Friday, August 27, 2010

Trumped

It's not often, and in fact, you have to get up so early that you never even went to sleep, but it has happened.  I have been bested.  And i couldn't be happier.  On a small volcanic island, 500 miles off the mainland of the African continent, a bike race was held.  26km, over mountains, through valleys, blind turns, searing sun, chickens, and fierce competition all were in order for the second annual Sao Nicolau Island Bike Race.  This year, the race reversed the course, starting in Tarrafal meaning a beginning few kilometers of straight climbing.  The racers, while already equipped with helmets from last years race, were decked out from head to toe in amazingly flashy cycling apparel graciously donated by cycling teams from Seattle.  With a band, prizes actually handed out the day of the race, and a first place prize of a brand new Trek road bike donated by a wonderful Minnesotian, this race showed that once you light a spark, amazing things can happen.  Thanks to the great Peace Corps Volunteers who made this happen, Chase and Brendan, along with Floriano (Flor, aka Chocks:), only great things will come.

Check it out:  http://sonadei.com/catalog/CVBO.php

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tour da Daks


It began auspiciously.  The ferry boat captain, gauging the state of his vessel one moment, being pooped on by a bird the next.  I knew right away this tour would be unlike any I had ever done before.  Mostly this was because i was going into the Adirondacks where i had never been before, but besides the point that is.  The ferry took off and dropped me off on the ragged coastline of New York, at Port Kent.  And so i began at the foothills of the some of the most daunting mountains the world has ever seen, the slow and continuous climb into the belly of the beast, the Tour da Daks.

A quick 10 miles took me to Au sable forks, a quaint little town.  It was also the last quaint little town i would hit for another 60 miles, little did i know.  I left the main bicycle route to start immediately on a climb that many have called "insane", "death inducing" , and "really really hard".  These all fit the bill.  This was a straight, tough, sweaty climb.  And it was followed more or less by 60 more miles of rolling, steep climbs where the idea of switchback roads hasn't come into popularity just yet.  I also went on a water reduction plan as I had no idea when or where i would ever be able to fill my water tanks up again.  Finally, after passing rainbow lake, clear lake, lake lake, and several lesser known lakes and ponds, i hit the upper part of Saranac lake and was blessed with a gas station/ice cream place/general store/campground/bait shop/church/pool hall/bottle redemption center/NASA training facility/lakeside rest stop.  With my water bottles overflowing, i started checking out the going rate for a state park campground.  however, seeing that I never attended the school of common sense and yet rather operate on a more complex system of irrationality and thick headness, i knew i would never pay to camp and so shoved off to the lower Saranac Lake and ultimately Lake Placid, a 100 miles after starting.  I had it in my head to keep going all night, to finish the tour in blazing glory, of cycling the full 170 miles in a breath taking single day, returning home a hero, a celebrated discoverer back from the wilds. 

instead i sneakfully pitched my tent behind the Center for the Arts and conked out at 9pm.  The next day i woke fresh as a pickle at 5:30am and started off, only to stop at the coffee place in town that magically opens its doors at 5:55am.  Sweet.  With some coffee and a bowl of granola in me, i headed off what would be an amazing donwhill into the town of Keene, along some river that ran along the foot of the mountains.  However,  being at the bottom at Keene meant i had to go up and over a few more passes to get back to the coast of New York at Essex, at which point i hopped back on my trusted New York Bike Route #9 all the way back to Port Kent in time for the early afternoon ferry. 

As the ferry approached the Burlington docks, i noticed a lack of tinker tape parade, of Town Officials and media awaiting my return.  No worries, i do it all for you people.  not for cheers and the fame, glory, riches.  I do it for the trees, the rivers, the sweat, the hours of pedaling, the peaking of a hill climb and the momentary pause before gripping tight for the downhill, i do it because i love to do it.


Check out all the photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/nopluto/TourDaDaks#

Friday, August 6, 2010

You can come to me in pieces, in fragments, in dust balls and miniature cartoons written on rice,
You can come to me in mathematical formality, in hidden torah messages, in spurts and starts and stutters,
You can come to me in daisy prints, in symmetrical beauty, in faded jeans and yellow tee,
You can come to me in tears, in bloody rage, in torpid depression and shallow ego,
You can come to me in letters, in signals sent on a breeze, in wisps of a falling feather,
You can come to me in hours, in long sunny days, in swimming through clear running water,
You can come to me in riddles and rhymes, you can come to me in backtrap contraptions and obtuse designs, you can come to me in hast, you can come to me doing handstands,
But come to me in ways unknown, in dune dancing rhythms, in speckles and spots of closed eyes,
But come to me in transgression, come to me with valor and chivalry, come to me in shinning armor, come to me in sunset scenes,
But come to me in midnight's caress, in crescent embrace, in swings and merry-go-rounds,
But come to me in along the shore, in skittering stones of breaking waves, in tip toeing fashion,
But come to me in character, come to me ready to dance, come to me ready to run, come to me ready to flee, come to me ready to fight, come to me ready to kill come to me ready to die, come to me ready, come to me ready to jump over fences, come to me ready to bolt, come to me ready to scream and laugh and shake and cry and fear and grin and come to me ready to do it again and again and again, but come to me, come to me, come to me, come to me, come to me… 

Image by Catherine Dentino