Don’t sell bikes. Most of the time.

In 1998 I was living at the Lapensee Youth Hostel (those who know, know) and my buddy @uhlsbrewingco had landed me a gig as a wrench at Belleview Bikes in Alexandria, VA. It is while working there that – save for possibly my 1985 neon green Haro Master – I bought ‘the bike that started it all’. The 1998 Gary Fisher Ziggurat. I was actually gunning for the full suspension Joshua-1, but got impatient about saving money and wanting a new bike and at the time this was a really nicely appointed hardtail. OH MY DOG EM I EVER GLAD I DIDN’T GET THAT JOSHUA. Totally lucked out there. I got so much more ride out of this one.

I’ve still got the receipt. Original Price $1349 retail – the boss (our friend, Steve? Dave? I forget) actually wrangled it so I got both $100 off AND my $343 pro-deal. Then the first thing I did was swap the flat bar for an Azonic Riser bar that was the butter – what a great bar…. This bike was the link that tied everything back to the bmx days and building bikes in the garage. When I moved to Canada to live with my future wife, I brought everything I owned with me – literally. You could do that back then. I took a flight to Montreal and then caught a train to Bathurst with 2 bike boxes, 2 giant hockey bags and a backpack. Just typing this out is starting to get to me because I sold the damn Ziggurat in 2017. Sigh.

I don’t even have any pictures of it from before I painted it. How is THAT possible? Oh yeah, it was PRE-smartphones. And those Azonic bars, man, I totally should have at least kept those. Double sigh. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I just sold another bike. The Giant XTC. It’s been magical as well. First high-end carbon hardtail. Zing. We’ve been ‘some places’. How dumb am I gonna feel in 10 years? Selling the Giant has facilitated the Birth of the Karate Monkey though. So that’s the next chapter. When I hear other people talking about selling bikes I always say “don’t sell it, you’ll regret it!” And then I sell one – but that one is always THE LAST ONE I’M GOING TO SELL EVER.

The glimpse of to come, the Karate Monkey

Bottle Blonde

So, my oldest kid came over this weekend and it seems she’s landed in that phase of life that many of us have – the one in which we choose to throw off the bonds of our natural hair colour and experiment. That sent me looking at old photos of myself from one of these phases – of which there were a few. It would seem that apple landed somewhere near the tree. Important items of note in this photo;

  1. I still own the flannel Abercrombie and Fitch shirt I’m wearing in this photo – and I was actually wearing said shirt the first time I met my wife. That it has lasted through the volume of abuse and substances I’ve thrown at it should make A&F proud, a testament to their knowledge of fine stitchery, or at the very least their ability to sub-contract some. The t-shirt I’m wearing was one of a limited edition of three hand screen printed by yours truly. Though most people found it humorous at the time, it is a simple print of one line of text that would surely get me kicked off the island, cancelled and blocked and reported now. It most certainly makes me ineligible for higher public office or a Supreme Court seat. I have no idea where the other two are.
  2. The gentleman next to me is not on Instagram, is currently a commercial star of considerably minor repute living in Hollyweird who would serve as the best man at my wedding.
  3. Finally, those of of my generation-ish should stop for a moment and consider the significance and ubiquity of the venerable Solo Cup in your past. Chances are, it’s been there with you through some of both the worst and the best times of your life. I can think of few things that upon sight alone could universally generate such a mind flood of flashbacks and cold shivers that is both enrapturing and gut wrenching at the same time. Grab one today and just hold it for a minute and see what appears in any one of your mind’s eyes. Maybe have a Tums ready as well.

Mixtape Archive 1

Back in another lifetime when I was living in a house with anywhere from 5-7, dare I say what would now be referred to as Dude Bros, my buddy and I made many mixtapes for the purposes of ‘rocking out.’ Parties. In the car on the way to hockey. Workouts. Whatevs. We hand a bent for what was then deemed ‘classic rock’ partly due to our access to both his Dad’s and his older brother’s CD collections. That combined with our complete Rush catalogue (our fave band, Prog Rock Dude Bro bonding at it’s finest), and some other CDs we were buying at the time was the bulk of what we had to pull from. Things like infinite Apple Music libraries were a pipe dream. I still have huge box of cassettes in the garage. I play them when wrenching. They work good in the cold. There’s many store bough albums or complete duped albums, but some mixes as well. Many are ambiguously labelled or with no label at all. Figured I’ll start sifting through the ‘unknowns’ and see what’s on em. First up, this one labelled simply, ‘MIX’. Track listing:

Side: First Side I Played

  • The Ocean – Led Zeppelin 
  • Dogs of War – Pink Floyd
  • Working Man – Rush
  • Carry on My Wayward Son – Kansas
  • The Punk and the Godfather – The Who
  • Life in the Fast Lane – The Eagles
  • La Villa Strangiato – Rush

Side: Other Side

  • White Room – Cream
  • Sister Disco – The Who
  • Rhythm Method (Live Drum Solo from ‘A Show of Hands’) – Rush
  • Feels So Good – Van Halen
  • Walking Towards Paradise – Robert Plant
  • Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull
  • Emotion Detector – Rush
  • Run Like Hell [Live, Delicate Sound of Thunder] – Pink Floyd
  • Foxy Lady [Live at Winterland] – Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Limelight – Rush 

Hello all.

Things are going well here in the Great White North. Except that it is all wet. We got about 6 feet of snow one day, then it rained all day the next day. The snow melt combined with the rain got our house wet. On the inside. In the basement. Via a crack in the foundation wall. Let me paint a picture for you. Me, standing out in zero degree temps, snowblowing what could only be described as slush away from the house and digging a big hole against the house to patch the foundation. To say that I was soaked would be an understatement. I would like however, to thank Jim at Hudson Trail Outfitters in Fairfax for selling me the Columbia snow suit before I left. It made a HUGE difference. Thanks. You should all go visit him and tell him I said hi, and buy stuff. It makes him happy.

Let’s see, what else is new. I hear that another female (maybe a second by the time you read this) has moved into the Hostel. Don’t give up the fight boys! Don’t let them out number you, or soon there will be pastel towels in the bathroom!

I hear that mutual friend Lapo, has gone gay. It was bound to happen sooner or later, actually, I always knew that he had it in him. Quite literally.

I continue to make plans with Lyn for our impending nuptuials. I never realized how much stuff one has to buy to get married. Aren’t you supposed to get free stuff? It’s kind of like paying for your own birthday party. On a similar note, although I would love to have every one of my old friends at the event, I fully realize that for geographic and economical reasons, some of you may not be able to attend. The wedding is August 27th of this year. I’ll leave it up to you guys. If you would like to come, you are welcome. Send me an email and I will get you an invite and details on how to get here, cost, places to stay, other things to do while you’re here and other stuff. This way, I won’t be spending about 1000 bucks on invites that may only yield 3 attendees. Not that you all aren’t worth it. Haha. If you can’t come, I understand, but we simply can’t be friends anymore. Just kidding. We can still be friends, maybe, if you send a big enough gift.

I mentioned in the sidebar that this installment would contain a discussion of curling. Well, it would except that I still haven’t figured it out. I can tell you a few things about it though, and they are as follows.

1. This sport makes little or no sense to the untrained observer.

2. In light of point #1, I will still try to make some sense.

3. The game is played by two teams on ice, who slide rocks and attempt to get them inside a designated area to score points. Imagine shuffleboard on ice. Sort of.

4. You must yell a lot to play this game. The four players on each team are always yelling at each other. Words such as ‘heavy’, ‘hard’, ‘hurry’, ‘good’, ‘whoa’, and ‘clean’ in addition to others are thrown about a lot. At first, I found myself aroused hearing these words shouted at me, as I was watching womens curling at the time. I thought I must have stumbled onto some combination wintersports/adult channel and was hoping that up next would be the lesbian naked pairs figure skating. Then I realized, quite to my dismay, that they were using these words with regards to the game. What each word means in relation to the game is still somewhat a mystery to me. I still enjoyed the yelling though, does that make me naughty?

5. A game consists of what I have determined to be 8 or 10 ‘ends’ or periods, which makes no sense either. If you play one ‘end’, how can you play 7 more? Isn’t the ‘end’ the END?

6. There is ALWAYS curling on tv in Canada.

7. Curling on TV is habit forming. It sucks you in. There is no action, no fast movement, no snappy music, but it’s like falling asleep to the air conditionerit sort of hypnotizes you. It sends messages to your brain that say “Come. Sit. Watch me for hours. Try to solve the riddle that is curling. Do or do not, there is no try. I am the walrus.”

8. I, and you, are not smart enough to play this game. The announcers discuss strategy and positioning in terms that would make MacArthur drool. I assumed they were just banging rocks around, but OH NO, every bump has a purpose, every play a whole hidden agenda. You cannot be privvy to this information unless you are a player, and to be a player, you have to be a master of motion, dynamics, physics and chemistry. At first glance it looks like a bunch of goofballs throwing rocks around on the ice and yelling like idiots, but don’t be fooled, it is the majesty and the mystery that is curling.

Now, if there is anyone out there that is a curler (is that even the right term?), don’t take offense to my little dissertation. I am only one of the lowly ones, the ‘unknowers’ that don’t partake in your sport. I play hockey. Which in your opinion may be just guys skating around beating each other with sticks, but to me it’s so much more. To me it’s guys beating each other with sticks, but also swearing a lot and drinking too much beer afterwards. That’s what takes it to the next level.

For all of you back in the States, my friends that are reading this and are unfamiliar with curling, let me just sum up by saying this:

You’ll know as soon as I do. Until then, stay tuned as I will continue to report on the strange customs of your neighbour to the north. (Such as spelling neighboor with a ‘u’.)