Rants on Cycling and on Life


When do I have the time to BLOG?
That is a question that people often ask....
well, we all make time for the things that are important to us
honestly....I have creative BLOG ideas all the time
but since my time is not always my own
I BLOG when I have time
not when I want to BLOG
thus causing the BLOG to be as much a compulsion as an exercise
I need to start writing topics down and BLOGGING about them later

gotta roll
dogs need to be walked
they have not seen the outside world in 12 hours
so this is clearly not a good time to BLOG

Cyclist Killed early Friday Morning...
the news was more than likely more about the traffic than the death
maybe I should stop playing chicken with assholes
and my rapid fire finger....that may get me shot by a gun slinging asshole

Run Against Bush has a cycling event...

I am not sure if I can make it
as the deck project is still priority one
but would love to tow Dean in the trailer for this event

Sunday, August 1st - 10 AM
Bike against Bush!
-Join us for our first monthly bike against Bush!
-Meet in Dupont Circle for either a 10- or 25-mile ride through Rock Creek
-Bring: water, helmet (required), and wear your Run Against Bush shirts or
get a *NEW* Bike Against Bush shirt - available for sale at the ride
-Email Karen at karen AT with questions.


Football vs. Cycling: Why compare?

Check out this article from some joker in the Midwest.

I sent him an email saying basically this....

You know nothing about sports.
Your time would be better spent delivering papers rather than writing for them.
No need to say any more.

this article was brought to my attention by a Velo News article

that is not me
that is mike
mike is far more handsome than I

Doping: Performance Enhancing Drugs (aka cheating)
This whole cheating thing has been going on for quite some time, but it seems to be more and more of an issue these days. A few years ago there was the scandal of Mark McGuire and his use of an unbanned substance...then the top track and field athletes...during the tour the French were making accusations about Lance. It blows my mind. How do the athletes rationalize this? Am I so niave? Is it because all of the top athletes use these performance enhancing substances that makes it so that no one feels that it is wrong?

Someone help me out here

Check out Todd Well's journal entry about this topic...

Velo News Article

and Virgin Cola?

Marion Jones always in the news with this stuff.

I guess I could link on forever with this stuff. Tyler "dopey" Hamilton. The LeMond accusations.
You name it. The topic is hot as the Tour winds down and the Olympics approach.

another Velo News article with links to various PRO FOOTBALL DOPERS

Blair Boards: A Project More Scary than the Blair Witch
Not sure how this all happened...
the chronology is not clear in my head, but I will see what memories rise to the surface. ..

it may have been a period in my life where I was still working hard on find an alternate way to work that did not really feel like work. so rather than making good money in an office (at this point I had never had an office job, that did not happen till my early 30s). I joined forces with Jason Farrell and went to the Blair Farm in Poolesville Maryland to work in a barn making snowboards.

Before any of this goes any further there should be a little background...
Bob Blair is an old school skater/snowboarder with some serious talent for catching air. He talks slow and he rides fast. Not sure where the money comes from, but the Blair boys have some serious to burn....and they all burn baby burn. Bob has a sorted past, but who doesn't. I have heard tales of his old school past, most of which have hit local folk lore status, all of which are true, some may be blown out of proportion, but the core of the message is still true. Bob rode with a colorful cast of characters that called themselves The Toke Team. These guys were the like Hells Angels on Skateboards. It was all about living large and crashing hard. Adrenalin junkies long before the word EXTREME came into vogue. Each individual member was more like a cartoon character than a real person, these guys would have made a great white Fat Albert and the Gang, but none of them were fat. (Wiggy, Tobin, Puker, Hayman, Bob Blair aka The name a few...was Micro an official member?.) This is enough background...fill in the blank...use your imagination....on with the story.

Somewhere in the early/middle 90s I heard that Bob was looking for some people to work his new snowboarding manufacturing plant. Okay, it was a crusty old barn with a used snowboard press and a handful of tools. For some reason Jason Farrell and I decided to take on this project. Before you know it we were commuting from our perspective Mount Pleasant group houses in downtown DC to rural Poolesville Maryland in Jason's '67 Cadillac limo to work in Bob Blair's sweat shop. We were the 'jack of all trades, masters of none.' OSHA and EPA had nothing on this place. There were no goggles, no earplugs, no respirators, and no ventilation. It was dream that never left the drool covered pillow case or the unchanged sheets. I recall our favorite part of the snowboard building process was gluing the rails. The glue was a two step process, glue and accelerator; ZIP KICKER. Man, put those two together and you could turn Einstein and Edison into Beavis and Butthead. Man, oh, Man! That stuff could change our moods. Jason would be all grumpy about us working yet another week without getting a paycheck living off his Exxon card and my maxed out Visa card and I would say...."lets go glue some rails" And bam, smiles...giggles...and infantile humor. It was a short lived work scenario. We were not model employees and Bob was far from a model employer.....the product was shoddy and the industry was booming. There seemed to be no place for the Blair Board with its original, yet ghetto graphics adorning an irregular and imperfect product.
We arrived late and left early each day. When we were not making boards we were jumping on the trapoline, taking turns on the brakeless two stroke dirtbike, cutting wood with the chainsaw, or throwing rocks for Jason's housemate Russell's brindle Pit Bull Jake-Dog. It was an episode of denial. Not time well spent. An interesting time, but not the most productive time. Jake-Dog did manage to get laid for his first and only time ever. Jake got a piece and then threw up. We logged a number of hours and never got paid for them (always clocking out before we went on our white trash adventures.) Bob has his blurred vision and an unintelligible rational for never giving us all of our money. We each walked our separate directions angry and bitter. In the end I try to keep my heart rate down by rationalizing things....I should have known better than to think that anything productive would have come from working under someone as sketchy as bob blair. I can only blame myself.

It was a colorful time, not an entirely productive time, yet colorful just the same. The memories are BLURRED as are any memories of Bob Blair. His farm with its 200plus year old house and the parties that were thrown there can be summed up in one word; Decadent. Well, make that two words Drunken and Decadent. Okay, use three or four, sure, use as many as you want. His farm became known as "The Compound." A variety of B-Town skaters lived there. The Compound did infact become Waco East with Bob Blair as the long haired messiah. Those that lived there could draw a more accurate picture than I can. That farm was just a chapter in the history of the local skaters and the local skate scene. A scene that has disbanded, yet still has chapters written all over the country and perhaps all over the world.

Thrasher Magazine
There has to be some history of The Toke Team somewhere...
the Annadale Ramp in the early 80's and then the steal coated ramp at Cedarcrest in Manasas VA are a large part of East Coast Skate History
Ramptech is a completely different company that I also worked for. Mike Mapp, aka Micro, was an amped and angry skater with a vision. Skating was dormant, yet he believed. Mike could have been doing custom home building, yet he wanted to build skateboard ramps. In this case a person's dreams came true. But the format was completely differnent. Mike was driven and dedicated. He knew there were things that he could not do, he occassionally listened to advice and occassionally used it. And BAM! It all paid off.
I think I will try to give Mike a call.

sam, sam, the fruit stand man
after graduating college I moved into a small apartment in Adams Morgan with fellow St. Mary's College graduate Sam Jannota
we were out of college and unsure what to do with our newly acquired adult status
I took the natural/easy route and leaped right into my summer/winter jobs of years past that I loved so much; messenger work
I worked a mixture of commission work on my bicycle and set wage work on my motorcycle
the bicycle stuff was the basic delivery and filing stuff
while the motorcycle stuff was occasionally a bit more unique
there were people to tail, history to view, and fat pay checks to collect
well, honestly, most of the time it was a Snooze....a great place to relax after a night in the bars
sam on the otherhand was not sure what to do with his time and adult options

I am not entirely clear how he decided upon this job
it really worked in the short term
sam became the fruit stand man at 17th and L Street
it was not an easy job with its early hours for fruit pickup and preworkday set up
but it had its perks
sam with his calm cool hippie persona and his brown bedroom eyes soon found that women from all over the surrounding blocks wanted his fruit
this fruit stand was the gateway to his dating scene
in an age long before Sam had a personal goldmine!

our stay together in Adams Morgan was short lived
sam was being torn in various directions
late nights at the bars and early mornings at the fruit stands were wearing him out
there was an opening at a group house with some musician friends of his that he had to take

I moved to a group house in Columbia Heights and Sam moved to a group house in College Park

we all missed having the fruit stand hook up when he was gone
as well as the sound of his keyboards slamming and entertaining a post bar crowd at 2am

I have fond or perhaps humorous memories of our shared space
and our having to learn how to coexist in the adult world
the basic group house dynamics with two rather than more
I would paint a picture of it
but just imagine Felix Unger and Oscar Madison a few years younger, never married, never divorced, and not quite sure how to balance the different personalities

it has been a decade since I spoke with Sam Sam the Fruit Stand Man
but I did try to "reach out and touch him"
talked with his wife a few times
caught up with her
we shared a giggle
talked about Sam, life, and parenthood
learned that Sam is still living the simple life
trying to follow the path of "quality of life"
still playing music
father and husband
and he may even have a dog or two
he not unlike me married a lisa
lisas are the best


Peter Pan
Peter Pan is alive in many of us. For some us us it shows on the outside, while others it is on the inside, with Jason Farrell it exists both inside and out....entirely in a good way as he was mature in ways at the age of 17 that I have not been able to achieve at 37. We don't speak often enough these days so when I got this image in email correspondence from him today I was not sure if this photo was taken then or now....a closer look at the equipment and that the skater in the background is a woman (not a betty brings this image to the modern day, clearly more women skating now than then)

I will try to link some of his stuff
he is an artist, a musician, and a counter culture jock
his cliff jumping at great falls was always artful
(and humbling to watch)

jason is a fine artist who paints and sculpts
oh, and I maker
he is also a graphic artist whose work dates back to Fanzine ads for the Sunshine House in the '80s and many beautifully designed albums and cds for Discord Records
here is a great interview
and his music....GOOGLE it yourself
I am tired of making links
and feel that I best go to bed name dropping here
Jason Farrell is not famous
he may never be famous
he will always be an artist
he will always be pumped
he will always inspired people

here is a RETISONIC self directed video

A Bar A Ranch:  Wyoming 1991
It was a year after graduating from college and I was not sure what direction to take my life. So with very little planning I plotted a cross country trip via motorcycle. I had a small Suzuki GS55o sport bike that I felt was too small for my gorrilla body not to mention a cross country tour so I tracked down a friend selling an old Kawasaki KZ750 for 400 bucks. The price was right although the motorcyle did not roll or run when I bought it, but John Reardon was confident that it would run and go. With very little effort Reardon got it running. John was a good friend and a good person to have around, he may sleep with your girlfriend, but other than that he was a real stand up guy. It turned out that things with the old KZ were not quite as easy as we planned, he may have gotten the bike running, but there were sublties that he could not diagnose, things that would not be fixed after a trip to local motorcycle shop whose name I have purposely blanked out (thieves-R-us rings a bell.) Those same issues would recur having the motorcycle die just outside of Chicago where I was then passed to another Thieves-R-Us in suburban Illinois not far from my uncle's house.
The trip was planned loosely around a path zig-zagging around the states with stopping points with various friends and family. I had already been through Chicago, St. Louis, various parts of wild and wonderful Colorado before I settled in for a week with Rob Hardesty at the A Bar A Ranch in southern Wyoming not far from the Colorado border. Rob was spending the summer working as a ranch hand at some sort of western fantasy island. It was a fun little place.  In his time away from work we rode mountain bikes, shot pool, tried to ride horses, and strolled around the ranch watching the rich white visitors live out their fantasies shooting skeet, fly fishing, riding horses across the plains, and eating beans by the campfire.
After a week of relaxing in awe and envy of Rob's summer dream job it was time to leave. ROb treated me to a tank of gas from the ranch pump and I was off. I started my engine and let it warm off before I pulled away on a long dirt road on that high Wyoming plain. Then just as I was ready to take off I realized I had left my tooth brush in his multi resident cabin. With toothpaste, a faucet, and a mirror in front of me I figured I would brush my teeth real quick. As I brushed my pearly whites I heard Rob's voice in the distance, "Joel, your motorcycle is on fire." It was odd, Rob's voice was in a June Clever , "Ward, it is time for dinner" sort of way.  Then I heard it again, "Joel, your motorcycle is on fire." Ah, that Rob is such a kidder I thought to myself. Then on the third mention of this motorcycle being on fire I went running out the door. This time his tone was more with question mark than exclamation, but as it had not been funny the first or the second time, well, then on the third time it must mean that MY MOTORCYCLE IS ON FIRE!
I ran out and saw 4 foot flames engulfing my tank. I thought to myself, what to do? what to do? Although I knew that sand may kill the engine, I through dirt and sand on the bike. Between each toss of sand I put my forearm in front of my face to block the eminent explosion. Then seconds later someone rushed out with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.

My emotions were mixed. Was my cross country trip over? Was I to be stranded on this western fantasy island? would that be so bad? do I have any marketable skills on a ranch? (no.)
Things settled down. I thanked Rob's friend and coworker for putting out the fire. We accessed what had happened. The tank had been filled to the brim. When I went inside to get the tooth brush I put the motorcycle on its side stand. At this point gas slowly dripped out of the tank from the gas cap. Each drop splashed along side of the spark plugs, the fumes caught fire, and the excess dripping gas burned and so did my motorcycle. With laughter and awe I figured I would see if the motorcyle started up. With the turn of a key and a push of a button the motorcycle fired right up. I turned it off and took off the tank to access the internal damage. Some wires had been scorched, but nothing a little electrical tape could not fix. With the wires taped up I was back on my motorcycle and headed to Seattle. An hour or so into the trip I felt that the motorcycle was running smoother than before. Those issues that the thieves-R-Us in Northern VA and suburban Illinois could not be fixed were all cured by the fire. So in the end the fire was a good thing.

I remember standing in Washington State looking at the Paciffic ocean then looking over my shoulder and thinking.....that was not so hard....why did I not do that sooner
you know what..I have not done it since
driven cross country
flown cross country
but have not ridden a motorcycle cross country
I think the bike will be the next cross country trip that is not in a plane

It took a little over a month for me to get across the country
if I remember correctly it took about 11 travel days
it is a faint memory, but I think it rained for 8 of those days
it was raining the day I left, I remember that sunday morning
putting on some rain gear and getting on the bike
my housemates at 1211 Girard wondering why I did not wait till the rain stopped
I felt I had waited long enough
riding a motorcycle in the rain sucks

back to work
lunch is over
hope to proof and edit this story in a bit

My favorite movies from my later years in High School (graduated in 85)
Classics then
Classics now
2.Mad Max/Road Warrior
3. DOA; The Sex Pistols first and only tour of America
(footage of Billy Idol in Gen X, he was actually really cool, and his music rocked)
4. The Hunger
5. The Duran Duran videos


Take a SKATE down memory lane.....
This page is epic, even if epic is more a word from my early 90's snowboarding days in Breckenridge than a word to describe my experiences of the 70's.  The word EPIC seemed like it was the answer everyday. If in DC the trademark question is "what do you do" then in the ski town's trademark question is "so, did you get out today?" and the textbook answer..."yes, it was epic!" Just the same this page has images of skateboards from the early 70's. The images of the metal trucks blows my mind. Just how I remembered them! to do some more surfing.....surfing down memory lane
(web surfing that is)

Went looking for the Sunshine House. Thought something would come up. Maybe a write up about the local history of Bethesda. But nothing. Totally empty. Sort of sad. Something with such history. A great local contribution..lost and gone forever? It was a classic business failure, grew too big too fast....had they stayed smaller they would have been prime for a much more prosperous life span as the local economy had begun to prosper and skating was yet to grow to its mainstream popularity of today. I am sure they still have their Ocean City Maryland location, but the Bethesda location could have easily been their bread and buter. ((yet not as sad as the Windsurfing Unlimited story.....they guy who bought it (it was East of Maui at this point) drove it into the ground. That place was a potential gold mine; ironically the Windsurfer/Skateboarder/Snowboarder existed in a new building strip mall where the Sunshine House once stood. New concrete poured smoothly where the wax once decorated the sidewalk. there is still a Windsurfing Unlimited store in Annapolis. The Windsurfing Unlimited location was in a residential house down the street from where I grew up. I used to cut their lawn. They always wanted to pay me in t-shirts.))

gotta roll
can't risk waking grant


it is morning and I am at work
thought I might do some searching for more info on this topic

coming up with nothing in the GOOGLE on Sunshine House
just a piece of forgotten history

Ocean City Maryland....Ocean Bowl

I was never much of a skater....these things take time. My time was being spent elsewhere. Too busy playing soccer, volleyball, and running (and of course some cycling, which was actually just bike riding back then) to be able to actually gain any skill on the skate. If it were not for the 6'4" Tony Hawk I would try to use my height and center of gravity as an excuse. But, it all comes down to time. I never invested the time. Most of my skating was about getting around town, hanging out, and having fun. My fondest memories of skating are with Rob Hardesty (the same guy I tour Europe with on bikes) We use to go all over downtown DC in traffic down heavily traversed roads, running lights, hanging on for dear life as speeds grew so fast that there was no slowing down, there was no stopping, and there was no jumping off, and there was no escaping the inevitable crash; the best we could hope for is that we don't get hit and we can slow down when the road flattens out. Better than going down Wisconsin Ave into Georgetown or back toward Maryland at Tenleytown was riding the carless parking garages in Downtown Bethesda. We use to do all sorts of grinds and rock and rolls on the heavily painted curbs. Then we would run up the stairs and race down the ramped garage doing high speed power slides wearing down our Buck99 gardening gloves, which I most certainly stole from my dad's shed. The pinnacle performance of the parking garage had to be the catamaran.  As goofy as it may appeared, and not at all pleasing to the uptight homophobe, the catamaran was the coolest thing you could do in a parking garage, well, without a girl. It was the fastest and the funniest way to get from the top of the garage to the bottom.
The catamaran is hard to picture and even harder to describe, but I will try.  It takes two riders, each rider sits on their own board and puts their feet on the other person's board, one foot on each side. then they hold hands, yes, hold hands. Things start off slowly, a few pushes at the ground bellow and we were off. The first turn at a slow pace was easy, but as speed picks up the peron on the outside of the turn is forced to lean way back, while the inside rider leans forward. The force to the outside is great, the wheels slide and the tight turn is forced. Again the speed tends to become too fast for the riders to control. Crashing is accepted as part of the experience. If you are not crashing then you are not testing the limits. Without a doubt we would go home all bruise up with our hands and fingers sore from slamming and running over our hands with our own boards. But not until after we had run up the stairs and ridden down until we were completely exhausted or it was time to go home.


Can't wait until Dean is old enough to get me skateboarding again!
only problem is that in this modern world the parking garages are still used in the evenings
there are even signs posted, "NO SKATEBOARDING"
the times of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are long gone
we are in the age of National Security

this is a non-profit I know nothing about
but I think it is a group of skaters grown up and trying to spread the word of skateboarding

I tend to do things in Binges....
Blogging is no different to me
putting images on my BLOG is no different for me
these images are not all recent
after all
that one of me snowboarding....
well I am not in Chile!

but images are a good addition to the mix
hope they are an addition not detracting


that Baby Grant is one charming little man...even when he sleeps

here I am hanging with my Buddies!
Dean is my Buddy!
Grant is my Buddy!
I am Dean's Dad.
I am Grant's Dad.


here I am introducing Grant to the pool
he will be swimming like a fish in no time at all!

In the 70's skateing had a huge revival. All the kids were cruising around on skateboards in a very 70's sort of fashion singing pop hits by Forgiener, Boston, and even the Beach Boys. We did not realize that our unkempet hair and our shoeless feet was to be thought of 70's fashion, we were just doing it, so only in hindsight were our actions in a 70's sort of fashion. Our toughskin jeans, cut off shorts, our wide variety of colors on our Gap cords, and our corny t-shirts were just what we wore...not a fashion statement that the Indy Rockers of today have adopted, what they are saying I do not know. At this point in time the homemade skateboard was as common as the store bought skate. Kids were still riding wooden planks with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. The equipment varried.....metal wheels were lesser than clay, and clay were inferior to poly urathane. There were those with the roller skate mounts holding the wheels and then people who were riding store bought boards with actual skateboard trucks, the wider the cooler. Those of us with older brothers or sisters were lucky enough to score some outdated hand-me-down equipment. Maybe a BANZI Board, or a Kryp-Stick, or a Logan Earth Ski....shit....a Nash board would have been better than handmade wooden plank red with racing stripes that I was riding....well, I stole from my sister and then sent it down the gutter and into the sewer.....I said nothing/pretended it had never happened....lucky for me that same sewer had the magnatism for skateboards that certain trees have for kites and when someone when down there to pull out their board, they came up with sister's board. It was returned. Oddly she did not beat my ass for this incident, got lucky and caught her in a good mood, but I doubt I was bold enough to borrow it again.
In downtown Bethesda there was the Sunshine House...the local surf and skate shop. It was a small free standing house painted a god aweful yellow almost as bad as the schoolbus yellow I recently painted my garage...the sidewalk out front was covered in wax. Cool guys worked guys hung out there. I was too young and too uncool to hang out there.....I made a few passes through there but was overwelmed by the cool atmosphere.  I was not even cool enough to own a Sunshine House t-shirt until late in the game. An 8th grade girlfriend gave me my first and my sister gave me some hand-me-downs shortly after...some of which were once the property of her cool muscle car driving skater/surfer somewhat sketchy boyfriends. Sketchy in an old school way, not in a jaded modern day way, they were more like the bad boys of the day....marybe more like Jeff Spicolie from Fast Times or Moocher from Breaking Away.

The late 70's faded and skateboarding was forgotten by most. But in the 80's skateboarding had a revival, at least subculturally within the fringe punk scenes. Ramps were popping up in suburban backyards everywhere.  The equipment evolved. Boards and trucks were wider, there were adaptations to aid in the new tricks of the changing sport. Rails on the base of the board to aid in grabs, curb slides, and Rock and Roll slides. The bird was a nice little adaptation that mounted on the rear truck to aid in protecting the rear truck's kingpin for going up and down curbs. There were tail savers and nose bones, and even little pieces of plastic that mounted on the trucks so that when you grinded you were grinding the plastic and not the metal trucks.  Status was achieved not just through the riding, but how "thrashed" each part of the board became. Wheels were worn from carving turns, trucks were worn to the axle from grinds, and the decks themsevled got battered and bruised from countless crashes.  Ramps added vert, vertical that is. They added vert, vert, and more vert. The guys catching air went higher and for me....I was a land dweller. Never mastering the domain of the ramp, always more comfortable on the street doing bonelesses and kickflips, or just getting wacky with an old bicycle inner tube wrapped around the board held tight in my hands.....holding the board snug to me feet as I leap up over curbs and obstacles.

During this same 80's era snowboarding was also evolving. Burton had come out with an evolution of snowboards. Each model was too expensive for me and my needs. But there was always some one who showed up at the local sledding hill and was willing to share. There was the Burton Backhill, the Performer, and the Woody. None of which worked all that well. Either the hill was not steep enough, the snow was not deep enough, or their were too many people running up and tackling you as soon as you started down the hill. As amazing as the invention of the Snowboard may have been, there was as much ignoracy as genius in the creation. Durning first ten years of snowboarding the creators failed to look to its snow loving cousin the ski for advice. The downhill ski has a metal edge, the snowboard had a metal fin or a piece of metal bolted to the side, but never a metal edge. All I can think of is how stupid it would have been for the mountainbike to try and start from a clean slate and not to borrow from the road bike, the cruiser and the motorcycle. Had they not borrowed from that technology the wheels could have easily been square for the first 10 years.

enough with this rant
it is more of a walk down memory lane for me
no direction
no meaning
if I only had some images to tell the tale
guess these will have to do


Dogtown and Z Boys
Riding Giants



Flip Flop
we all do a little flip flop
as we get older and we change; we change our beliefs and we change our actions
even as time passes and our tastes change
with my long list of rules I can be a tad hypocritical by flip flopping and breaking my own rules....
for example tonight
while it is clear that I am too big for the tub
Dean and I still took a bubble bath tonight
then when Dean stepped into the tub he complained that the water was too hot
but that water was not as hot as the Hot Tub that I told Dean he could not go into
that I could not get him out of when we were in Arizona
we all flip flop from time to time
I am sure if you give it five minutes you can find an example of your own flip flopping.

before blogging I had 5-7 good examples of Flip Flops in my present world


The Deck Project.
Here it is months after the talking began and we have finally made some progress on this daunting deck project. It seemed like a huge undertaking and it is.  There were an assortment of barriers that kept this project to actually start moving forward; the weather (too much rain,) my dad travels a great deal for work (seems that he is in Africa 1/3 of the year,) mountainbike races (I wish I could say that was as much of a variable as the rain, but I have done a number of races and have been riding,) but the largest barrier had to be mental. I was intimidated about actually getting this started. The notion of ordering the wood scared me. My lack of familiarity with the language and the process cause apprehension and fear, thus massive procrastination. This is a major purchase. Sure enough, my fear was not unfounded. When the wood arrived just two days after it was ordered I was hauling the lumber from the alley behind my Mount Pleasant home to my underdeveloped back yard with the assistance of three Salvadoran men that I gathered from the local 7-11 when I noticed an error. We were not far into the stack when I noticed that I had ordered some 1 X 6es, when the correct wood that I wanted was actually 5/4 X 6 (five quarters.) Depression sunk in. It should not have been an issue. I knew that we needed this measure board for the fencing, for a board on board fence, but it still threw that oh too familiar gray blanket of depression over my mind, body, and actions on the days to come. It is tough to climb out from under that blanket, rational thought does not clear things up immediately. Words are just words. But when I finally had the correct wood delivered and learned that the lumber yard would buy back anything uncut I began to feel better. Once we had layered stage one of the three step process I was back on my feet. The error was slight, but had we not needed the wood it would have been a 1,500 dollar boo boo.

With the wood ordered, my dad in town, my ability to put the deck as a higher priority than my Saturday morning yoga class and Sunday's mountainbike race at Michaux, we were actually able to start building the deck. Well, correction, I started building the deck well over a month ago, but with the final wood order in I was able to start with the deck floor of our first section (one of three, the smallest of three)  In no time at all we had that first section covered with planks, but then digging holes, mixing concrete, and setting posts then nailing boards took much longer than I had anticipated. Going into the weekend I was picturing a party on Sunday manning the grill.....Dean and a pack of his toddler buddies laughing and giggling as they slide down the 14 foot slide. But no.....By the end of a long weekend we had a few post in place, concrete hardening, and a few boards frivolity grillside, maybe in 2005.

Tour de Lance
It is finally over,  Lance finished his bike ride faster than any of the other racers out there. It was quite an accomplishment. Now all of the armchair quarterbacks are doing a little lazy-boy-cycling and trying to figure if Lance is the greatest cyclist that every raced. Yes, this feat of 6 Tour victories has never been accomplished before, but there are those that have won more stages (yellow jerseys) as well as won more non-Tour races over all. So the debate begins. A difficult debate to even start....just as in deciding the greatest heavy weight boxer of all time by comparing Ali with Tyson. It just does not work. Tyson grew up with the example of Ali before him, not to mention the more highly evolved training techniques of the modern times. So when comparing Lance Armstrong to lets say, Eddie Merckx....well it can not so easily be done.  The equipment has developed as well as the nutrition. The science of sport is at a much more developed stage than it was 30+ years ago. Then again....Lance is racing against a field of athletes that are also prosporing from the same advances in technology of sport, science, and engineering (yes, the bike has changed, weight, geometry, aerodynamices...etc.) So, if nothing else we can say that Lance Armstrong is clearly one of the greatest, if not the greatest, cyclists of our times.

It will be exciting to see Lance put the challenge of the Tour de France behind him and broaden his scope to the other races around the world. It will be good for Lance and it will be good for the sport of cycling, but will not be good for the Tour de France. I would like to see how Lance does in other races like Paris Roubaix or some of the other lesser known tours, ie The Tour of Italy/Tour de Giro/Giro de Italia/Tour Whatever....I don't even know.  Or even the Hour Record, where in Mexico City cyclist race the clock to see who can ride the greatest distance.
(History of the Hour Record)

This weekend without THE OUTDOOR LIFE NETWORK (OLN) I had to get my tour fix fullfilled by internet updates, newspapers, watching a few classic road racing films on DVD. These movies are pure art. They unfold like an opera. Le Course en Tete; The Eddie Merckx Story, is a beautiful epic. A must see for any cyclist, documentary film lover, or person who loves entertainment with a Euro Flare! Then there was the viewing of A SUNDAY In HELL, which is also very beautiful.  Read the Reviews and the synopsis...then find a copy. You will thank me.

And I must thank my old friend Bennet. Big Wheel Bennet! The founder of the Mishi's ride, an all around nice guy, yet a very complex character. It was Bennet that introduced me to these classic films. More on Bennet another time....he is a full time BLOG on his own. He is sort of like a cross between CLERKS, Sesame Street, and Crumb. Well, it is not Bennet that is freaky, he surrounds himself with a strange cast of Characters......Blog on this later....look above for it.