Saturday, March 26, 2005


Fountainhead. My favorite local park/mountain bike trail. It's been lurking around some corner of my life ever since I left the West coast. When Gina and I moved to VA in 98, we were both archery geeks. We shot Olympic style recurve and Fhead was the closest archery range we could find. Nevermind that the range was geared more towards the bowhunter types, it gave us a chance to be out in the woods, which after 20 years of city life in Los Angeles and un-life in the Orange County burbs, seemed like a neat place indeed.

Months later when the archery geek thing passed and the mountain biking geek thing kicked in, I saw a Washington Post article about the Fhead mountain bike trail and decided to give it a try. So one day I tied my $250 aluminum hardtail to the trunk of my car (an old Nissan Sentra which was probably worth less than my bike) and set out for adventure. Until then, my rides had been limited to the cinder trail around Lake Accotink, where even those 5% grades had me gasping for air. Fhead was a very different beast indeed. Steep climbs, rocks, roots, and logs. The trail hurt me bad. But I liked it so much that I came back every weekend for the next few weeks.

A few months later after discovering clipless pedals and full-suspension, I went for my first night ride there clad in jogging sweats and a bright yellow fleece pullover. With about 30 people in the parking lot we split up into 4 groups. My delusions of grandeur got the better of me and I decided to try one of the faster groups (somehow, it was full of guys riding bikes with one gear). I got dropped after less than a minute of riding. As the moderate group caught up with me I pedaled hard to keep up. I got dropped again. As the slower, casual group caught me I pedaled even harder to keep up. No use. I spent the rest of that ride chatting with the sweeper, a nice guy by the name of Stu (the world famous MORE Fhead liaison Stu). We meandered along occassionally getting lapped by faster riders until we finally made it back to the parking lot. I went home and swore off Fhead for a while.

My next night ride there would be three years later, uh, that would be just a couple of Wednesdays ago (see how long it took those emotional scars to heal?). Now, I was riding one of those funny bikes with one gear and I had long since discovered lycra. I'm a bit faster now than I was three years ago but some things never change. I'm still getting dropped, but this time it's rickyd who's doing the dropping. Ever since he converted to 29erism he's hell on wheels (big wheels). And that's good, cos I always like riding with people who are quicker than I am. Kinda gives me something to shoot for. If I could only find my bow...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Emm Pee Three

Tired as heck and a cold, light drizzle outside. But no way I could get my hours-in-the-saddle quota for the week unless I ride. So I gear up, throw my road bike on the car and prepare for misery. It's 5:30pm as I drive out to South Run Rec Center to start my ride on the Fairfax County Parkway. To keep things interesting, I take along my wife's MP3 player. I know it's stupid to ride with earplugs, but it's the only way I'm gonna make it through the hours in the rain, and I promised myself that I would stay out of traffic. Clip in, hit "play" and the first song by the Beautiful South sets the mood for the ride:
And the Sunday sun shines down on San Francisco bay,
But you realize you can't make it anyway.
You have to wash the car, take the kiddies to the park...
Don't marry her, f**k me.
Nice. I'm keeping a "zone 2" pace and before I know it, 30 minutes roll by and I'm getting serenaded by Sinatra as I start the climbing part of the ride:
Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.
In other words, please be true.
In other words, I love you.
I have to restrain myself from singing along. Don't want to scare the joggers up ahead. It's now twilight and the stars are in bloom. Funny how the ride starts to feel like a music video when the songs are set up just right. I hit the halfway point of my ride and stop to turn around. Saturated with Sinatra, I hit the shuffle button and reward myself with a random selection. Jaya's Christmas Album comes on. This time I can't help myself. I let loose at full volume to the traffic on the Parkway:
People making lists, buying special gifts,
It's a time to be kind to one and all.
It's that time of year when good friends are dear
And you wish you could give more than just presents from a store
That felt good, even in March. I know someone in their car must have heard me. It's fully dark now and I didn't bring lights thinking that the headlights from the traffic would light up the bike path. I thought wrong. The headlights blind me so that I can't see a thing. I plod on at a painfully slow pace. Once in a while catching myself right before I ride off the path. Good thing I have Pixies to keep me company:
Got me a movie, I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know
Girlie so groovy, I want you to know
Don't know about you
But I am un CHIEN Andalusia
I am un CHIEN Andalusia
I am un... wanna grow up to be, be a debaser...
The ride is winding down. Only a couple of more miles to the car. I'm already picturing myself crashing in front of the tv to watch City of God, again.
I bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a flannel for my face
Pajamas, a hairbrush, new shoes and a case
I said to my reflection, let’s get out of this place
Past the church and the steeple, the laundry on the hill
Billboards and the buildings,
Memories of it still keep calling and calling
But forget it all I know I will

Tempted by the fruit of another
Tempted but the truth is discovered
What’s been going on
Now that you have gone
There’s no other
Tempted by the fruit of another
Tempted but the truth is discovered
As I open the trunk and throw my stuff in, the encore sneaks in. I laugh out loud. It's from my kid's CD:
There's a bug on the rock in the hole in the middle of the road.
There's a bug on the rock in the hole in the middle of the road.
There's a bug, there's a bug.
There's a bug on the rock in the hole in the middle of the road.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

How did I screw that one up?

A few weeks ago I was riding home from work on one of the worst days to be out riding. There was snow and ice on the ground, a steady drizzle in the air, and temps hovering just around freezing. I had just picked myself up from wiping out on a frozen section of a wooden bridge when I noticed that my gloved hands were soaked through from the snow pile I dove into. I rode on for a while and realized that my wet hands were starting to freeze and I had no extra gloves. With only 2 miles left to go the pain in my hands became unbearable. I stopped at a donut shop to warm up with some coffee. All was well until I realized that I couldn't move my fingers enough to open my bag and pull out my wallet to pay. The lady behind the counter, who spoke almost no English, realized my predicament and motioned to me that I didn't have to pay. This was good because I realized that I had no money anyways. She even threw in a couple of free donuts. I guess I must have looked pathetic in my wet and muddy bike clothes fumbling around with my bag and dripping all over the floor. I gratefully took the food and vowed to come back and repay her. I sat down at a table with that warm and fuzzy feeling, hopeful that there is still some sort of kindness to be found among strangers. I wondered when I would get a chance to return the favor.

A few days later I got my chance all right. There was a trailwork day at Wakefield and I usually bring donuts for all of the volunteers. This time, instead of going to my usual donut store, I would give the kind lady a visit and repay her. I see her at the counter and order three dozen donuts. As I'm paying, I ask her if she remembers me and how she gave me free donuts and coffee once, and that I'd like to repay her for the food. It soon became obvious that she didn't recognize me. Nevertheless, I told her to charge me for the two donuts and coffee which I got for free the other night. But since her English was limited, (or maybe it was my thick Filipino accent) she thought that I was asking for free donuts. She even started to get a bit irritated at me. She thought I wanted two free donuts and she insisted that she would only give me one. The more I tried to explain, the worse it got. Finally, she turned her back to me and walked away. I left the store, numb and dumbfounded at what just happened. That's the last time I ever try to return kindess to anyone....

Monday, March 07, 2005

For whom the bells toll

It was 67 degrees as I pulled into Wakefield parking lot for the Monday night MORE ride. Incredible, since over the last two weeks it barely got above 40 and the very next day was supposed to be more of the same, plus rain. Surely some other cabin fever crazed biker would show up and ride with me I thought. I wasn't disappointed. There was Mike, David (a new guy), and Dominic waiting for me. A few minutes later a familiar bright yellow car, with matching roof racks, pulls up: Peter had arrived. The sleigh bells which adorned his old aluminum singlespeed now hung on the seatpost of a new bile-green Karate Monkey. Big guys need big wheels. His old aluminum hardtail was a bike with a huge frame held up by little 26 inch wheels. Aesthetically, not happening. By contrast, the Karate Monkey with its huge tubes and 29er wheels, was perfectly proportioned-- looking like a work of art, albeit deadly art that could crush a tank. And with Peter on the saddle, everything about the setup screamed, "Get out of my way, ya little punk!"

We started off slowly as we headed to the race course to sample the new singletrack built just days ago. Flow city. These trails were built for speed, singlespeed that is. Smooth and swoopy. We rode two laps before we headed towards "the bowl." Once in the bowl I unleash my evil plan. See, I never really rode with Peter much, but I knew the guy was a veteran racer with skills to spare. He usually leads "casual" paced rides for MORE, but I knew there was something meaner under the hood. So once in the bowl I gun it and, as expected, Peter takes the bait and jumps on my wheel. We're off flying through the woods. I zig, I zag, I zig again, I attack the climbs and do my best to fly over the logs, but the sleigh bells of death are never far behind. They follow me like some evil reindeer coming to eat my soul. When I can take the torment no more, I stop to let the pack regroup. That was fun.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Bagyo Aid

Some pictures of the Bagyo Aid concert from (check their site for more pics):

Angie Pepa

Average Joe

The Speaks

Justine Moral

Fractured Zone

Rodney Garcia