Sunday, January 7, 2007

Adrenaline Part II

So, I'm kind of reelin' from the fact that I was finally able to upload a photo. Big whup to many in the audience, but for some reason my combo of smarts and hardware have prevented this for about 5 days now. Yeah, huh huh ...

Anyway, who is this Patch O'Houli anyhow? Patch, aka John Woodruff Fleck, was born a poorish boy to 70s parents on a rental plot in West (by god)(sic) Virginia. Young Patch learned one way not to skid a bicycle after an epic 20ft slide in his father's store (gravel) parking lot at the tender age of 6. The lesson took a while to sink in. Since then he has managed to always orbit near the epicenter of the bicycle, whether racing or commuting. He's won medals and the informal trophy for "Most Crashes in a Season." He's driven a car a lot in between and lived to tell about it, if only he could remember. You see, the o'peculiar thing about Patch O'Houli is that he never outgrew the bicycle; he could never shake it from his mind; he could never displace the memory of pedaling for the subtle regularity of a car payment; he could never succumb to climate control rather than the honest grip of weather's whim; he could never replace a stereo for the streaming music ready for the ears. What a freak. Yep. But that's me, err, him. And he, for better or worse, is our narrator from here on out.

Oh, and one more thing, the name. Patch, as we will from here on out refer to him, came to bicycles in earnest while in middle school. He raced a fair bit as a junior, but missed the opportunity to dope with the pros since he discovered girls early in high school. He fell out of training and went to college with a well-rehearsed plan to become an engineer. His plan backfired at every turn, however, and he left school for an adventure on a famous Eastern hiking trail. Patch drifted with a fractured foot, officially homeless for 6 months or so. His hair had grown by then and he developed a certain penchant for a fragrant Asian essential oil. Soon after he met, and his moniker was coined by, Dean Houts of the Knoxville Academy of Bicycle Wisdom. (Perhaps some have taken classes under the tutelage of Prof Houts.) The "patch" portion was a given since O'Houli has but one eye (considering it, however, far too easy to take the pirate route for costumery at H'ween). The "o'houli" was added once Houts discovered the source of the hippie aroma everytime our young protagonist entered the room. Under Houts' watchful eye(ha), Patch studied dutifully in such topics as Inebriated Trials Riding. While he may have not earned the highest marks in trials, his earnings in inebriation were quite exemplary. Exhausted from his studies, and pursuing a failing marriage, O'Houli took a break from bicycling for several years to explore climbing, kayaking and extemporaneous woodland bivouac skills. He fled from a corporate consolidation in Tennessee to a dysfunctional operation in Minnesota. After the first winter, with his soon to be ex-wife safely packed back to The Volunteer State, Patch re-emerged on the bike scene in fine form, promptly executing an endo on Hennepin Ave in the summer of 2003, resulting in 4 stitches. Feeling the adrenaline coursing once again through his veins he discovered fixed gear riding (thanks to new wife, then girlfriend, April). He quit the dead end job, went back to (a real) school and took up with a prominent distributor of bike giblets. Seven bikes and one kid later, Patch is racing road, track and cyclocross like there's no tomorrow. 'Cause, hell, there may not be. Anywho, Patch would like me to tell you there's nothing like x-cross. Just check out the photo above. And for any of you aspiring juniors out there -- just keep riding and don't start working at a retail bike shop. If you disregard this admonition, at least don't let some guy named Houts take you out to drink tequila.

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