Monday, October 22, 2007

HFF 07: Festering Memories of Homies Falling

Here's what everyone cares about -- view photogs here.

Where to begin? The morning of Homey was a bit more hectic than I hoped it would be. This was directly related to the fact that I went to bed rather early the night before and was very much enjoying sleeping in. I was left Saturday morning with the responsibilities of getting Sylvia ready for the babysitter, digging out the Karate Monkey, packing, and finishing my costume. I was (surprise) an English country gentleman, an outfit which required nothing more than what I already had in my closet. Some mistook me for a golfer. These misguided folks I threatened to cast into the mighty Mississippi River, but I'd never really do that would I? (I should back up and clarify that I dressed as an English country gentleman; a friend yesterday reminded me that I did not necessarily act like an English country gentleman.)

Running late, I swerved by CRC Coffee for a quick caffeine fix and a Hot-n-Ready. I knew it would not be prudent to show up with an empty stomach and I would not have time to eat at Lyle's. B Rose was staffing the shop and the mood was so quiet and mellow (all the regulars off at Homey) that I entertained the idea of hanging out and taking in the peacefulness. All this running here and there sometimes makes me wonder why I have to perpetually be in a hurry to have fun. But off toward the madness I rolled.

Next I needed cash and beer. My canvas field bag (had to look the part) did not have the capacity of my full size posenger bag. Four Strongbow ciders, a 24oz Newcastle, helmet, flask and flat supplies had me maxed out. I crammed it all in and threaded my way through Uptown to Liquor Lyle's. I rolled up about 12:15. The sidewalk was already littered beyond capacity with Fall Festers.
The atmosphere was electric. You could tell this group had some serious potential for mayhem. I knew it would be a fun and eventful day. I mosied into the bar and signed in. I had time to sip a draft Newcastle before departure.
After a few highly enlightening introductory words from Sov (e.g. "We want you to get hurt, but we don't want you to die"), the 200+ riders rolled toward the Chain of Lakes and off into bike oblivion ...

Swanny floating on air ...

I'll spare too many details of the Midtown Greenway except that I am quite certain the myriad other trail users probably hated us. I know specifically one roller blader (who was quite quick on her skates -- thankfully) probably hates cyclists after the Bike Jerk himself nearly pulled a head-on and bounced her into my path. Smooth move. No one was hurt (... yet).

Sov won the first derby held at the Wells Fargo soccer field parking lot. Mad skilz that boy has for a flatlander. Farther east on the Midtown we pulled off at a baseball diamond for another derby and a round of drinks.
I offer a quick aside from one who is not usually found in the derby circle ... I want to derby, oh how do I want to derby. But I don't think it is the smartest thing to do on the heels of my concussion. That's my excuse and I feel better now that I put it out there. Secondly, I have a confession: I packed a helmet, but I did not wear it all day. I wore a tweed driving cap as part of my get up. Now, I have to admit, riding without a helmet is occasionally really fun. I see why motorcyclists like to go without and I can understand why some cyclists like to eschew the lid as well. But this creates a quandary because I am adamantly pro-helmet. I don't condemn those who choose not to wear one, but I have a lot of field data personally compiled that tells me I need to wear my helmet. And I do, just not Saturday. I have to confess I felt rather naked and vulnerable without it. That's the other reason I wasn't going to bump uglies in the derby circle. There's always a next time.
One of the coolest things about Homey (and other large urban rides) is exploring hidden trails in thickets, woods and parks that I ride by on a regular basis but have no idea are even there. The next leg of our ride took us to a hilltop on the west bank of the Mississippi River north of Ford Dam. Weather leading up to the weekend had been wet and cold for well over a week. Homey, however, was graced with sun and temps in the 60s. We all basked in the sun, had another beer and chatted with friends. I took the liberty of removing a layer of wool from my three-piece ensemble. I wasn't as sweaty as some people thought, but it got pretty steamy inside the tweed. If you're not a believer already, here's how you should read that: Wool breathes! Wool regulates! Wool is AWESOME!
Zito doesn't need no stinkin' wool.

CVO ditches the Hincapie look for something a bit more '80s ... a la Don Johnson?

The work crew ... Aaron, Dave, Reid, Matt, Tony and Seth.

Pimp Master Jay in da house!

Onward for the final push into the festival grounds ... . Innocent (non-cyclist) bystanders have such an interesting reaction to a huge throng of cyclists. The only frame of reference for many is Critical Mass. We were asked countless times whether we were a mass ride. Uh, no. Drivers are a different story. So many of them approaching a throng of cyclists from the opposite direction will continue to speed along, eyes fixed straight ahead, ready to mow someone down. Lovely. The ridiculous part is you can read the abject fear in the faces of these folks. They're scared of a few bicycles when they're the ones wrapped in a ton of internal-combustion steel and glass. Their only recourse seems to be to keep the windows up and the accelerator pedal down. Thankfully, no one was hurt (again ... yet).

Ryan and Katie roll in.
Mark shows off his homemade pannier.
Rolling into the dog park near Ft Snelling, which was to become our itinerant camp, things got pretty backed up. A narrow path greeted lots of riders of varying skill and ability. I stopped and took a couple of photos, including one of Kelly Mac taking a couple of photos.

Then I hitched onto Mark's wheel for a shortcut into the party. Here before me were hundreds of brothers and sisters. Nate already had a spit turning over a small fire.
Others were cooking on another small blaze. Gray Boy had a stove set up with a huge pot of mulled wine simmering. People were laughing, bikes wizzed by, flasks and bevvies were being passed around. I heard someone remark (and thought it quite apt): This is like a holiday for many cyclists in the area -- a chance to see all your extended bike "family" (dysfunctions and all) in the same place at the same time. It did indeed seem like we were in the company of family and it made me realize I have a lot more fun at events like Homey than I have had at some obligatory family gatherings in the past.
Blake (militant vegan) and Chris Anderson.

Kristy and H-wood and some guy who jumped in the photo, but who, oddly, doesn't seem a bit out of place.

Seth and I met up and set about to do some mingling. The problem was there were just too many people to mingle with. I like mingling, but it's not my greatest skill. The problem when I mix mingling with alcohol (or when I'm mingling and folks shove flasks and bottles in front of me) is that too often I don't remember what it is I mingled with friends about. Maybe that's just me -- it's about the overall experience, not the details of where you work or even what your name is. We're all just hugging our way down the same crapper together and that's good enough for me in some bizarre way.
Seth, founding member of the Brotherhood of the Crochet Glove, and Darcy model various PBR cans. (Not pictured: Trevor. His can was smallest. Sorry.)

Seth and an in cognito Zeigle.
Matt's State CX Championship jersey with Chef Rude in his view.
An Erik Noren creation I was told (several times) I was not allowed ride.

Gene O provides some much needed guidance.

This seems like a good segue to the "Feats of Strength." The boys of Surly (and their henchwomen) exhibit no shortage of ways for unassuming hangers-on to abuse themselves while making fools of themselves and entertaining the crowd. It's a brilliant strategy actually. That way they don't really have to entertain anyone; they simply create the means for the crowd to entertain itself. The next step will be to begin charging Fall Festers to come along and embarrass themselves.
Peter always looks interested ... in something.

During one event a young lady from Lincoln, Emily, unfortunately took a nasty head-first spill. Yep, this is the part where my allusions to no one getting hurt YET changed. She is okay but had to be escorted out by trained medical folks. Check out her situation here. (Scroll down until you see the obvious photo.) The mood of the gathering shifted dramatically. I had no idea what happened at first. I just recall things getting much quieter and a lot of folks scuttling about picking stuff up like it was time to go. I asked Gray Boy what was going on and he told me someone had taken a spill and that EMTs were on the way. Nothing like an imminent visit from the man to motivate the raucous masses into a sudden fit of sobriety. Several of us hung out up top to wish Emily well as she walked by, bandaged and bloody. We cheered her and thanked the EMTs.
We didn't leave, but we did migrate down the hill to the confluence of the creek and the river. Fires were rebuilt and festivities raged on. Gray Boy shared a little concoction he had steeped and I didn't seem to have much trouble with my hand being devoid of beverage at any given time. It was a good time shootin' the shit with the Surly guys and butchering people's names who were being introduced to me faster than my substance-addled brain could absorb it all. That's okay because I was outside on the bank of a river at a fun party with a bunch of down-to-earth cyclists. It got dark. Food was being prepared here and there. I caught the urge to sing. Why do I only sing when I am really happy or buzzed? Singing is so fun, so liberating -- kind of like riding a bike actually.

And now I will attempt to describe briefly a little Zen moment I had courtesy of Andy Corson. I had been driving home a not-so-subtle point over the past couple months that I had a serious hankering for one of the limited edition Surly 2007 Single Speed World's tartan wool caps. (It's a Scottish thing.) Well, nothing came of it except as the time drew nearer for Homey, Corson dropped a few hints that Homey Fall Fest would present an opportunity for me to claim the prize. As luck would have it, Peter R, Andy and I ended up around the same fire and the topic of the hat came up. Corson disappeared for a minute and came back with something in his hand for me. It was the hat. I was surprised and happy. Then, the moment came: Andy told me he couldn't think of anyone who'd appreciate the hat more. Then, he suggested I sever my attachment for the hat by burning it. This struck some deeply rooted Buddhist notion within me. It also was a half intentional dare. I tried the hat on, pulled it off, took a step toward the fire and neatly placed it at the apex of the flames between two fresh logs. Needless to say, Corson and Peter were both quite stunned. It just seemed like the thing to do in the moment. I didn't so it to prove a point or anything, it just felt right. I apologized to them and said I didn't mean any disrespect for the gift. And to prove it, I doffed my Harris Tweed driving cap (a fairly dear possession) and cast it upon the fire too. The planets were in some sort of alignment, or something.

My photos, not unlike me, flicker out. I forgot to pack batteries for the camera.
The rest of the night seemed to be in slow motion and I was getting restless. No one really wanted to join in with campfire singing despite my (I thought) stirring rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Beer supplies dwindled and I figured I'd about had enough if I expected to make it the 10 miles home. I yucked it up with friends and strangers a bit more. I even scammed Matt Anderson's last Wexford Ale. But soon I wandered off into the darkness with Paul Rude and his wife Jenny, toward the trail. About 9pm -- It was time to go. I grabbed my bike, but didn't make it far up the trail before I had to stash the steed off in the bushes and just sit to take in the mild evening (mid 50s and little wind). I sat by the trail and slipped into a little meditative state. Before long enough people making their exoduses out had asked me annoying questions like "Are you all right, man?" that I relocated through the bushes into a field all alone. I propped myself back in the grass and seriously thought about dozing off for a couple hours. The thought of April wondering where the hell I was jarred me back into reality, however. Hobbling back to the trail, I grabbed the Karate Monkey, hiked to the pavement, and proceeded to test my balance. Near enough okay -- time to push for home. Another great HFF. The remaining revellers would stick it out till about 3am I later heard. Way to go!


Snakebite said...

Great recap and pics. Nice to meet you this past weekend!

cvo said...

awsome write up, and great pics. I have been holding off doing a write up on the blog, cuz i've been contracted to do the story for Thad's local zeen lincoln ve-low.

I have been in contact with Emily every day since her fall, she actually went for a bike ride today..

I will hopefully see you soon, you gonna make the trek to nationals in kc... should be a good time.

i'll be drunk, and possibly naked.

have a good day


Andy said...

Nice. I think you should wear Paul Ziegle's crotch instead of a helmet from now on. Those testicles are huge and cushiony.