Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home for the Holidaze

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down in front of a typewriter and bleed." Yeah that pretty much is how blogging feels right about now. Hemingway said that. Different kind of bleeding obviously. I am a hack and blogging is the antithesis of actual writing its more like journaling or the ramblings of madman I suppose...but the sentiment is the same.

Blogging/writing has been tough over this holiday break. Writing is a solitary occupation that really doesn't flow so well with two kids constantly vying for your attention and a wife who views blogging as something akin to an internet porn or online gambling addiction. Suffice it to say she's not a fan.

But a lot has happened over this break. My knee has been totally jacked up and it has taught me a few things about myself. Pain has always been one of my better teachers. I've never had a knee injury and they are weird. I can see why athletes get addicted to pain killers. I was popping motrin like candy. If I'd had some vitamin V at my disposal who knows it may not have ended well in my fragile state. But the "fever" has broken if you will. I finally HTFU and got on the trainer and spun out the nasty that was in my knee. It feels sooo much better. So end of bitching about my knee...back to our regularly scheduled programing.

One of my more interesting Christmas presents this year was David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries. I've been leafing through it and its pretty good. I am pretty excited to spend some time with it. Its interesting and a good book as a counterpoint to all this racing bikes bullshit. I love cross and that's all about racing. But man enough with the racing. I fell in love with the bike mostly because it let me escape the mundane and enter a world I'd never seen before. It still does. The bike is so much more than sport. The chapter about SF is fascinating. Having lived there for the better part of 13 years it brings back so many memories. My whole life in SF was shaped by the bike.

I also received a wonderful email from an old friend out in Berkeley that was an exclamation point to what the love of a bike should be all about. I met Bob probably 16 years ago. He is a Bohemian. He's an artist, a lover of life and just has an infectious spirit. He helped Grant Peterson with the Bridgestone catalogs. He is close friend with Sky Yeager former product manager at Bianchi and now of Swobo. He is good friends with Pineapple Bob. In fact he introduced me to Pineapple Bob another lifetime ago which was the beginning of my cross addiction. So really I owe both Bob's everything when it comes to cross. In the photo below you see Bob just digging life on the bike. He's riding in Healdsburg CA with his lovely wife. Yes those are toe clips, no the are not wearing helmets. Sometimes they do most times they don't.

Getting the picture of them in my email box made my week. Here I am feeling like a miserable bastard cause its cold and I can't ride and I see these guys just having so much fun. I imagine they are probably turning into the winery you can see over the top of those vineyards and will be sampling some of Norcal's finest merlots or cabs in a moment. And yes they'll be drinking and then getting back on their bikes without those helmets and riding. And you know what its ok. They are professionals helmet or no helmet.

I have so many good memories of Bob. One time we went up to Chico, CA home of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Retro Tech, Paul's, and Mountain Goat. We went on a mtn bike ride with some locals on a trail called "bloody pin" trail. Why was it called "Bloody Pin"? It got its name from the technical chute that is littered with baby head lava rocks. Apparently a rider crashed hard, hit the rocks and a surgical pin popped out of their ankle hence the bloody pin. Well we are all on modern for the time mtn bikes. I got to borrow a badass Mountain Goat from the factory. Bob insisted on rocking his early '80s vintage Mountain Goat Whiskey Town racer. Full custom, drop bars, rigid fork, toe clips. Gorgeous but kind of like bringing a wooden spoon to a gunfight.

So we climb and climb up these incredible fire roads. We get to the top of the ridge right above the chute and get a bit of a local rundown of what to expect and then we just dive in. We all make it clean and ride the rollercoaster descent to the bottom of the canyon. We stop to talk story and wait for Bob. And we wait. And wait. And wait. Finally I decide to go find him. I see him riding towards me all covered in dirt but still smiling.

Dude is messed up. He hit a low branch on the drop in. Endoed hard and got a flat. While fixing the flat he got stung by a wasp about 5 times. He was smiling ear to ear. We got back to the hotel and used every towel to clean the nasty road rash off his back. Picked the dirt out of it and then cleaned ourselves up and headed over to the Sierra Nevada Brewery. I would have been a whiny bitch with road rash like that but Bob was his usual charming, hilarious self ordering round after round. I don't even know how many beers we had that night. Good times as always. I have a lifetime of good memories from our nefarious adventures.

The point is Bob loves the bike more than I can even imagine. The good times we had all revolved around the bike but weren't result driven or ego driven or image driven. 2010 I am going to get back to what got me into this bike game long ago. Love. That's it...Passion and Love. Am I going to be serious about racing? No doubt. But its not going to be so one dimensional.

One other nice surprise this holiday break was an opportunity to go have a coffee with my good friend Richard Fries. I haven't seen him in forever! I returned the PA he let us borrow for the Lowell race. Sorry Richard it took me so long to get it back to you! That is a friend right there. He lent me that PA system no questions asked. We got it out of the Hup sprinter put it back in its rightful place. I couldn't resist snapping some pictures of his bike. He commutes non-stop to his work in downtown Boston on that machine. He lives what he preaches about using the bike as a viable option for commuting, errands, life. He's off to Tabor in a few weeks to announce at World's! I can't even believe it what an incredible opportunity. He's going to call a great race. Not to push my luck but I am going to need to give him an envelope filled with money to buy me the world's biggest cowbell. And maybe just maybe Stybar's autograph...maybe on my Ice Weasels t-shirt? Oh dear god that would be incredible.
That's all I've got for right now. 2010 is going to be incredible. I can just feel it. Happy New Year to all my biker brother's and sister's. Hup Hup!!!


  1. i got that book for christmas too - just started reading it last night. loved that introduction. first dozen or two pages are pretty good too...

    skimming so i have to come back and read your wonderful writing later.

    Bless you Chip Baker, you are a Saint.

  2. I too received that book as a gift during your people's Christmas period. Ripped through it on vacation, really enjoyed it. I'm planning on doing an entire post around it (like that'll happen) so I won't yammer any further.

    I tell my wife I have aspirations of becoming a professional writer so she leaves me alone to blog (and while I'm pretending to blog I gamble online and look at porn!).

  3. Thom you could be a professional writer tomorrow. Seriously.

    Now you may be talking about being a novelist and in that I have no experience to speak of but as a marketing writer or doing work for say Outside magazine you are already there. Do it!