Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More from the Uptoon

During these hard economic times people are reaching deep to sell what they have that has some sort of perceived value in trade of In God We Trust Units. In this fellow's case it's his golden cannon with white wheels just like Team Dicky has, apparently this guy is trying to steal some one's thunder. My little buddy is such a trend setter, an east coast fashion plate for sure. Anyhoo, even though I do not have the same compulsion I hear it all the time, "I wish I had something worth value to sell." As I matter of fact I recently saw on the cover of a USAToonday that I did not buy that the recession is over. Someone should tell the de facto Cannon Salesman above that his artillery piece will have more faith based value if he just holds on to it a little longer. 4 MORE YARDS! In the mean time I am compelled to call the number and share my interest in making my first cannon purchase. Of course before I pay the price I am going to have to test fire the crew served weapon at least once to be sure it can accurately deploy a lead ball down range. I could drive it out to the country and commence with a real life gun drill to see how fast I can aim, load and fire the gun. When I know that it fires without malfunction I will then make an acceptable cash offer. If the seller agrees we will have a deal that would stand up in court and I will be the owner of a golden cannon. I will take it home and mount it on a round turret on my roof where the Dooleyville towns folk will see the golden barrel daily. Once a year on my birthday I will fire it towards the north with a real charge minus the projectile. Boom! Then when I die I will request cremation and to have someone pack me into the cannon's barrel in front of the charge and fire my remains off the top of a mountain towards the sun. Exit with a bang. I wonder how much he wants for it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For all y'all Star Wars Geeks


I took this image of 2 Bike Scouts(the one on the left with my bike) and Clone Trooper Commander Rex in the back ground on the square Uptoon this past Friday. BIKE SCOUTS CHOOSE LEMOND FILLMORE-FIXY STYLE




I apologize for not being able to write the above text in StarVader Font.

Monday, September 28, 2009

When Weather Changed the Future

A week or more of straight overcast skies with an occasional shower left no chance for a recreational bike ride this weekend. I guess I do have more utilitarian riding to look forward to in a few hours when the work week commences on commute with or without the atmospheric condition's emotional support. Yesterday when a soggy ride plan fell through things started changing here and fast. Botzie stopped by with his kids, at first to talk tech which led way to a complete smashing volley of Badminton out in the far back. I built the course(court) last week out of a bag that came as a gift a long time ago. Not quite as exciting as being on a bike but the game had its emotional ups and downs that at least reminded me of riding. Chasing the shuttlecock(long for birdie) and striking it hard while trying to place it strategically on the other side became a blurry mission. Sweat in the eyes, short sprint bursts, hitting the ground after diving for it all wrapped up into some sort of fun for kids and adults alike. Once we finished up the Briton version of lawn tennis without a ball we started the walk back to the house for some home made strawberry lemonade. Ms. Arcen and Gracie were behind me when I heard the kids scream, "SNAKE!" Reptile man Botzie jumped in to examine the specimen and without any trepidation reached down and picked up this little green snake and handed it to Ms. Arcen. Immediately after the kid realized that the snake could not physically bite or hurt her they became friends for the rest of the afternoon. I found the creature interesting to photograph and was glad that Jeff was here to give me some pointers on making a few images that would be worthy to post toonday. Here is the essay:

Kid meets harmless green snake.
Kid holds snake while the reptile becomes curious about its own reflection in the lens.
Snake is sort of cute.
Snake gives me the stink eye.
Forked tongue is good for eating.
Jeff holds snake and tells me about dropping the exposure to neg-1 and why I should.
Neg-1 in full sun while Jeff holds a plain black backdrop directly behind the snake now being handled by Ms. Arcen again to create a more clear image.
Child's hand cropped out and the sun is doing the rest.
Parting is such sweet sorrow when you are truly an animal lover.
So long Slither, until we meet again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Charlotte NC Tours

Yesterday I ran into 3 of my friends at the South End Cool & Cool after lunching on a delicious veggie Rye Bread Sandwich that the J dragged through the garden for me. From left to right. Carol, Kooch(the Giant Cop) and Dianna W. Dianna and Carol are partners in a new'ish bicycle related business in the greater Charlotte area. Charlotte NC Tours is taking folks out on historical, recreational and informative bike riding tours of various neighborhoods in and around Charlotte. I have stopped by their hub at 128 E. Park Avenue more than once to say hello, use their Internet and chat with a wide range of humans who enjoy riding bikes. The studio/home office on Park Ave is a friendly environment with a big couch to chillax on and an even bigger window to look out of. Next time you are out on an Urban ride in Charlotte stop by, park your bike inside or out and say hello to Carol and Dianna. If you tell them that Bill the messenger sent you, they will give you a free hug.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The South End is Near-Tandemonium

I was recently riding through the Queen City's South End in the light rain when I came up behind 2 folks on an old white tandem and a man child born in the nineties rolling urban Single Speed. It was obvious that my power was more than they had combined so I passed them with authority and was never contested. A few meters off the front and not looking back I heard a familiar voice in the rear view that shouted, "Bill!" I responded, "Bernie!" Just then something went wrong with the tandem's drive train and the 2 person bike grounded to a halt. I cut back and hung out with Bernie and his 2 friends while he gave it all in an attempted to undo the pro level chain suck/wrap between the 2 middle rings.
Assessing the problem is the first step in fixing it.
The chain was really jammed in between the center rings.
Any prepared tandem rider carries a Barnett Bicycle Institute approved crescent wrench. When pulling the on the chain as hard as you can is not enough, simply take the rings apart to free the rope.
One step closer.
Time lapsed, we sought shelter from the rain under a Toon awning and Bernie wound up having to break the chain and start from scratch. Apathy was written all over the face of the Single Speed Man Child born in 1995(3 years before I started couriering). Finally the tandem rolled.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

VeloCity Service Accord

In this image that I stole from his Website, Swazey is seen lowering his saddle so that while his work bike is on the roof of his 1976 Honda Accord it will clear the ceilings of various Uptoon Parking Garages. The other morning when I rode away from a delivery to my client at the Hearst Tower I rolled by Swazey walking past me wearing his 'messenger' bag without a bike. Hmmm, what did I see just after I turned the corner onto 5th Street. BIKE ON THE ROOF Swazey's work bike on the roof of his Company Car, a 1976 Honda Accord with faded hood that he bought in the eighties for a song. Apparently after he makes 5 more payments this half assed painted car will be all his.
In Accordance with CMA general statute 10-283(gs 10-283) a bicycle courier must ride their bike while on the job and not attempt to fool the general public into thinking that just because you are wearing a bag that you are out there pedaling around. NO CARS ALLOWED WITHIN THE BELT ROOKIE.
Looks like Swazey has this Accord nailed down, his hammer must me in the trunk.
Remember when you choose VeloCity your package may actually be delivered by car which will impede the arrival time of the delivery by around about 5-7minutes. Cars have to stop at lights, find adequate/legal parking and occasionally dare I say pull into a petrol station and pay for the fuel.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

C-130 Rolling Down the Strip-

Last night just before dinner I heard the 4 engines of a C-130 Hercules(seen here ejecting flares in a test of its missile protection system) a few thousand feet above the trees flying east from the Jar over the house. I grabbed the camera out of my bag and ran out the back door with enough time to snap this blurry photo. The tree limbs add some scale and even though the image is out of focus the composition still reveals the truth. This has been a photo project that I have been working on for a while now, be prepared for more to follow.
"Golf CO(Company or Crack Out, both are applicable) 2-4 take a little trip. Stand up, Buckle Up and shuffle to the door, Jump right out and shout Marine Corps..."

During my time in the military I never actually jumped out of a C-130 but we did sing about the action while running in formation during weekly PT sessions. Actually I only remember being on one of those planes once while on a Mediterranean Cruise that stopped in Naples Italy. Our little detachment took the C-130 ride from the US Navy base there to an Italian base near Venice. We did not jump out of it while the plane was still in the sky, instead we walked off of the huge transport plane after it had landed and come to a complete stop. I recall returning the ear plugs that had been given to me before the flight started to an airman holding the ear plug box.

I have been seeing more military planes of War flying over the Carolina skies than I can ever remember. The time is now, the magical instant before us. Although I have seen some fast moving and loud fighters flying high ops, the majority of what catches my attention is the east to west and west to east flights of the C-130 transport planes. For the past few months these flights have been pretty much constant on the every other hour coming in and out Charlotte. As part of my public awareness campaign I decided a few months back that when I identified one of these planes flying I would notify the closest person near me who was not paying attention to look up and think about what they are seeing. Of course when I point these machines out lumbering across the sky to whom ever is around they usually say something like, "Oh, there are a lot of military bases east of here", or "I wonder why they are flying". Actively choosing to avoid the reality is no longer an excuse for your own ignorance in my world. At that point in the public conversation I will politely remind the individual that the reason these things are constantly flying in and out of Charlotte directly above our heads is because we are at War in the Middle East, specifically in between Iraq and Afghanistan. The planes are flying here in support of both of those operations there which is easy to get lost in the translation of our sped up no time for anything culture here. Yup, those planes are carrying the beans, bullets and bandages needed to support the troops on the ground in the 'theater' of operations. The planes are also carrying: the troops and officers in transit in and out of the battle grounds, the wounded and dead, the liaisons for the contractors who are doing the jobs of the military seeing the military does not have enough people to do the job of war( Feb 2008: 156,000 troops in Iraq along with 183,000 contractors[a greater than 1 to 1 ratio]) and anything you could imagine that would be needed to logistically support such an effort 'over there'.

I say when you hear it, look up. There is nothing to be afraid of. This one is not even on the news it is simply and very much apparently without commercial interruption in the sky not far above our brains no matter where we may live. From sea to shining sea they are up there both day and night keeping the dream alive, all we have to do is look upward and then inward into our own self and we will see the truth.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday McAlpine Creek Greenway

Yesterday afternoon Mein Schatz and I loaded up the bikes and headed over to the Sardis end of the McAlpine Park Greenway. The atmospheric condition from the severely extreme weather center was overcast all weekend with a chance of scattered rain showers. I saw the radar image before we left and was able to conclude that all the rain was going to stay far to the west of town. Our ride was extraordinary and filled with surprises. The first surprise was Ms. Arcen's performance. She rode out and back from the Sardis End, to the East Harris end at the broken bridge with all the options including a new section(that I had not ridden before) seen in the image above faster than I can ever remember her riding. The kid did not even once talk about a scheduled break which usually she starts requesting after about 30 minutes of spinning. This day she felt better than great.
Ms. Arcen has always seemed comfortable out on physical challenge but this day's increase in happiness was so noticeable that during the ride I commented on her speed and fluid spin. With the wave of her left hand she let me know that it was not her, that the Cruiser was doing it all by allowing her to float on air. 3rd Gear in the Sturmey was good to her. Do you see her hiding in the foliage in the below image?
At the turn around point we left the bikes on the side of the greenway path and explored a side trail up a hill and along the creek. All was going well with that jaunt until I stepped into a human feces with my left foot. Panic, anxiety and a tinge of anger for two reasons. First I was not watching my step and secondly what would compel anyone to defecate 6 inches off of the trail. Major decontamination steps went into action and after she realized I was okay she laughed at me. Back to the broken closed bridge I found this Writing Spider hanging from the center of her web.
When we returned to the car lot we decided to do a 'cool down' ride out of the parking lot and right onto Old Bell Rd. Just before the end of the street on top of a hill on the left Ms. Arcen said, "Look a deer." I turned the bike and on top of the hill saw an ornamental yard buck. "Kid, it's one of those fake deer", I said as I cut back around towards her to continue down Old Bell. Just then on the right hand side of the road about 20 meters ahead were 2 real deer staring at us. Ms. Arcen appeared to stop breathing for a second as she smiled with her entire body. The bigger of the two leaped across the road and bounded up the hill towards the Faux Buck while the other one turned and disappeared into the woods on the right. "Amazing", she said with a huge grin. Truly indeed Mein Schatz.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photo Bike Tour

As I was logging on to post toonday's pictorial story this morning I noticed that this will be my 500th blog post. That's right 500 posts since starting this insanely addictive predawn non contact hobby/sport. Happy 500th to you Doctor Bloggy, perhaps you will continue with many more or maybe one day soon you will realize the futility of your sophomoric efforts and stop the tripe.

Last week from the safety of the fish bowl glass window inside the coffee house my little friends and I observed this local cyclist roll up, kick stand and lock his newly refurbished bike. The pretrial J suggested that I go out and take some pictures of the rig for a photo doc. I usually balk when someone makes suggestions to me that changes what I am thinking about or doing physically because I do not like being manipulated by the emotions of others. In this case the bike's loud calling and unique owner were out weighing any personal misgivings that I was feeling. I had met this fellow a few times before but it had been awhile and he was on a totally different bike. I asked if he was okay with me taking some pictures for my blog and he gave me the nod to go to work. An artist/scientist once told me that the amount of detail in a photograph defines the subject.

Please enjoy this virtual pictorial tour of a unique fly ride.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CMA Veteran Courier Busted-WALKS!!!

The J under a moving train in the Uptoon 10th Street cemetery. I Took this portrait of my co-worker in the fall of 2005. He looks the same with slightly longer hair minus the mustachio creeping. CASE DISMISSED: The verdict is in, justice has been served, the balance of the judiciary is in tact with truth in the Courthouse yet gain. I know some of you have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of CMA Veteran Courier the J's penal status related to the alleged incident last month where he was ticketed and accused of riding a two wheeled bicycle under, over or to the side of the Charlotte Light Rail System(not solution) gate arms which were down stopping vehicle traffic for the approaching train.

The J contacted me the night of the incident seeking my Pro-Bono legal council because he was worried about the steep fine of 135US dollars attached to a potential guilty verdict. At first after looking into the letter of the law by reading the entire NC General Statute 20-142 under which he was charged I advised him to go to the District Attorney prior to his administrative court date of 9/15/09 and explain to the DA that the jargon of GS 20-142 only refers to actions committed by car drivers, not pedestrians on bicycles. After sleeping on those instructions I then second guessed my own advice and told him he had a better chance to show up on the court day and speak directly with the DA just before he enters a plea. I suggested that he tell the DA the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help him Yahweh and that when the DA realizes the implications of enforcing such a ubiquitous charge that he/she will dismiss the State's case against him(the accused).

So, the Day before yesterday The J stood in line for the afternoon docket with the rest of the gangstas and their pink slips and waited for his name to be called to the front of courtroom 4403. After 55 minutes he was called up to speak with the DA before he was to be put in front of the Judge who was wearing black like the wings of a crow. The DA read through the charges and when he realized that The J had allegedly committed the crime while riding a bicycle doing his job as a courier he dropped the charge with a verbal but genuine warning to not do that again and to be careful out there because Charlotte is a very dangerous place to ride a bicycle. No kidding.

The J walked out of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse a free man with no litigation pending. Way to go Rookie, now all you have to do is remember to bring your phone to work.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harlem in The Jar, I mean Hizzle

The first order of this am's pre-dawn babble is that I need to make a correction from yesterday's post where I made Dremel a verb by spelling it dremelling. In fact if it were like snorkel it would be snorkeling, right? Anyway I should have went to print with Dremeling not dremelling which would have been a better spelling of a word that I made up. Either way the word does not exist so maybe none of this matters but I did wake up in the middle of last night thinking about it.

Meet Michael B. straight out of Harlem on to the streets of the Jar with his one wheeled lever operated Machine and orange Nathan vest for safety. I watched this kid work the other day Uptoon and was so moved by his skill that I decided to stalk him with my image maker. With Safety on his mind Michael crosses Tryon at Trade with a green light surrounded by the stares of Goofi(goo-figh). The time this image was made appears to be 1:13pm or 1313hrs Eastern Zulu time.
Mike B. with another safe unicycle line up on the curb headed North on Tryon, his vest alerting any on coming drivers, pedestrians, cyclists or crazy messengers with a camera of his presence.
Folks, I am not making fun of this awkward way to get around by half bike at all. With all of my 'experience' I do not have what it takes to ride a one wheeled machine even though I am not sure that I wanna go down the road looking like this.
MB makes it look easy. Do you have to carry tools while riding a unicycle?? His tire pressure looks a little low.
I have tried this half cycling discipline before indoors while shoving the industry 'working' at the shop a long time ago when I was trying to get the courier biz off the ground. I had a tendency to fall forward a lot and grab all the displays messing up the much needed and sought cycling apparel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

James, Pass me my 2lb Ball Peen Hammer, will Ya?

I found this old 4130(Cro Moly Double Butted Main Tubes only)Schwinn World Sport being thrown away with the trash on roll out day earlier this summer here in Dooleyville on one of my many morning Stay Alives. It was in near perfect condition for an old bike so I threw it on my back and rode it back to the barn for an unknown future project. Little did I know that right after finding this rig I would meet James W. from the who was in need of a ride more his size. James had been used to riding a bike way too big for him and this one was the perfect size. We just had to do the right thing and convert it to an urban Single Speed for him. Semi Horizontal drops are perfect for an SS conversion, until you take the derailleur off and find out that the drive side horizontal is half obstructed with a steel plate. Bastards.
Yes, I am wearing an old K & W Cafeteria Apron and as any wise owl would I am protecting my eyes with the latest version of the Ventoux by Tifosi while I dremel away at the useless steel blocking the full length of the drop. Check out the Sparks.
Success and calves that are getting ready to be sculpted into chiseled alabaster perfection.
James testing her out for the first time out on the street. Mountain Cockpit and SS chain line, this bike went from roll out garbage to hip in an afternoon.
New PC-1 and Surly Spacers.
The third most interesting thing that happened this weekend was when James came over on Saturday with his old 5 sizes too big bike and a box of parts that he purchased from Ultimate in Mathews for the conversion build of his new Schwinn. I was expecting it to go down in under 2 hours, everything looked in order and there was nothing that should have caught us by surprise. Within 15 minutes I started sweating and having that strange awkward dizzy feeling in my stomach that I have had before because I realized that steel would need to be cut and I was prolly gonna use my big Ball Peen Hammer more than once. As we all know the Dremel Tool and Hammer are not usually recommended by your local shop but getting this rig rolling was of highest priority, like finding Osama Bin Laden because we all know once we get him the entire world will love us. Anyway there was no pressure but James was really looking forward to having this new ride so we dove into it. I spent 30 minutes before he got here taking the useless gear shifty related parts off and prepping the frame for all the new singly stuff that he had bought. Drive train first. I pulled down a 45 tooth front ring from the collection of rings on the ring hook in the barn and realized that due to a bit of confusion at the shop James did not have the shorty chain ring bolts that I had requested. Chain ring bolts, dammit. James, pass me the hammer please. Through all crap on my bench I was able to piece together 5 small spacers for the back of the 5 regular chain ring bolts. Whew, that was a lot easier than just opening up a pack of new bolts even though it took about 35 minutes longer. Then the dremilling, not once but twice. Pass the hammer again, please James. Now put the new 18 tooth cog and spacers on that pretty wheel. No hammer needed but truing was. Okay, the new quill for the new mountain flat bars and brake levers is an inch and an 8th? Should be an inch right? James, the hammer Por Favor. Somehow we found what we needed in James' box of death to use the old quill from another bike that he had stripped down. 4.5hrs after he arrived at the barn for a sub 2 hour bike build James left happy with his new bicycle. I got a note from him yesterday and he reported that he went out on an 18 mile urban ride around town on Sunday. He wrote, "The bike performed wonderfully." Great glad to hear that and of course a good ride makes our efforts all worth it. He did say that he was almost vomited on by an inebriated Panthers fan who hurled in the road near the stadium. Life is Good!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday Road/MTB/Road Ride Ridden SS

Rolling self portrait on Goodman Road a few hundred meters from the trail head at Poplar Tent after leaving Dooleyville 1hr and 55mins earlier. Clint about to launch the stunt near round rock while Johnny Gunnysack and Richard look on.
Ugly steep short line that I thought I had done before put me on the sidelines toonday.
Clint rolls it like a pro. (view from the sidelines)
The pastoral setting of Poplar Tent.
Poplar's forest is inundated with the Fagus Grandifolia(Big Fag) which is the Latin name for the American Beech Tree. The American Beech Tree with its smooth bark and powerful stature happens to be on Bill Fehr's top ten list of favorite trees in the east coast woods. Check out that sweet SS line on my machine.
Misfit for sure.
Johnny Gunnysack leading the way.
In Cabarrus County on the return hour and 55 minute ride home I saw off in the distance blocked by a tree line this huge man made hill that appeared to be a mile wide and 500ft tall.
Upon Closer inspection it looks like I have discovered visual confirmation of a large earthen land fill.
Which would make sense for an hour later I had to cut through one of thee to stay on my course.
The second most interesting thing that happened this weekend was my 5hr/45min, 52mile ride plan for yesterday. I was out of the house on the Zion at 0820hrs for a 20 mile through the country cue to Poplar Tent where some of my little friends were gathering for a trail ride at 10. Single Speed on the road alone reminded me of the last time I did this ride and how stupid I thought it was then. Now I am doing this again? The way over was relatively uneventful but I did notice one thing I want to share. Apparently there was a 'big game' in town. I know this because within a 3 mile section of Harrisburg and Roberta Roads I was passed by 3 separate Goofi on similar looking motor bikes wearing their Panther flair. Not protective gear like the motorcycle riders in Sweden but FLAIR, NFL FLAIR. The first one that loudly(more noise that was actually needed)twist throttled past me was number 17 Jake Delhomme himself. Okay it was hard to tell with the helmet but he was wearing the white pro #17 jersey for sure. Perhaps just a coincidence. Either way the F-22's flew over the stadium not under attack while the American flag was unfurled under the banner of Bojangles and watered down schwag beer. Bill, keep your eye on the target.
So, hilly spinning and a boring asphalt race against the clock and myself. At 1015hrs a hundred meters before I reached the lot I saw a rider disappear over the jump section towards the start of the trail. I went into the woods too fast from the road transition and almost death launched the big dirt jump down low. Yikes! Once in the trail I stopped for a second and listened for the clamour of 6 fellows mountain biking ahead. At first nothing but then through the trees a faint, "blah, blah, blah, blah, vahvitty, vahhhvityy voo." Bastards. Moving towards them I came upon Eric first who yielded my way without recognizing me. Then Clint said, "Rider Back". Not just any rider, it's me! Our guide Johnny G-Sack led a spectacular ride at PT and good times were had as we toured the entire park at a rest pace. On the last option after the Swamp we rode into Bees or Hornets, a cloud of them swarmed and I was stung thrice. Knee, side stomach and left ass cheek. When the ride was over I made my way back across Cabarrus County and into Mecklenburg for another hour and 55min transfer. The only thing notable about the return ride was the discovery of a huge garbage dump where the over flowing containers from the 'Big Game' were sure to wind up. The American Dream lives deep in us all.