Share the good stuff. Repel the shit.

Location: West Chester, PA
As much as I dislike daily re-assurance type crap like pinning a post-it to your mirror that tells you to like you and that you are special, I do occasionally find myself stopped in my tracks over a particularly good horoscope or a random spam-mail that speaks to me. Since it's the last few minutes of the year, and we are all in a bit of a look-back mode, here we go:

The quote below has been on my fridge for a year now, because it speaks to me.  On it's own it can be a pretty powerful reminder all year that when it feels like everything is uphill and the wind is strong enough to make taking a breath an effort, that if you're fighting the positive fight, you're in a fight you can't lose.

That's not a fanny pack, yank.

Location: Delray Beach, FL
I cant always recount the specifics behind the oomph I need to make a decision, but I can tell you that as spontaneous as they may seem, behind them lay a thousand tiny dead-ends. In other words, I don't just decide to book a ticket to Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand (as I have.) In truth, I decide the fuck out of it.

I feel extremely light because of it. Mostly because the click I made to confirm my purchase took close to a year. In March of this year, freezing my balls off somewhere in Portugal, eating a dish of fried food whose contents where unknown to me, I made up my mind that next time, next time I would go somewhere where English came first, and where summer got flipped. There are only a couple places like that and, well, there you have it.

Beware the Donkey Strangler

Location: Miami, FL Photos: here
I flip flop between wanting to be on the map and lost in space. I've flopped about 20 times and I always come back to the map. At the time of my last post, I was about as close to wanting to drift on into space as I have come, hence the long delay. I was also staying on a sailboat for the last few days, and without wi-fi. 

From Boca Grande I went to Punta Gorda, and I had a shitty dinner. The next day I drove across the Everglades, where the last 275 Miccosukee Indians on earth, relegated to the middle of an asshole, tempt passerby's with knick-knacks and air-boat rides. 

Price of Admission

Location: Boca Grande, FL

I bite my fingernails. Not all of the time, but some of the time, and I agree that it's gross. So did Gwynne, my brief girlfriend in 8th grade, who was tall and blonde and thin and just loved kissing. She told me if I didn't stop biting my nails she would break up with me.

I quit it for her, but only until the Halloween Eve when she broke up with me anyway, right after the scary hay ride, right after I was certain I might get a handjob. That night I chewed them down to the wick.

Snake Hoppin In Gainesville

Location: Gainesville, FL
Sometimes I go somewhere because someone tells me I should. And since I am disinclined to question anyone's judgement when I don't know a single thing to the contrary, I will. And that's what led me to Gainesville.
While the city itself doesn't do too much for me, I enjoyed it mostly. There are several nice pedestrian areas with lots of bars and restaurants. The University of Florida is beautiful, although I don't understand why the frat/sorority houses are so ugly. They look hastily built, and as if someone, too late to the party, came by and said,"It looks like a fucking prison. Add white pillars and hope no one notices."

Florida is all rida by me.

Location: St. Augustine, FL
I didn't ride today, although I had planned to. It wasn't because it was a little dreary or that I woke up a little later than normal, it just didn't strike me. So I decided to get some chores done, specifically re-stock at a CVS nearby. I found out why I didn't ride my bike once at the counter. 
At the cashier next to me was a young women, late teens I would call her, and she had a shopping cart full of juice, eggs, bread, diapers, your basic shit. She was handing the cashier some sort of checks, like three or four of them, and I couldn't hear the name of them but I guess they were some sort of welfare tickets or something.

Washed Up in Savannah

Location: Savannah, GA
Ride: here
Ah, the sunny Savannah days and it's famous foggy nights... I have no idea what I am talking about, but that's what I have experienced, so it is so. Yeah, that's me last night having a late night walk. Giving a place time to grow on me, as I am doing this time around, has made a big difference.

Last year, even though it took me three months to get across the country, I still feel like I rushed it a bit. This time it's more of a crawl, and I'm enjoying the suck-it-in part.

Why Not?

Location: Athens, GA
Yesterday was everything I never wanted. I had toilet fever, or as someone put it more kindly, the "tummy flu." I don't know which cook to shake my finger at, but I think it had more to do with the 830 miles I did in 23 days and the 36,000 calories I replenished with Miller Lite, bananas, and butter-heavy dinners. I feel better after 15 hours in bed, but also a little restless. 

So I'm pulling the trigger, and I'm headed to Savannah on Monday.

I love when I tell people where I am going next and get the following reaction: "Why the hell are you going there?" And my answer is "Because I have never been there," which is just another version of "Why not?" That usually ends that discussion.


Location: Tucker, GA
Ride: here
Just a short one to wish everyone a happy holiday, even though I don't like them very much. But other people do, and it's not my duty to change the world,  just to live happily in my own. And that's what I am doing today, and I hope you're doing the same.

I'm thankful for being able to ride my bike, for having great friends, for my new friends who reach out to me and inspire me back, for the new experiences I get myself into, and those that just show up on my doorstep.

It's That Kind Of Party.

Location: Athens, GA
I like to throw parties. Used to be I would have one at my house every month or so. I inherited this appetite from my parents who also had the fever, though in retrospect, theirs had a suspicious "Ice Storm" flavor to them.
I would secretly roll around in all of the guests jackets, which were tossed onto an upstairs bed. I would inspect the pockets for treasures, route through purses, smell each coat deeply, especially the collars, and I would guess which guest matched which coat. It was warm and strange and it fascinated me.

Cycling Remains

There is a formula for the best riders that exist and ever will exist; they do not tolerate moderation, and are worse at practicing it. All of the cyclists I know, have ridden with, or watched; we all have a fierce independent streak that you will not want to get in the way of. 
What drives a person to a bicycle in the first place? Escapism or being fat, or both. When I ask people what got them into cycling those are the top two answers. "I was a chubby kid," or "I wanted to get away." So it was as if we were running away but necessarily counting on being welcomed home at the same time. It's a "fuck-you" but it's also an "Ok, I'm cool now, I'll take some dinner."

Take your best guess.

Location: Athens, GA
The weather channel can really fuck with your rides. Back in the day when there wasn't a 24 hour coverage of clouds and shit, you just looked up and made your best guess. Today, I mostly hung out wondering when and if the rain would come. Finally a text message from Gaimon;"Fuck it, can you go in twenty?" 
I've had days where I sat around being pissed off not being able to ride because the forecast was rain, and then it was sunny all day. Now, I'm not the kind of rider who won't ride in rain, and as evidence I present my ride in Perpignan, but I'd also rather not ride in the rain. Either way, the point is that I hate it when technology gets in the way of my spontaneity.

Pina Colada Effect

Location: Athens, GA 
Ride: here
When you aim your plane straight up into the air and give it full gas, you're just asking for a sputtering and a stall to occur. And I stalled and began a lead zeppelin descent since Saturday's ride. Big ride up Mount Mitchell. Move. Big ride at the Gran Fondo. Then Athens, GA. New city with no plan, I know no one, and it was motherfucking cold.
I questioned if coming to Athens (with the intent of staying put for an entire month) wasn't too hasty, given that my most cherished moments of last Exodus were flying into a new town, marking my spot, and then hauling ass again into the unknown. I was also feeling quite blue, as I am inclined to feel when it is chilly. So that wasn't something I was unsettled by.

Hincapie La Fawnduh

Location: Greenville, SC 
As good as yesterday was, riding in the Hincapie Gran Fondo, today has been the perfect storm. I've been knocking shit over, tripping on shit, and generally feeling like anything I touch or come into contact with has got a bad thing coming. I half-expect the chair I am sitting on to just decide it is sick and tired of keeping me off the ground. 
Yesterday, I was up at 5:30AM in order to drive myself the 22 miles to the parking area for the Hincapie ride. I thought of everything except the fact that it would be pitch black and the three mile ride from the parking area to the start/finish might be hairy without lighting.

Hand Fed Love

More than occasionally in my travels I come across people who need something fixed. Or they need a new set of eyes on a situation that they have been exhausted by. Or they just simply need to be told that no matter what; it will all be ok. I tell them that it will be. It's a mental hand-feed, and I'm happy to oblige.  
I know the complexity of this feeling because I too have been burdened, even handcuffed, almost all of my conscious life by anxieties, darkness, bouts of depression, things I can't control. I know what it is like to want to sleep all day, to avoid the reality, to run, run, and keep running until it's quiet again.

Dumb Luck

Location: Asheville, NC
 The begin has begun. I'm into day two and already it's been worth the while. I didn't leave with any (many) expectations but it's all been utterly copacetic from the flag drop. I feel that lightness again. Just a tip of the toes at this point, but I have some good wind and I had some good signs that this is my destiny. 

I made a video for the past couple of days, and I'm not sure why since they take my fucking forever to edit because I am a one man show and my only source of production opinion. I never know how they will be received, but I do know that I love watching them a year later, on my couch, getting inspired for the next adventure.

Maybe that's their real purpose. Here ya go:

Exodus Part Two: the beginning.

Tomorrow at high noon I'll be skipping town again. I may have said before I am not as light in spirit as I was last time around, but I think that's just because I have a better idea of what to expect. I will admit to a more melancholy feeling this time, because this summer I got a lot closer to my family. In particular, my relationship with my brother and his kids; huge leaps. 
Last time I wasn't thinking much about what I would miss, I was just thinking of what I had been missing. This time there is a bit more guilt. But that quickly diminishes when I remember the rush of the unknown.

Feeling Jumpy

All I have every wanted is simplicity. In all offerings. Maybe that's why I'm perpetually single, but it could be why I'm perpetually single and content. I love to be in love, I am in love with love, and when I am not in love, I'm never trashing the idea either. I never wonder if it's all worth it.

I don't subscribe to the notion that love is work. The only three times I've been in love I made hardly any effort. I've given a ton of myself and made compromises and fought and bled and cried and suffered for the ones I love(d), but they could never be labeled as efforts.

Talk Nerdy to Me

Fuses got some matches put to them in the last couple of days. It's officially on, but it's a limp start, not like the well campaigned Exodus of the last fiscal year. This time around, the preface is the Hincapie Gran Fondo down in South Carolina followed by four days at a little cottage in Athens, GA. Past that, we'll see what stumbles into us. 

It's a start and momentum, for me, gains speed quickly once its given a green light. I've been reticent this time around to get any cogs rotating because of work. I still have a business and people who depend on me to make sure they have a place to go in the morning and a paycheck on Friday.

Sex or Cycling?

I got to thinking yesterday on my ride if sex or riding my bike was more pleasurable. Both are sweaty, heart-wrenching, emotionally fueled smackdowns that test your stamina. Both can incite euphoria or break you. They can be a hammer-fest or a polite, slow stroll. So now, it's time for the breakdown: 

Sex:  You think about it full-sprint, swirling around all the possibilities like chinese meditation balls. If it’s going to be with someone whose balls you've been swirling for a long time, you might be nervous, even unsteady. If it's a brand new meeting, there isn't much to it but raw energy. Either way, you want to enjoy every single second of it, allow it to linger, and to never have it end.

We Need Stinking Badges

I have been thinking of badges a lot lately. Powerful little things, badges. The boy scouts and the military figured this out a long, long time ago indeed. For example, and I did not make  this up, I present the the most pathetic boy-scout badge ever; the “Respect Copyrights Activity Patch,” awarded for turning in your buddy for his pirated copy of Avatar. Little snitches will line up like ants on candy. 
I’m thinking of them because I am a member of a site called Strava, and also a member of a competing site called RidewithGPS. Neither of these names make it obvious regarding their content or purpose, but then again Google wasn’t even a word until 2001.

The Art of Falling on Your Ass

Yesterday I really wanted to feel the road. So I took a little spill at 30MPH. 
It's something all cyclist's kind of want to have happen to them. It's like going out in a downpour, a tight arm tan and an undercarriage that looks like a mine field. It says "I don't just ride a bike, I'm a cyclist." I never go out expecting to crash, or lose skin, or break anything, but I do know that if you are going to ride a bike, eventually you will fall off of it. 
And I can tell you that finishing off the last 40K of a 100K ride bleeding and torn is vastly more satisfying that finishing it in one-piece. You can get road rash from riding 100 miles a year or 10,000 miles a year, the frat will still approve the pledge. I've ridden this year 6,500 miles with no crashes. But I knew it was coming.

You can fall right, or you can fall wrong. You can go high-side, low-side, over-the-bars or, and this is the one you never want anyone to see but one every cyclist has done: the sack-of-spuds.

The circus has left town. Will re-open October, 2012.

Here's a little re-cap of the 11-12 Exodus for those of you with short attention spans.

I'm planning the '12-'13 Exodus, which will begin around mid-October of 2012. So, feel free to peruse what's here. Plenty of videos and pictures and thoughts and friendships were produced over those six months.

All of it was my favorite part.

Somewhere in Spain. 
Location: West Chester, PA (home)

Well, I can tell you that even after 6 days back in the US of A that my heart and head are elsewhere, as expected. Mostly in those times that completely sucked and the times that completely kicked ass.

I still have not read my journal, parts of it, yeah, but not the whole thing. I also have not gotten to listening to all of the voice memos I made when I didn't feel like writing, but I did bang through a couple of hours of them on the drive from Valencia to Madrid.

Talk to yourself and be a good listener.

Location: Los Angeles

Landed back in the states a few days ago now and it was a shocker. I remember, after having forgotten, that alienating feeling that I had back when I was 20, when I came back after 10 months on the inaugural exodus.

This time I wasn't gone for that long but I did forgot how to start my car and how girls wear almost nothing at all, and that people talk loudly and there are lots of shits and fucks and horns and also a rare hello or goodbye.

Just get up and go.

Alone like this for about 50 miles of the 112 I rode today.
Location: Valencia, Spain
Ride Day: 112 Miles, 5,700ft of climbing

I have always found that when I don't know what's coming, I'm much better equipped to wrangle it into submission.

Tell me that you are super, super, super excited about next Saturday night and that everything is going to be awesome and the dinner will be perfect and the DJ will rock-ass, well then I'm likely to think about it from now until Saturday and then, if that Saturday isn't the way it was drafted, eh, I'm likely to be disappointed.

Death Smiles at us all. Smile back.

Nope. Don't know her. Nice though, eh?
Location: Valencia, Spain
Rides: 200K in two days because I could not help myself.

Five days ago went from Perpignan to Girona. Back in Spain, not so bad, in fact really good. Weather makes a difference, big time.

Before I go to the hotel, I go to the finish of the Volta a Catalunya. I scope out the camera locations. As they come over the line, I take my shirt off and hold up my flyers jersey. I get maybe a full minute of TV time. Lesson: don't try so hard.

Hotel way up on the hill, beautiful view. Ask for some ice. A bucket of ice. This is like having only one channel of TV and yet the episode always has a different ending. This time she thought I wanted a "pocket of ice" which, if you say it with a Spanish accent, sounds a lot like what it should be.

Finally got to ride, in the piss and the wind. I'll take it.

Location: Perpignan
Ride day

Well, I finally got to ride after all the issues. I'm in Girona now and just got off the bike after a monumentally beautiful day. That video will come later.

I'm going to pass out now, so all I can muster is to post the video from the rainy ride in Perpignan. I quite like it. And the song I can not get out of my head.

Bubblewrap, tape and a chain. No questions.

Location: Montpellier, France
Ride day: kind-of (see video at bottom)

Currently watching "Tower Heist" that should be in English, but oddly enough, is in German. Even my French concierge doesn't have an answer for that. But all is good because he gave me free access to all the other movies that aren't in English either. As a compromise.

Which is actually OK at the moment, because "Castaway" is on. And that has only a few words including "Wilson", "Ice", and the last twenty minutes that no one cared about anyway.

I must tell you there is a little too much "c'est la vie" going around lately. And I have been having a rough go of it. I want to ride my bike. I want things to be a little easier. Maybe, just maybe, I might be a little cooked.

It's been rainy. I lost a glove. I need bubblewrap and I need electrical tape. No, I didn't kill anyone, but also this is not the time that you want to pushing me either, because you never know.

Cannes it.

Location: Cannes, France
I woke up two days ago feeling like I got dipped in shit. Just down in general. Tired of looking for hotel rooms, tired of trying to decide which would be the best town to go to, worried of passing things by, cognizant that I actually had to be back in Madrid by the 30th and not really knowing how many miles I had gotten away from it, tired of trying to find a ride online that wasn't uploaded by Briar Rabbit.

Yeah, I know, cry me a river, but it's almost a hassle to have too many choices. The last time I rode my bike around Europe there was this guy who just told us to keep him in sight and be back at the hostel by 9AM and ready to ride. We went out drinking every night and we had little to no care for anything.

The internet is as helpful as it is maddening.

And talk about uninspired; I didn't even want to ride my bike. I think the Ventoux ride did it to me. I did not have fun on that ride, honestly. Riding my bike should be, if nothing else, fun.

CDP from the top (in summer).
I guess, perhaps, what I was feeling, was just that "everything will not be fine." And I'm an "everything will be fine" kind of guy.

So when you're in the darkness like that, you start looking for light switches. And I found one way back in my head, in the form of a very vivid memory of a day spent in Chateauneuf-Du-Pape about 9 years ago. I was only in France that time for 7 days or so, but every part of that day I remember.

So I head in that direction. And I'll tell you, once I walked up to the crumbling castle there on the hilltop and had a seat, the world started tilting in my direction again.

There are a handful of places on earth that make me feel 100 percent whole and where my mind stops and my angst plays only the hide part of hide-and-seek. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is one of those places. I don't know why in particular, but it settles me out. It has a conspicuous feel to it, like maybe I spent a long time here in a past life, but then again, I don't (completely) believe in that sort of thing.

It's like the place looks me right in the eye and strokes my hair and says "Hey, it's all going to be ok. You're going to be ok."

The Rhone, the CDP, and Ventoux. 
I was the only one there this time. I sat up there for about two hours, watching the crows play against the wind overhead, and the sun was on me. It is only two walls now, mostly uncared for after 600 years, and there is no one there to tell you what you can do or can't do, and there are shards of broken wine bottles and beer cans blown into the dark corners of it.

Every 30 minutes or so, I'd hear a roar and look up and see a couple jet fighters soar fast and low on their way to the military base. And as my eyes follow them, they rest on Mont Ventoux, very clear on this day, to the west. And through the windows to the east, is the Rhone.

It's just a gorgeous place, to me. Who knows why? I'm tempted to say, ah, fuck it, it has a certain "je ne sais quoi." Minus one for my writing creativity, but that's the best I can put it.

I tear myself away from town after picking up a couple of bottles from an old woman in a dank, dark basement. I have been to this particular dank, dark basement before, on my last trip. But this time, it was just me and her, pouring tastes of 2008, and of 2009, and maybe she had a little taste with me as well.

And when I get to Cannes, things improve a bit more. My room overlooks the ocean, and with my balcony door open, I can hear the waves breaking. It is sunny, and it's about 65, and there is a man, in a boat, just fishing on a Tuesday.

And maybe without realizing it, I start putting my bike shit on. Please, please reward me, because I really don't want to be doing this. I'm uninspired, but I trust that my bike and this place will continue to put all my wrongs to right on this day.

I'm not led astray. It's perfect in every way. Maybe the most fun I have had on my bike since that descent of Mount Lemmon in Tucson. Tons of cyclists, jaw-dropping scenery, great weather, no huge mountains to break my back, but challenging nonetheless, and despite feeling like crap and having no food in me, I hammered. I also smiled the whole way I think.

I did have an altercation with a driver, but it's hard to recount because all that happened was that he got way too close, I slammed my fist on his rear window, and then lots of yelling in English and French followed. Then we carried on. Normally, this would ruin my ride, but not on this ride, so that just goes to show you how incredible it really was.

It was the kind of day that you hope for as a cyclist. And I can't help but think that something cosmic is at work on these kinds of days, on those days where mostly I am shaking my head and smiling at the enormity of it all.

I think of how that weight we feel sometimes, somehow or another, can just disappear in an instant. Sometimes with a word, a thought, a song, a touch, or a bike ride. When it's on you, it's impossible to figure out how to rid yourself of it. But then, all of sudden, you're floating a few feet above ground.

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