestyle. As a semi-pro drinker with near Olympic barfly status I developed a great number of connections and contacts and almost learned to shoot pool. Okay well, basically a great number of superficial friends. With adult life I now as I have a variety of responsibilities (wife, kids, dogs, and 9-5 straight job) my response to these familiar faces on the street has changed. I no longer feel compelled to shout out across the street, roam across the restaurant, or roll up on someone on my bike. It just seems that it is not as important as it once was. That is not to say that I do not give a wave or a nod, but I do not have the time and energy to 'talk up' any and every person I once knew. This is doing everyone a favor as I can be a bit of a "chatty kathy." After all, who really wants to hear about my life, sure people ask, but do they really want to know about the wonders of fatherhood. How I am going through a long list of very powerful emotions. The bond between me and Dean has hit new levels, currently he is sick, and it effects me. The empathy, the compassion, the symbiotic relationship, it is all a very fantastic experience. Grant is growing in front of me and there are marvels of life and nature right in front of me, but the actual bond has not really started to grow, yet I wait to experience all of those "firsts" for the third time. His first roller coaster ride will give us both a thrill, his first sled ride with cause both of our stomachs to drop and we will not care about the cold as the fun will overwhelm us, well...until it is all too late and he is crying with blue lips and icy red hands. Dean showed me the moon. It had been there all along, but I think somehow I forgot to appreciate it. But now I look for it each day, and appreciate each and every phase. Grant will show me these things through his eyes and I will grow to understand them all over again. As I get to be a father Dean will get to be an older brother. Ah, siblings...the joy and the pain. A blog for another day.

Enough babbling, I see an old friend who has not heard me update them with information that they neither asked for nor care to hear.

keep in mind when I write this that I am a social addict! (which has always been a bit of a hassle since I don't like people, but I need the interaction, a painful paradox) so don't think that I have gone COLD TURKEY on saying hey to people. just last week I interrupted Stevie G while he was having lunch with his co-working peeps at the Vietamese restaurant and then the next day, yes the next day, I sat myself down with Luke from many years ago at Big Wheel Bikes and interrupted his girl watching!



One Spring Break during college my brother Marc and I drove down to Florida in our beige four door diesel Rabbit. Actually, we drove down to Florida several times in that fuel efficient machine that lacked air conditioning, whose radio did not play louder than the engine at highway speed and had a top speed of 65mph. That is 65 miles per hour with the wind at your back while going downhill. On this one particular trip there was the usual mix of various Gulf of Mexico beaches, retirement community poolside tanning, and an occasional night out while trying to meet grandma's curfew. One afternoon I napped in the twin bed beside Marc as he read. It was a hot uncomfortable midday nap. I woke from my nap with one of those jet propelled leaps that reflects the final actions of a dream, usually a nightmare. Marc saw this panicked leap and in his Mr. Spock Vulcan way asked about the specific details of the dream and how they corresponded with the physical behavior that he had just witnessed. So I told him...."it was all very vague. no real details of anything other than that I was riding my bike. it was not the perspective of seeing me ride a bike, but rather the perspective one sees from the bike, even more so like the perspective one would see through a video camera as filmed by a person riding a bike. riding along in a casual manner, nothing happening to cause any danger or to evoke any fear, then when all of a sudden my perspective shifted from the world around me to my stem and handlebars and then the front wheel. It was the start of an ENDO; you know...a POLISH WHEELIE! the earth in front of me had become this white mass. That mass engulfed my front wheel, halting my bike's progress, yet laws of motion kept me hurling forward. Flying over the handlebars and out of the bed. Ending with one of those questions....If you die in your dream, do you die in real life? I almost bumped my head in my dream and almost bumped my head in real life as these were times when helmets were not worn (either in bed or on the bicycle)"

That was it. No real explanation of the the story. Not any deep meaning. And no great discussion. It was a basic meaningless dream. We laughed about how silly I looked and maybe even discussed dreams and dreaming. That is all a distant memory that is not so significant that I can recall. The rest of our Spring Break went along as each Spring Break prior and each Spring Break after. We pissed off our grandmother and she was happy that we left, we got a massive sunburn on one of the first days in FLorida and our tans started to peel as we crossed into South Carolina and were gone by the time we passed through North Carolina, and most importantly....there had not been any Spring Break romance.

The rest of the college semester went along as uneventful as the rest, or perhaps as eventful as the rest. I can not recall. Right now the "glory days" are forgotten, it would take a case of Natty Boh (National Bohemian) or Milwalkee's Best to help me to recall what college was all about. After the semester ended I headed back to my parent's home in Bethesda and enthusiastically got back in the swing of summer with my summer job, bicycle messenger.

One hot summer day headed back from work I linked up with fellow B-CC graduate Scott Llewellyn. He was back for the summer as well and also working as a messenger. We rode fast through traffic, splitting lanes, running lights, and taking all sorts of unnecessary risks that I still take now. There was a bond and their was a rivalry, we each rode hard, yet were at a relaxed enough pace to carry on a bit of a conversation. As we climbed the Conneticut Avenue hill at Van Ness UDC Scott recommended that we take a left, as his parent' s house was a tad further west than mine, it was not out of the way so I followed along. As we meandered down a side street with less traffic our pace dropped and we put more emphasis on the conversation. (which more than likely revolved around topics like...."where are you drinking tonight?" or "have you seen this girl or that girl?") ahead the road was blocked off with those construction horses with the darkness activated flashing light, well you see less of them now, but they were commonplace many years ago. We split the horses and rode on the textured concrete that would be the sublayer of road beneath the black asphalt that had yet to be laid. The road continued with a pattern of breaks in the road, some cross streets still being active, then another set of reflective construction barriers with the darkness activated blinking light. As we passed through the last set of barriers I felt my momentum slow. I looked forward and saw my stem and handlebars. Then my front wheel. The earth in front of me was white and engulfed my front wheel, I started flying over the handlebars. Just like the dream. Only it was not a dream. I tried to get up, but my balance was off and my legs were like jello. I stepped forward and stumbled again. Had I hit my head, had my whole sense of balance been thrown off? I noticed Scott was laughing, then a jogger was laughing, I looked at Scott and saw he was covered in wet concrete, I looked at myself and saw that I was covered in wet concrete. The laughter came on fast and heavy as my mind put together the actions that had just taken place. I stepped forward to brace myself as the laughter grew stronger, each footstep went deep into the freshly poured concrete. We had both gone over the handlebars landed unhurt with no damage to our bikes. It was a scene from some bad Disney film that was never made. Things like this do not happen in real life.

Then there was the memory of the dream. It never explained itself. It never became clear. Why a preminition of this?

back to this in a few
would like to proof read this if I have a second
hate ranting on
and not having it appear the least bit readable


time for bed
good night

well first I need to ride my bike home
and well
there are a number of bars that I pass on the way home
we will see if I go straight home

only the future knows

sure could use a glass of red wine right now!