Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Return of the Trailer Park Cyclist

The Lady Or the Tiger
This is a dilemma. I'm sitting here staring at both my bicycles trying to decide which one to load into the back of the SUV tomorrow that will tote my sorry ass back down to Boca Raton. Here are the choices: my 1981 Schwinn Super LeTour, recently converted to single speed and uglied up beyond imagination in a drunken frenzy late one night last month when I was facing real-live homelessness (as in sleeping in my sleeping bag that I didn't have in the woods behind Kmart except the Kmart was run out of business by Walmart and that prevented me from shoplifting a sleeping bag from Kmart to sleep in the woods behind of) or my 1992 Mongoose Alta, which in its day was one bad-ass bicycle and I also converted THAT bicycle to single speed but in a much more dramatic fashion than the Schwinn; the Goose's switch-over involved surgery that required the attention of one of those wandering geniuses that know how to weld aluminum, for yes, the Goose is a child of my previous life before steel, before steel...

But Seriously, Folks
I'm exhausted. As you may have deduced from my recent absence, I am either incarcerated or back at work. It's work, although jail would be far more restful and (except for the food) possibly more rewarding. As I predicted, a couple desperate phone calls resulted in employment and now here am I, typing faster than my pay rate, trying to get the news out before the drugs and alcohol kick in and my forehead crashes into the keyboard, resulting in some kind of cryptography that will bring black helicopters hovering over the Whispering Pines Trailer Park in search of the last straggling extra-terrestrial cyclist from the planet Two-Wheel.

Hey, I said I was exhausted.

So anyway, here am I, wondering which bike to take, although it really isn't a choice: if my ass was on fire and it was either grab Grandma's china or the bicycle (which one?) me and the Schwinn would be pedaling away from the flames and laughing about the fact that we pawned the china grandma never had a long time ago.

I plan to be buried with that bicycle.

The Trailer Park
But the Mongoose ain't bad and she is a hell of a lot of fun to pedal around. Tonight, after a grueling Sunday afternoon spent swilling cheap beer, trying to hustle transportation back South for the beginning of the work week, I returned home to my barn/trailer hoping to find refuge of some kind from this the hard world we live in...but the amazingly obtuse motherfucker in the trailer next door has some kind of inborn need to make lots of noise in the holy period of pre-sundown, the time when we the Naturals begin to tuck in our spirits and get ready for the down-time, the falling of the sun, the quiet time; but not the guy in the trailer next door. Last night at twilight he fired up a big commercial-quality gas powered leaf blower and spent the next fifteen minutes leaf-blowing whatever the hell he could find to blow around in his twelve by fifty foot yard. There ain't any leaves over there, the only thing he was blowing was my fucking cool. Then, tonight, it was a chain saw. A chainsaw.

Twenty years ago I would have gone next door with a baseball bat but tonight, twenty years later, I saddled up the old Mongoose. I poured a subtle blend of Yuengling Black & Tan and Bud Light into my insulated water bottle and then I put some ice in my Goodwill (to all mankind) Messenger Bag and stuck in another can and bottle of each.

Escape!
We're all cyclists here, so let me remind you of what happened next: I put my foot on the drive-side pedal, hit a stroke and flew away, my soul intact, down the blessed street on which I live and down to the Indian River, the place of my heart and soul and instantly the voracious racket was gone and forgotten and nobody got hurt.

Next thing I knew, I was wading waist deep in the stream that flows both ways (it's a tidal estuary) and watching the August moonrise and glancing like a shy lover at how the falling sun marked the ancient alloy of my goofy little mountain bike turned beer fetcher: she was fetching enough in the peace and serenity of the falling tide and try as I might, I could not remember why my blood had been boiling just moments before.

Just the Facts
Here's what I'm up to: I have been working for the last three weeks in a trade that involves big trucks and lots of bulky heavy gear. I myself have half a thousand pounds of tools stored down there on the job site, in one of those shipping containers. I'm riding my bicycle the ten miles from the motel to the job every day and mooching and hitch-hiking rides from Boca back here to Volusia. I get dropped off anywhere from fifteen to fifty miles from home every Friday, depending on which colleague or cousin gives me a ride; then me and Little Miss Dangerous take over and I become myself again, the Trailer Park Cyclist, Straggling Extra-Terrestrial, Wheelman, Human.

Wader of Streams, Seeker of Understanding, Friend of My Foes: well, you get the picture.

It all starts with that first pedal stroke on the drive side.

Yer pal, tj

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Tidal Estuary

August 18, 2013

21 comments:

  1. So glad to hear things are better than was feared and sad tht it had to come to that dreded "work." always happy to hear from you TJ!

    Dan

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    1. Yeah, Dan, it is a veritable insult to my refined sensitivities that I am once again forced to pay my own way. Danged reality...

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  2. TJ,

    Glad to hear that you're not hunkering down behind a non-existent K-mart. Congrats on rejoining the workforce - remember they call it 'the Grind' for a reason.

    Also glad to hear that you're riding. I've been on the bike quite a bit this summer, albeit on pavement rather than dirt, and it has reinforced my belief that making those pedals go in circles cleanses the mind and spirit. Enjoy - this is the good life.

    And keep on riding.

    Steve Z

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    1. It's easy for you guys to work, you don't have my highly honed ability to goof off. But whatever. No matter how bitter I am, I will endeavor to persevere.

      I'm behind in commenting on my friend's sites, swampboy, but don't worry: I'll get over to yer place soon enough.

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  3. Work is a 4 letter word but then, so is life. :-)

    Glad to hear you're well and gainfully employed, my friend. Stay safe and remember to enjoy the ride. There's something magical about that first pedal stroke, isn't there?

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    1. I'm really disappointed at how little pity I'm getting here, Brian. I thought all of you would take up a collection or something. Sigh. OK. So, roll up the sleeves, etc.

      Actually, I'm having a blast and trying to figure out how to tell everything that is happening without straining the credulity of my already incredulous readers.

      Look that last sentence up, will you? I think I might have credulized a little to the left.

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  4. Couldn't say it better than Brian in VA, one nice thing about being in a 3rd floor an apartment no chainsaw or leaf-blower toting neighbors next door ;-)

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    1. Not until I move in, anyway. Typing this on the recently upgraded Dell 6000 you donated: new battery and power supply and some attachments I can't tell about yet until Cap Gates lets me know its OK. Hint: its atomic.

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  5. TJ, glad to hear you are still alive and kicking...was wondering what happened to you. Nice to see you still have the drive and desire to get out & away from it all. I'm really foundering right now...just found out a week or so ago that one of the girls in our cycling club was hit by a pickup (one month ago yesterday)...I had just figured she would recover and be back in the mix soon...but that is not the case. Found out on the Saturday group ride that she'll be in a wheelchair the rest of her life being taken care of, as she's paralyzed all the way...the accident blew out her C6 vertebra and did massive damage to her spinal cord.

    Too many people getting hit by inattentive drivers lately. Went for a MTB ride yesterday w/ the dirt group and was able to just ride and enjoy the scenery, instead of looking in my mirror for the car about to kill me. I know my road ride w/ the group on Saturday (after I found out her recovery status) was far less than enjoyable than in the past. I'm trying to shake it off, but can only put myself in her place and try to imagine life like that.

    At least w/ the MTB if I crash and get hurt I know who'se fault it is. She didn't do anything wrong, just was in the wrong place @ the wrong time...and now her husband and 2 small boys have a monther who can't ever hug them back and that really breaks my heart...she's SUCH a nice person. Sorry to be such a downer...I'm in a dark place right now. Life can be quite cruel.

    Be safe on your commute my friend...nobody's looking out for you except yourself I'm afraid!

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    1. I coulda gone the rest of my life without hearing that one Matt, and yet I'm honored you chose to tell it here. I won't go into it right now; it's late (for me) and my new gig is grueling indeed, but we will cover this, my friend.

      tj

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  6. My first thought is an admittingly ignorant thing, but I just can't wrap my mountain mind around a stream that flows both ways. Downhill is a way of life around here!

    I am very glad to hear that you have warded off homelessness but at a huge cost.....responsibility and a job.
    That first pedal stroke is so sweet...well put.
    You are a good American again, working and paying taxes!
    Jim

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    1. Don't get yer hopes up too high on the taxes part of that story, buddy. I mean Texas. Did I just say that out loud? The river that flows both ways is an american metaphor, even though when it comes to money I am a one-way MF.

      Yer due for a post.

      tj

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  7. Welcome back. You were missed.

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    1. Sometimes it is better to be missed than hit, Miss Marsha, but thank you. I appreciate the thought. I liked the red rabbits.

      tj

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  8. I"m glad you're back, too. I have to say that I find your writing about your own life far more engaging than the fictional stuff. Not sure why but there it is.

    I'm pleased to hear the latest episode in your trailer park adventures which always seem, in the end, to take you to places that offer some sort of solace to the soul in the face of all the excruciating everyday trails and travails that life has to offer.

    Keep wading streams at moonrise. Happy pedalling.

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    1. Yeah, Anna. I know. I'll be better from now on. Maybe.

      tj

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  9. Hey TJ...don't totally drop that 'fiction' line you were working on....I was rather enjoying it and wondering where it was going to go.

    Thanks for the kind words over at my site...I'd say it's not quite so dark where I'm sitting just now...but Shannon will be on my mind pretty frequently I'm afraid (don't think I can throw a leg over my road bike now w/out thinking about her). I hear ya' on getting a sidewalk warrior city bike...I actually think that would be rather fun...a grown up version of our old Schwin Sting rays from the 60's (mine was red, a 5 speed which was the 'new model..butterfly bars, banana seat...weighed a ton but was indestructible)...I remember riding just like that as a kid...we were everywhere! No sidewalk that couldn't be jumped on/off of...streets, alleys, (yards), the best path between any two points sometimes was a crazy Family Circus route of fun, with very few rules.

    I've always given you huge credit being a roadie out there in FL...every time I visit the Cape area and survive the traffic, I couldn't imagine riding a road bike...my life span would be shorter than a tail gunner in B17's in WWWII (I've noticed that in the 'winter' you have the snowbirds in their land yachts, either driving snail-slow or insane-fast, and everybody else trying to get around the slow ones...seen vehicles pass on sidewalks). I can surely see how you would NOT want to be riding on any major roads.

    Be safe my friend and keep us posted on things...you have lots to say and a lot of us peeps who want to hear it!

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    1. You nailed it Matt, there was a reason we rode like a kid when we were kids: the rules didn't apply to us and we got everywhere fast. We cut through woods and across lots and down sidewalks and through parking lots and we were quick and somehow stayed alive. But nothing can replace the feeling of cruising along at fifteen or eighteen mph out in the country on my flying machine, pedaling a steady cadence and lost in that other place we go when we're thirty or forty miles out and lost in the dream world.

      Again, Matt, I don't have any answers, only reactions, but all the same, I will ride.

      I will ride, brother, I will ride.

      tj

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  10. TJ-

    Why is it that the truth is a hell of a lot more entertaining than anything we can ever make up? Maybe it is because when we hear people writing honestly about all the shit in their lives, we don't feel so alone in our own. Life ain't all shits and giggles is it my friend, and you have a way of telling stories about the darker side that make us laugh and always finds a little silver lining. I appreciate that and commend you for honestly putting it out there.

    Don't dump your other projects either, If we just practiced all the stuff we were good at we might not keep rolling forward.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    1. Yeah, Matt...entertainment is elusive and my job on this blog is to be entertaining. Oddly enough, by writing my way out of the slings and arrows stuff I seem to alleviate my own sorrows and also give you guys a mirror, albeit a funhouse mirror, to reflect the wild ride that is life its ownself. I'm working my way through my bloglist and I'll be by your place soon.

      tj

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  11. Happy to have you back Tim Joe.

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