Friday, June 28, 2013

Lone Elm Farm


Not so long ago a sturdy man of epic proportions said 'Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong'.  When I was fouteen my parents bought a farm in Belfast Maine.  They loved Maine.  My step mother Maria loved it especially.  We'd been to Maine a couple of times before but I was surprised and troubled when they bought a place there. 

To the right sort of person a farm in Maine could sound idyllic but to an restless adolescent, content enough, maybe even happy, and musingly accustomed in the pleasantries of Great Falls,Virginia, such as myself, the reality of moving to a farm 700 hundred miles away in central Maine sounded like a thousand miles of bad road. The farm had a name, 'The Lone Elm'.

The farm sat proudly atop a hill on 50 acres of hay field.  It was beautiful and I despised  it.

Once moved in the first order of business was painting the place. No easy task. The barn was connected to the house and the shear volume of the structure was larger than a small condo complex.  My dad hired two professional painters to help our family do the job.  All in we were seven workers and it still took 10 days to finish.

A lifetime later I still think of those 10 days.... painting away in my solitary corner of the Lone Elm.  Minutes felt like hours and days were like years at the time.  The Tom Sawyer in me wanted to finish the job rapidly but the Huck Finn was a-lone to contemplation.  My head spinning, thoughts shaving everything away I held too dear, abandonment I didn't deserve.  I shaved it all down, man, over and over.  I counted and recounted every loss in mantra to take me to a white washed realm that at the time I thought was anger but I was wrong.  Yeah, I missed Virginia terribly and I hated the happy transcendentalism this experience appeared to give my parents and siblings.  But you know what,  in retrospect I think I got the most from it.  You see, time spent in solitude taught me things.  I wish I were a better student but I think riding bikes is a lot like painting the Lone Elm and I've had a rich lifetime of rides doing it.

The picture above was a late afternoon shot taken the day we finished painting the Lone Elm. We're cleaned up and showered, just getting ready for a cookout.  Looking at it now, the texture and feelings in that moment are a lot like those after a long hard ride.

The first time I saw this picture, a short time later, I barely recognized myself.   My appearance looked eerily changed, older, nothing boyish at all left and I felt very differently as well.

That sturdy man knew what he was saying.

-Peace and roll strong

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


What if she hadn't answered so quickly, assuredly and recklessly?  What if, instead, she had been complete enough to cast aside what she knew couldn't be the truth and not succumb to the lie anyway because it provided her the false allowance that in some way she was acting responsibly.

Briony Tallis was the 13 year girl in the movie 'Atonement'.  I love movies and I watched Atonement again the other night.  The crux of the movie is Briony's confused emotions around her love for her older sister's boyfriend and witnessing them making love.  In this scene Briony sculks about in the shadows of their massive old house and comes across them in library doing the act and confessing their love for one another.  Its the best scene in the movie.  The disgust and jealousy rising within Briony is visceral.  And it is the combination of her disgust and jealousy that ultimately lead to not just the destruction of her sister and lover but also condemns Briony herself to a life of regret and sorrow.

Movies are good at showing us a lifetime of  loss contracted into 90 minutes but real life doesn't do it like that.  Its darker and deeper and a whole lot slower.  Things like this seem manageable even innocuous sometimes, when they happen;...... so long as we believe that truth is for lazy people and that lies are for the ambitious.  Think about it. 

Briony, with her oh so proper wealth, breeding and education knew she lied horribley and she knew that she convinced herself to believe and follow that lie and she hated herself for it.  Her pain and jealousy destroyed everyone in her path.  The weird thing is that I understand how she got there and why she did it and I never hated her.  In the end she makes it right and I love(d) her for that.  Love conquers all, again.  What a trip.

Speaking of  'Trippy', a friend on FB shared a link to some cool bike art.  This one was way cool.  It's under an overpass in Cali somewhere.

I took a bike trip last weekend/ 148 mile Harpoon B2B ride.  It was windy and I took my time riding along at 16 mph with a lot of really good people. 

No lunacy whatsoever this year but I thought of lm.  I think the ride took me two hours longer to finish this year and I might have actually gained a lbs or two.  Thanks Dean Phillip's for the most excellent call on Harpoon Growlers.      Peace and roll strong!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tame Thoughts

Time keeps rolling along and I haven't blogged in a while.  I've missed it.  I like to write and like going back to read my own stuff too.  Clearly I'm no one's writer or anything. I spell like a fifth grader and just plaster it out there but I still enjoy putting pen to paper.  It gets stuff outta my head and I guess in most ways that's why jughead51 is more like a diary than editorial. 

I had a lot on my mind last night too, that's for sure.  But from time to time who doesn't, right?  We all deal with things and we deal with them in our own way.  At 2:00 am last night I was wide awake soothing off an anxiety attack and it sucked.  As a kid and throughout my adult life I've had panic attacks.  I still get them once in a while but not so often and I was thinking today about last night.  I mean, what the heck?  What causes this? That's rhetorical btw I know what the causes are but knowing them makes it no easier to go through.  It's still super unsettling and exhausting.

Purgatory RR, Sutton, MA.

The older I get the more people I meet with similar stuff.  I guess the stigmas around this are fading quickly and that's really cool.  Nothing's worse than feeling like the only person on the planet with a panic attack when its happening to you.

Riding, music and authentic self expression all help me to work through the things that tend to build the anxiety.   I can't really explain all of that but I know when I'm actively doing it and when I'm not and I think most other people do too. 

There are plenty of other ways to get yourself balanced.  One of the calmest spaces for me is right in the middle of a bike race.  It's certainly not the only reason I race but it's definitely another healthy reason to do it.  Racing is demanding and channeling.  It eliminates pretty much everything from your mind other than the action and kinetics right in front of you.  Not to be cliche but its very zen like. .

Over time I've also come to understand that it's also just a matter of accepting ones own personal chemistry and dealing with it.  Be self altruistic. Take care of yourself.  It'll calm you down and tame your thoughts.

Peace and roll strong.