Friday, October 31, 2014


Things were actually going pretty well. Yeah... I was rolling out of town hours later than I wanted to. And yeah... my chest was heavy with the weight of all the things I needed to do and all those places my brain tends to go. But I mean... what else is new?
At least I was on the road... and even if I rolled into Louisville late that night, I still had a place to park and pass out. And I'd have tons of time to mess about and see some folks I wanted to before "getting to it," as they say. (They say that, right? Hmm. I'm pretty sure that somebody says that. Somewhere.)
And...goddamn, this was a beautiful drive.  In fact, for the past two hours I'd been jizzing in my pants over how goddamned overwhelmingly beautiful everything was. Ok, yeah... mayyybe I was a little turned up emotionally...A metric fuckton of stress, raw feelings, mountains, autumn leaves and the joie de vivre of getting the fuck out of the 'Boro culminating in a bit of teary euphoria.
Look....just because you're an unfeeling sociopath, and the pain and beauty and absurdity of this life doesn't make you occasionally just break down crying for no goddamned reason... be it in the middle of a crowded store, or halfway up a mountain on your bike, or alone in a bathtub with a bottle of wine, or mid-coitus, or driving to Kentucky...Don't judge me. (Dick)

I'm not going to say that my sky came crashing down when the van wouldn't start after refueling somewhere in West Virgina...But some spacejunk definitely fell on my head and knocked my ass out for a little while.

It's something to do with the starter. The Bostig conversion on the van shunts a good bit of heat right onto that fucker, and if it's a bit clapped out anyway, sometimes it needs some (fucking) time to cool off before it can (fucking) start. In my case, this has taken anywhere from an hour to a few days. I was hoping this was the hour scenario... but four hours later... the sun was going down and I was still at Sheetz. Pissy calls to my mechanic, coupled with wiggled wires, hammers to starters, pleas, curses and threats having failed to make the van magically start, I climbed in, pulled the curtains and started drinking.

A little pep talk by my brother (for the second weekend in a row) and I rallied. Fuck it... I was going to make something of this bullshit... when and if I managed to get the van back on the road, I was damn sure still hauling my ass to Kentucky for the weekend.
A few calls later, and I had a new starter waiting for me in a nearby town. I considered getting towed there that night, but I'd been told by the auto-shop that sleeping in the van in said town was probably ill advised, and that the hotel selection left much to be desired. (The word "unsafe" being bandied about) I opted for the Sheetz parking lot in Princeton. I'd get towed first thing in the morning.
After two NODA Brewing Hop Drop and Rolls, I walked 50 ft to the prestigious "Club Lounge," (speaking of "unsafe") ready to pull a George Washington Hayduke: swagger in.. size up the clientelle...brazenly announce that "coal is for assholes"... and see where things went from there. Sadly, (or luckily) it was dead, and forgetting entirely that there was a place up the street called "Southern X-posure" (the first of many regrets over the weekend) I made my way to Chili's for dinner (the second of many regrets over the weekend.) Turns out that's where "the party" was. Who knew? (The denizens of Princeton, WV, that's who.) It was packed.
I marveled at the mix of people crowding the bar and ordered a beer. I was served two. "Happy hour," the waitress smiled at me. Um...thanks. That works. A few beers (times two) later, and I made my way back to the van. It didn't take long to hit the wall... too much light and noise and bad gas-station music finally forcing me to flee on bike to the Hampton Inn up the street.
I woke up and made my way back to the van to call the tow truck.

As I was telling the dispatcher my location, I randomly decided to turn the key. She rumbled to life.
You. Are. Fucking. Shitting. Me!

So... I drove down to Bluefield, WV to get a new starter installed... figuring better safe than sorry. As they worked on it, I rode my bike all over town, bizarrely entranced by how picturesque it all was and completely confounded by the stark contrast of affluence and poverty. Climbing a neighborhood road that snaked up a mountain, gigantic houses and groomed yards gave way to trailers and squalor... (and a long train of dogs trotting behind me for miles)...
It fanned the flame of curiosity that I'd had about West Virginia since college...having fallen in love my freshmen year with a beautiful, punky Katie Haddox, who hailed from Charleston. Sadly, Katie and I were star-crossed lovers... kept apart by the tragic and vexing circumstance of her total lack of interest in me. Sigh... This life.
That... and the INBRED are from WV.

New starter installed. And I rolled out mid-morning. Five and a half hours to go.

I pulled into Louisville at 4:39pm, a mere three and a half hours later than my posted qualifier ride. (Because you're supposed to "qualify" in order to race the main event. Pfffft. As far as I was concerned, I'd long since I'm totally "bonafide?") Luckily, I gave absolutely zero fucks at that point, happy as I was to have simply made it to KY. I'd just hop in with the last group. Or not.
I had just enough time to grab a beer, get fondled by Sally Fornes, and throw a leg over the bike before rolling out with friends for the final ride of the day. Yeah... we probably had the best group.

Thanks, Sally.

Dave Pryor is from the city of brotherly love, remember? 

Matt Falwell.... in a van down by the river. I'm with you, buddy.

We rode around the city, drinking and whooping it up and doing all sorts of random, fun feats before heading back to Against the Grain for one more beer...Then on to Molly Malone's for the official opening party.
Where I saw...

Sad Butt Drew and Little Lady Rachel.

And a bunch of people...

And more people (Hodoola!, right Cush?)

And more people.

Hey.... Does anyone know if Corey the Courier is still MIA?

Ashley's life is crazy. Srsly. Ask him about it sometime.

Endless Shanna.



Mo Bruno Roy, Craig Etheridge, some dick, and Matt "Jacobs Ladder" Roy.

Mustache off between Adam and Drew.

Dave Pokela! From the 'Boro?! 

Dirty Randy.


My god... it's full of stars.

As we departed, I was invited to just crash at the Hodala house instead of some random driveway. Why not? 
You know... I really like the Hodala fuckers. It's always rowdy and loving and inappropriate... and fun as hell... like a night with the Spits. And that's a-ok.
I woke up next to Craig on a deflated air mattress, my shoulder and hips digging into the hard wood floor. We roused Ashley, who made a baller breakfast....

"Ashley!... Bacon!!!!"

"Bacon!... Ashley.... "Bacon!!!"

"Don't be a hipster and take pictures of your food, Watts."

...and Craig and I pulled on our bikecycling clothes to go meet Stik, Charlie and others from the PA contingent for a jaunt around the city. Some more, beer and pretty tattooed servers at the Silver Dollar... and we headed out....
... on what Craig dubbed the "best ride of the year."
That's a lofty statement, I know. And I was hesitant to concur, my head still swimming with my time in Utah during Saddledrive, and with that place my head kept going as I turned the pedals up those mountains. But... I think he might be right. 
And the thing is... my head was very much still going to that same place here in KY... over a thousand miles away. 
It's a problem. And part of the overarching problem is that it's super problematic when you really kind of like a problem? 
Like really. 

"Yeah, Watts.. that is quite a problem. What are you going to do?"

Grindcore and Marcy

Because most of us bring various cured meats with us on rides. And if we don't, we should.

We rode back to the Hodala house, came up with a rough plan for the night and headed over to El Mundo for some awesome food and margaritas.

This is less a picture of margaritas and more a picture of Craig's watch and knuckles. Just so you know.
We headed home, put on our costumes and rode to Eva Bandman park. Craig as a pumpkin... me in a suit that I snagged from my father back in highschool. It's pretty remarkable. We arrived in time to see the EVERYONE'S A WINNER race. Oh man... the course looked AMAZEBALLS! Just seeing it, I felt a lightness in my chest... so fucking pleased to be exactly where I was. We grabbed beers, walked around, checked out the course and highfived all of the rad people. All of them. 
This is where things get problematic...
... because at some point I may or may not have ingested all of a baked good that may or may not have turned out to be quite potent. 
Which brings me to the topic of self-control. 
There is, admittedly, a point at which I have very little.
And...maybe I struggle a little to understand this Jekyll/Hyde aspect of my personality. Much of it is the result of my past life...which was a case study of control.. something I bucked against in a myriad of dramatic and self-destructive ways. And much of it is a reflection of my current life and single fatherhood. When my son is with me, I feel... complete. Sure, there are the struggles of parenthood, but we have a very easy relationship. And he's a ridiculously sweet and good natured kid. 
But when he's not with me... there's some pretty big void. And to stay sane (ok...sane-ish)... I kind of have to switch a part of my brain off. And try to fill the void in other ways. Drunken nihilism being the current outlet. (Uhhh....) And no... regardless of what those fuckers who insist on the continual and repugnant violation of the word "truth" tell you, all of the imaginary friend you can invent will never fill that void. 
Only massive quantities of prescription drugs, Target, Netflix, sportsball and internet porn will. 
(I swear, no one even knows when I'm joking and when I'm not anymore, do they?)
And if they don't, you can always try getting outside... on a bike... in a costume... with flames.
Essentially, only you can fill that void.
(oh...And Higgs bosons. But those very same fuckers even try to violate that particle by latching on to its other very misbegotten name. Essentially... those wanks will violate anything and everything they can...all in some twisted guise of self-control.) 
And no... I'm not saying that my lack of self-control fills the void either. I'm just saying that I take my moments where I can. Resting my head against this rock I'm pushing up the hill... the small pleasure of it's cool, textured surface against my cheek somehow making it all bearable. I don't know...maybe I've read too much Sartre and Camus. 

So has this guy...

And this guy...

And this guy...

And this... gal.

And this....g. g.. guh... g...g...guh...g..ghh...guh...

"Kids...Don't do...stuff."

She actually does. 

Here's a small glimpse at how good the weekend was, via Dirtwire. (Look for me jumping the fire at 1:53, hopping the barrier with a little more height than necessary to avoid my polyester suit bursting into flame)
Right when the sun went down, it was our turn. Shoes off and we screamed down a slip and slide to our bikes, Lemans style. Then all hell broke loose. At one point, cutting off more than half of the course... I was totally leading the race. And as rules don't apply... I had a momentary "holy shit!" moment. Before I crashed in a turn right before the bourbon shortcut. Then I just... whatever.
One of my favorite moments during the entire night was watching Mo Bruno Roy scream into the turn, swig down her ticket to the substantial bourbon short-cut, and then run the other way and take the long cut. Because she gave zero fucks about some shortcut... all she knew was "bourbon."
I don't know how many beers I'd had at that point, but it was many... all of them tall.. and none of them shitty (thank singlespeed-hating-god!). And there was a good bit more consumed during the race, in addition to whatever bourbon and moonshine appeared in a cup in my face each lap. 

And this... is where the problem begins in earnest, as at some point during that final lap, the baked good I had ingested earlier hit my blood stream...hard...
... and began a 3 hour blackout period of which I can recall nothing. I have no memory at all of leaving the race and making it to the party. None. 
There are fragments... a phone call wherein all the nonsense I could possibly summon came streaming out of my mouth and into the other persons worried ear. Lying against a cement wall in a parking lot, trying to get my bearings. 
But outside of that... 
What finally rallied me was dancing. I vaguely remember walking onto the dance floor and joining the fray. And I distinctly remember coming-to. Another.."holy shit!" moment where I was back in control. I looked around, took stock and tried to figure out how I'd gotten here and what had transpired before that. 
Where was my bag? My jacket? My bike? My stuff?

So...You know who is one of the most solid of all the solid-fucking-dudes? 
Craig T. Fucking Etheridge. 
I can't even tell you how much that guy rules as a human being. 
By this point I was back in the game. I found my bag in a corner but didn't see my jacket, and having no memory of grabbing ANY of my things, I was sure that I left it at the race. I knew where it was though, having thrown it next to a tree during one of the last laps. 
So Craig rode with my sorry, dumb, confounded ass back to the race venue, but we were unable to locate it. I was bummed, but hopeful that I'd get it back. We went back to the party, which was shutting down, and we hopped on our bikes and rolled to ANOTHER dance party, this one being DJ'd by former 'Boro-an, the lovely, talented and formidable Sara Soltau. If our dance-party had been a shitshow of drunk cyclists, this one was a meatmarket for the hipster millenial illuminati of Louisville. I felt a bit out of place in my 70's disco suit amid all the pomade and buddy holly glasses... but the beer was good and the dancing was fun. Sara danced with me for a bit, but had to do her thing.. and as it was very, very  late... Craig and I rolled home. 

The next morning, as I was lamenting the loss of my jacket and wondering who at the park might have picked it up, Jim walked in and said "Brooks... (that's my new name, btw.)... Did you get your coat? It was on the floor at the party, so I hung it up on a chair."
My relief at now having a physical location for the jacket was dampened by the even clearer picture of how completely out of it I had been last night. Fuck.
After breakfast and goodbyes, I headed back to Greensboro... once again jizzing in the same pants about the same leaves and mountains and fighting the sadness of those places my head likes to go. 

I rolled into town in time to pick up a little boy... read him some books, tuck him in and feel the void close that tiny bit.



  1. Good to meet you and ride in the woods with you, buddy. Here's hoping the jacket surfaces, and I concur on Craig T. Solid Dude Ethridge 100%. -Grindcore

  2. Hey Grindcore! Great to meet and ride with you too. And the coat just arrived back at my house today. Helz yea.