Years ago I stopped riding with headphones, music etc. Every ride has a soundtrack of it’s own, be it natural, urban or other. Sounds – or sometimes the lack there-of – for me, are very much a part of the ride.
Also being Earth Day and all, I picked up a piece of trash from the massive dumping spot off the side of the road that people have been using for years. SMH. Don’t ask.
Picked up this beaut of a plastic bottle. Small hole in the bottom could be patched. I could probably find new caps on the internet if I scoured hard enough. It also occurs to me I could cut/modify it to be some kind of bin/basket on bicycle, or an otherwise handy bin to keep stuff in. We shall see…
Ah, New Brunswick spring. I ordered some bike swag to send out to homies from a local merchant and of course bike swag should be picked up by bike. So I saddled up the Troll on the day of our usual spring snowstorm and got on with it.
Hovering at 0ºC, alternately snowing, raining and sleeting, it made for messy and interesting goings. Exactly the conditions that my buddy Matt spec’d this Troll for because he somehow had the prescience to know that it would be here one day. Not a thing out of place, it did not disappoint. 2″ of wet snow/slush on the ground and the Troll was eating it up. The SKS Blumens fenders are game-changers in conditions like this. Terminally groovy.
When I moved out here years ago, I loved that I was surrounded on 3 sides by woods. Even though there was neighbours at a distance, it was akin to living in the middle of nowhere. Well, my luck has finally run out and whichever developer owns the lot to one side of me has decided to put the heat on to get someone on it. I figure if I’m going to finally have neighbors, I’m going to do my best to make sure they ride bikes – so here’s your pitch.
Ride bikes in New Brunswick? Looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the GFA but still need to work there? Listen up.
Location, Location, Location
This lot is centrally located to all kinds of cool bike shit, and I’m not just talking about my bike clubhouse/garage.
This lot is smack in the middle of some great road riding. Quiet country roads with rolling hills and scenic vistas abound. The lot is a mere 20minute ride from the infamous Tour de Dog loop, and it is easy to string together all kinds of rides out towards Stanley and points North/Central New Brunswick. You can ride as little or as long as you want, include a loop into town for espressos and pastries and back home no problem.
Oh, excuse me, do you ride the gravel? Well lucky for you this lot is surrounded by it. From the multi-use Gibson/NB Trail and the cush crusher dust surface that rolls leisurely out of Fredericton and runs almost literally behind this lot, to gnarly fire-roads, atv trails and forestry access roads, you can go until you quite literally get lost. You can ride to Minto the long way. Pack snacks and a spare tube or 3.
This lot is located handy to New Brunswick MTB history. It’s a scant 15 minute ride from the venerable Hadley Trail System. “This trail system was originally maintained by the legendary Hadley family and has been adopted by RVC. The former location of the Hadley Challenge Race until Hillside trail was cut off by the new bypass highway.” Hot tip, you can still ride Hillside though, because it’s a total blast. Another hot tip, I still see Mrs. Hadley out on the the Penniac roads sometimes. I’d say I chat her up a bit, but she consistently drops me.
Notable as well, this lot is a 1/2 hour ride from the formidable and popular MVP Trail System via either the shoulder of the Marysville Bypass or the NB Trail.
Finally, if you’re feeling super saucy and ready for an epic – you can connect to any one of the local MTB systems in Fredericton and get back home relatively easily. The UNB Woodlot (ssshhhhh), Odell, Tower Trails, Kilarney and even Islandview out there in the Hinterlands could all be hit up from your lot in a loop that begins and ends at your front door. How do I know? I’ve done them all.
Quit driving your bike to the trailhead. That’s so passé. All the cool kids know the ride out is warm up and ride home is recovery. Make it all count. It’s much easier to stomp your buddies in the woods when you’ve already reached FTP on the ride out.
Wanna ride to work? Who doesn’t? 3 seasons of the year this lot is a 30-40 minute ride from the heart of downtown Fredericton along the well maintained Gibson/NB Trail – maybe even faster if you’ve been working on your intervals and pay attention to things like how much your brake levers weigh. Think you’re hardcore? You can ride all the way in in the winter as well on the same trail, packed by snowmobiles. A fat bike, a hearty constitution and a bigger time window are recommended but the feeling of accomplishment and the sights you see along the way are well worth it. Ask me how I know.
Neighbours with Benefits
I’ll be the first to admit, living next to me is probably not always going to be a bowl of cherries. My dog likes to run away sometimes and I’m pretty fond of the occasional skinny dip in my pool – but the pros may outweigh the cons? I can try and keep the skinny dips to nighttime when it’s dark?
Consider that you’ll be living next to a guy that has a garage so full of bikes I can’t fit any cars in it and won’t for some time. It’s also stocked with a slew of bike-specific tools and I even have a modicum of knowledge on how to use them. Word on the street is if you ply me with enough coffee, pastries, books or some combination of the three, I will almost-willingly work on your bikes for you, but you may have to hang out while I do and listen to my bullshit and 90’s alt rock cassettes on the boombox. I do at least have a library of bike-related books and magazines for you to peruse and ample seating.
I’d like to say that you’d always have a ready and willing riding partner, but the reality is that I’m just plain weird, and sometimes, lazy. If you want to chalk that up as a ‘con,’ well then you go right ahead.
Ready to Buy?
Here’s the guy you need to talk to. Let me know when you’re coming so I can make coffee.
Our dishwasher broke several months ago. We ordered one, then it was delayed due to Covid and/or other things, then finally ‘unavailable’, so we cancelled the order and are currently deciding what to do next.
I haven’t really been in any hurry to get the new one. Jason Isbell was kind enough to explain why for me.
Realized that I hadn’t posted a picture of me riding bikes in awhile and maybe you were thinking I didn’t anymore. You’d be thinking wrong.
I call ‘First Mud of the Season’. And yup, I’m out in jeans, Blundstones and a puffy jacket. I got pretty dirty on my regular clothes like I used to when I was a kid and it was pretty glorious. Remember when you were a kid and you did everything in your regular clothes? You had no technical fabrics, nothing ‘breathed’. It was hot and when it got wet it was heavy and you’d keep going till it dried and stiffened with dirt and grime until it was time for dinner. Same clothes you wore everywhere else. ‘Venting’ was unzipping your jacket and letting it flap or tying it around your waist.
Then I came back home and sent a group email to nine dudes at various points on the globe who know/don’t know each other to discuss an obscure 2014 record and see what kind of trouble that can turn into. It’s ok, they all ride bikes.
While I was riding bikes this thought occurred to me that I texted to a friend the other day:
“So, a lot of Brad Warner’s Youtube videos lately have discussed the concept of ‘no self’. And I think I’m finally sort of getting it. And today, sitting listening to the latest Sam Harris podcast about Freewill things are becoming even clearer. So now I’m in the stage that is the perpetual loop of realizing there is no ‘I’, but still asking who is this guy who is realizing there is no ‘I’. From where am ‘I’ having this realization when as Sam says, we’re not standing on the bank watching the stream of consciousness flow by, we, ARE the stream. Sometimes I think the people who never bother to think about such things are much happier in their apathy.”
-2 days ago me
And he said:
“I remind myself (?!) several times a day that “I” am not the thinking of these thoughts. They think themselves, if you will. Bubbling up from a subconscious, no more substantial than soap bubbles. What Alan Watts describes as the sound of chickens clucking or the noise from a busy intersection. Real but of no real consequence.”
-2 days ago-texted friend
Then today as I was riding around my neighborhood on muddy roads on this overgrown BMX bike and bombing a massive muddy hill in a gloriously warm sunlight that I was overdressed for I thought:
I don’t know who I am, or who this is, but this is awesome and we don’t care.
-Muddy hill bike bombing me
Some things will never happen again.
Several years back, after at least 5 years of waffling back and forth, I sold all my CDs. 1000+. It’s a long story I won’t rehash here. I also won’t say what I sold them for because it’s embarrassing and painful. The guy I sold them to has a used vinyl/CD place in town and actually lives just up the road from me and our paths cross out in the world sometimes.
After selling them, every now and then I’d come across an album that for whatever reasons – most likely copyright legal nonsense – isn’t on Apple Music or in some cases ANY streaming service. It’s so odd. Sometimes it will literally be one album smack in the middle of an artists’ catalog while all the others are there. This would be a bummer. In one case, Michael Penn’s Resigned (possibly a top-5 desert island album for me), it was so catastrophic that I bought the CD online somewhere so I could have it again.
Another album I listened to just a ridiculous amount at one point was Cracker’s FOREVER – which I couldn’t believe wasn’t online anywhere. I just don’t understand it. Anyway, I actually wrote to the guy up the street and asked if he still had it and could I get it back – no dice.
For awhile back sometime in the ether – before I’d sold all my CDs, I made a jump from the MacOS to Android – got the phone – the full nine. At the time Google Music was just starting up and I didn’t want to pay for a lot of stuff, but you could rip and upload your own CDs too. At one point I went back to Mac and forgot about it. A few weeks ago I got an email saying they’re shuttering Google Music and do I want to download all my stuff? I almost didn’t, because I figured no biggie, but did anyway. 14 zip archives later, I went and unzipped it all to see what was there.
A lot of it was what I’d expected. Albums that were still in heavy rotation or at least on my radar. But there was some that came to comprise what I’m calling the ‘digital dusty box in the storage space that had been forgotten’. A bunch of albums I’d either uploaded because Google Music didn’t have them or I couldn’t find them elsewhere. So now – even though I didn’t have the CDs anymore I had the MP3s. It was like finding a treasure box. I feel like I won the garage sale lottery.
The past week has been a trip in the serious wayback machine playing albums I’d either:
or couldn’t be found online anywhere easily.
What a blast. For anyone interested, here’s what that list is comprised of along with marginalia:
311 – Grassroots
Band of Horses – Everything All the Time – found out about these guys thanks to Danny MacAskill’s first video that went huge.
BRAD – Welcome to Discovery Park – this came out during a time when I had an hour drive back and forth to work. I would usually spin whole albums and keep only 3-4 in the car, so this was on heavy rotation at one point. Guitar solo/outro for ‘You Are’ is a long-standing favorite for me.
Catherine Wheel – Wishville, Adam & Eve – Adam & Eve is probably my favorite Catherine Wheel record.
Cracker – FOREVER – another hour-commute album. I may have listened to this for a year straight. Listened to it today for the first time in, probably, 8 years. Remembered every second.
Curve – Come Clean
Dada – Self-Titled – another hour-commute alumnus.
Edna Swap – Wacko Magneto, Wonderland Park – found Ednaswap by way of Kelli Scott, drummer for Failure, one of my fave ever bands, who plays on Wacko Magneto.
Fig Dish – That’s What Love Songs Often Do, When Shove Goes Back to Push – my buddy Steve A. knew these guys and turned me on to them.
Finger Eleven – Tip
Geddy Lee – My Favourite Headache – I’m a huge Rush fan, so duh.
Handsome – Self-Titled – came onto these guys by way of the guitar players for Helmet and Quicksand. Add in a dash of Terry Date producing and what the hell is not to like?
How to Destroy Angels – Self-Titled, Omen EP – via NIN mailing list.
Infectious Grooves – Sarsippius’ Ark
Josh Clayton-Felt – Inarticulate Nature Boy – Really loved the School of Fish – self-titled record. Found this in the used CD store. (He was the singer).
Josh Joplin Group – Useful Music – think I saw the video for a single off this on MTV’s 120 minutes.
Juliana Hatfield – Everything
Limp Bizkit – three dollar bill y’all – Saw these guys open for Faith No More at Lisner Auditorium. I think I bought this at the show. To be honest I’ve always liked the Bizkit’s music, I think they are solid players. Fred just got a little old sometimes.
Liz Phair – Whipsmart, Exile in Guyville
Low Pop Suicide – The Death of Excellence – Saw these guys on a triple bill back in the day at Hammerjacks in Baltimore. It was them, then Sloan from Canada (who weren’t well known at the time) and the headliner, The Lemonheads. I bought this CD and Sloan’s Underwhelmed EP at the merch table.
Mad Season – Above – via Seattle/Grunge/Alice in Chains/Everyone-was-in-everyone-else’s-band-up-there connections.
Marcy Playground – Self-Titled
Mark Curry – It’s Only Time – another one I saw a video for on 120 minutes.
Mike Doughty – The Question Jar Show, Stellar Motel, Circles, Haughty Melodic
Orange 9mm – Tragic, Driver Not Included – saw these guys open for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin in DC – I forget where. Hooked.
Primus – Suck on This – First Primus record I ever heard. Exploded my head.
Ruth Ruth – Laughing Gallery – a solid record. Saw these guys open for Everclear at the old 9:30 Club in DC.
Sean Verreault – Victoria House Concert B – Acoustic, Victoria House Concert B – Electric – These were a download from somewhere – that strangely enough, I’d just gone looking for about a month ago and found mentions of them, but couldn’t find the files anymore.
SmartBomb – Yeah, Well Anyway… – this was a buddy’s band.
Smoking Popes – Destination Failure
Strange Boutique – The Loved One – a very cool DC band that I think was ahead of their time.
Suzanne Vega – 99.9F, Nine Objects of Desire – not sure how I got tuned into Suzanne Vega. This was well after the blow up of ‘Tom’s Diner’. I know I liked these two records more than I liked that song.
The Dandy Warhols – Come Down – listening to this right. Now. And spacing the fuck out.
The Darcys – Self-Titled, Aja – saw these guys open for the Arkells at the UNB Sub, I think. They were great – their more recent stuff got dancer and I wasn’t into it.
The Jezabels – The Man is Dead EP, Dark Storm EP, She’s So Hard EP – Jezabels another band featured in a Danny MacAskill video.
The Knack – Get the Knack – I’d only ever heard ‘My Sharona’. When I finally listened to the whole record it blew me away.
The Miller Stain Limit – Radiate – I think this was like a deep-cut find on MuchMusic. I listened to this a lot.
The Pursuit of Happiness – Love Junk – This album is great. I liked The Downward Road even better – and I can’t find that anywhere.
The Vaughan Brothers – Family Style
Therapy? – Infernal Love
Toadies – Rubberneck – Backslider, yes. But so much more.
Torche – Harmonicraft
Trey Anastasio – Self-Titled – never got much into Phish, but love this record.
Urban Dance Squad – Mental Floss for the Globe – Straight. Up. Genius.
Year of the Rabbit – Self-Titled, Hunted EP – My Man Ken Andrews can do no wrong in my book.
Congratulations, if you’ve read this far, you have earned the title of ‘Certified Music NerdTM and as a result you can’t get the time it just took you to read all that back.