American Dreams are Made in the USA

Last year was the end of my own personal “fiscal year”. I turned another year older. It allowed me to reflect on last year being a time warped dichotomy.  It was both the worst year of my life and in some ways the best year of my life. It was the slowest at times but yet it went by so fast leaving me wondering where it went.

I closed my shop unofficially sometime a few months ago. The time-frame is as blurry as are the details. It happened so fast that I’m still in shock. I still work on making things right with the bike community because it’s the right thing to do and I truly love bikes. I work out of my house, two storage units and a host of other jobs. I work almost every day, all day, and most nights. Simply, I’m hustling because I want to, I have to and it’s what I’m supposed to do. 

While this last year tore me down emotionally and financially, I grew emotionally and spiritually, and overall as a person. While things were at their worst, I was growing the most. While people always joked I have a “me” complex, I’ve always known I really do care for others. This is one of the areas in which I really grew – the full concept of empathy. I might not have shown it yet with my words or actions but if you’re reading this blog, chances are good I have thought or am thinking of you. 

So with all these epiphanies in mind and turning my own calendar, I’ve developed this renewed passion for pursuing the “stuff” that makes me happy. Spending time making up for lost time with the family, slowly reaching out to friends and working with my hands – tinkering.

I’ve recently started working on extra project ideas that I’ve developed over the years. One of these is taking a big step towards becoming a reality within the next few days. I’m hopeful all of the “successful failures” (aka mistakes) I’ve accumulated can combine in this perfect storm of bikes, friends and family to pull back all the bits and pieces of my life that spun off last year – at least the pieces I want back.

For now I’ll leave you with the mystery of “what is it”? until I launch. Just know it’ll be made in the USA and I’m hustling every day.

Thumb Shifter aka Kent

August 1, I will return to the Bicycle

The last time I rode a bike was on a Sunday morning ride – when I supposed to meet the crew under the Blairstone flyover. Problem is I read Big Jim’s Facebook post wrong and was a day late. Latched on to some old friends and rode out the Fern to Tom Brown. I felt really good on the bike. That is until I bailed to get some riding in (because they were to busy stopping and talking). Grooving the lower section I caught a glimpse of some Bike Chain orange and black. It was D from Guardian. He made me suffer on some of the climbs up the multi-use – and he was on a totally rigid single speed. Other than that I rode pretty good. A glimpse of me back in the saddle. Then the bottom fell out, I sold my bike, hurt my back and otherwise off the friend-grid. So my return to two wheels will be on Sunday, August 1st. Who’s in?

Return of the Dragon

Twas the Night before… redemption (I hope)

I hope this is not false… hope. I hope this nervousness I’m feeling is the good kind. A little on edge because the new boss starts tomorrow. Not because I’m not capable, but because I’ve lost the last six months to something I thought I wanted. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I just know I put everything I had into it and came up short. That feels bad. Double down that I was up for one of my dream jobs but came up short on that one as well. That feels double bad. This post isn’t a request for sympathy, just an explanation of why I have been gone. With those dreams pushed further out of reach (at least for now) I’ve had to do some heavy thinking. Shut the door and sit in the dark thinking. I’m on the eve of starting a new chapter. A re-investment in the things I like and love – family, friends and bicycles. I’ll come by soon and re-introduce myself. I’m sure I be on the receiving end of some well deserved shit. Just remember the harder you push on a weeble, the harder they wobble.

The Butcher

Red Bug Challenge – April 11th – warmer weather and better prizes

This is a shout out to all MTB racers of the past, present and future. We’re hosting the second annual Red Bug Challenge in Tallahassee on April 11. This is an awesome East Coast track with lots of fun and prizes. All the Tallahassee bike shops have stepped up to support the event. A portion of the funds will go to the Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association. So whether you have a 5-step rig or an old beater, break it out and come get you some.

Register or more info –

The Butcher

A Broken Clock is Still Right Twice a Day

More than 10 years ago I found myself at a New Year’s eve party. It was at Tim’s house. It was nicer than the usual parties I had been to before. Long Shanks isn’t afraid to party, he was just doing it a little be classier than what we had been used to. Nice buffet spread on the dining room table. Music, games inside. Fire, grill and a bar outside. Two things stick out from that party. One, this one of my times my abrasiveness was really over the top. It reared it’s head when you combined a youthful me, alcohol and the game Taboo. Imagine me laying on the Taboo buzzer with one hand while grabbing my crotch with other, topped off with me screaming get some of dat mother f*cker! All the while Brent’s parents were in the same room mortified. I was quick to apologize which was even more quickly nullified by my next outburst – eat my *ss b*tc! I was hammered – It was awesome.

The other thing I remember even though I was deep into the liquor was the cigars. That was during Brent and Tim’s cigar phase. As the clock struck 12 somebody busted out the stogies. Unfortunately, I decided to hot box the cigar. I used to love the sweet smell of a cigar. Now I’m drunk and this disgusting cigar film is in my clothes, nose, mouth and most certainly lungs. That was the least of my concern. I’d carry this film for a solid week. Not a great way to start the year.

This year (last year actually) I started early. I got my mind right and wrote down some things that are important to me. Things I believe I can accomplish in 2010. Even before that I’ve been doing some basic things like push ups and a little core work. That’s my biggest issue at Felasco. I can ride 50 miles any day of the week, but my upper body will pay. In my mind I had some rides that I needed to hit this week. These were must do rides or I can’t pull off Felasco. I spent NYE in bed shivering from fever. Did that on NYD in the morning but pain meds helped. Then we went to my parents for lunch. Champagne and push ups. If I can’t get in a ride, I need to do something. The champagne wears off and I begin to shiver – again. I guess we won’t make it to Tim’s party. London drops me off at the house and I spend it holed up with meds and a dark room. Last night, here comes the elevated heart rate and shivers again. More meds and sleep. This morning I feel better but still a little off. By mid morning temp and shivers are again on the rise. Three days of temp can wear on you. I now know I’m defeated.

All these years later I now know I have this heavy film on me again. It’s beauce I know I won’t make it at Felasco. I’m out of time. Nobody to blame but myself. It is a little bit of buzz kill because I was up and looking forward to the new year. Looking forward to our annual trip. Getting back into the groove of hanging with guys and riding. Not just Felasco but making the Tuesday ride and getting Thursday lunch started back up. To top it off nobody believes it or cares that much but I’m in training for the GSC. Except me. I know that I’m good for it. But being wishy washy really is ammo to say same ole same ole. As always the proof will be in the pudding. I hear rumor that micro will be bailing at 25. That might be more agreeable. We’ll have to look at it over the next couple of days. If everybody was going today I’d bail. We’ll reassess tomorrow.

The Butcher

You Can’t Start a Fire in the Rain

Wow. You get older, you feel older. Massive neglect the last few years, especially last year has finally caught up to me. I arranged a play date for my bike seat and taint on Wednesday night. Turns out that was the least of my worries. The left knee was chirping from my one and only catastrophic hyper extension in my life. It was when Revolutions had a soccer team, the Revolutions Dogs. Streaking down the line at full speed, my knee fully extended the wrong way. I was out for the game and should have seen a doctor. But I was young and it was all good. It hurts now and then, but not enough to cut on it.

That knee chirping is drowned out by some unknown force plucking at my low back. The back of course was severely injured multiple times. It was back in the day when I would ride trials with Big Tony, Brent and Jaysun (RIP). Those rides and falls were the catalyst to my first introduction with a chiropractor. Bouwaiinnnn. Was that my back? No, just keep pedaling smooth. Bouwainnnn. The single notes keep playing for the first five miles and I’m thinking there is no way I’m doing Felasco.

At about mile six I start to meld back into the bike. I make an effort to relax. The only thing that is really bothering me now is the neck. Nothing I can do here but put time on the bike. I know it will hurt the next day and the next. One of those push through it things. The neck was originally injured bench pressing in high school. I was a little punk that couldn’t hardly lift 135 pounds in the 11th grade. PE for football players was weights and football. Within about six weeks I was benching more than 200 pounds. I felt like a bad ass. But somewhere along the way I wrenched my neck. To this day it hurts if I am stressed – mentally or physically – which is to say it can hurt all the time.

So yesterday as the day went on I went into a rainy part of my head. The neck and trap area became more and more sore until I took some meds. I feel bad enough that I am sick. Cold in a hot house. No problem I think. It’ll be good enough in the morning to ride. As I awoke this morning I discovered rain and a scratchy throat. That makes a little more sense. Sick I can deal with. I’m just a little run down. So… I still plan to put in my 20 today, double the mileage from Wednesday night. I need help though. It’s raining in Tallahassee and in my head. Anybody got any flint?


2010 – a Kent Odyssey – class, you will be graded

Boot Camp; Focus and Disciplined; 20, 20, 10; Red Dragon. All of these except Boot Camp were failures. It’s hard thing to look back at your failures, especially since you want so badly to make a difference. It hurts even worse when you believe you were being more responsible when neglecting yourself. For those that know me you understand kids, bills, Pimlico, Pop Warner football, the storage shed, etc…. For those that don’t “know” me I’m sure these just sound like excuses. On some levels they are. I’m just like everybody else, trying to balance life. In reflecting on this year, and nearing the end of my third decade, I came to some conclusions. While I try my hardest to do what I can making others happy, I am missing the most important person – me. Looking back on these blog posts I laugh at myself for whiffing at the plate after calling my shots like the Babe. So for 2010, I’m pulling the ultimate do-over. These are the things I plan to do. Add, edit or delete as you see necessary. As always, insults welcome.
  1. Do the right things for my family
  2. Continue Bike Chain and related companies
  3. Listen more, talk less
  4. Ride more, talk less
  5. Eat and drink better, and do it slower
  6. Promote three events in Tallahassee
  7. Sponsor a third party race series
  8. Re-enthuse the Florida Mountain Bike Association
  9. Win the GSC
  10. Spank at least 2 of the crew at BUMP – in a skirt
  11. Buy a small car and keep it clean

In the great words of , well me, you are either a winner or a participant – and I don’t plan on participating.


The day Florida (and we) was Frozen

The coldest day in my life was January 11, 2004. Sure, I’ve been in colder weather. There was that time in the eighties when I was a kid. It was below 10 degrees and they had cancelled school. I was still sent to go get the newspaper in the morning. We lived in the woods and the driveway was dirt, twisty and a couple hundred yards long. I was in a t-shirt and no shoes. I wasn’t out there long but it got cold quick. There was the time in the nineties in Colorado when we climbed up the monte cristo mountains (they’re really called something else, but the name was close enough to nickname them after the Bennigans sandwich). Us mountain bikers hiked high, beyond the aspens, across a frozen-over creek and finally into a snow covered mountain top valley that had a lake. We skiid on our butts. Big Worm got pissed. His ankles were fried and we did not bring enough food. We were in shorts and pull over jackets, but we were exercising and the sun was out. It was cool but not cold. Last year I was able to go skiing in Breckenridge. Lot’s of time on the Internet searching deals turned a $10,000 vacation into actual cost of $3,000 for a family of four (this included transportation). It was one of the best times of my life and want to ski again someday – maybe January of 2011. It was very cold with good snow. But the sun was out and, here’s the biggest thing, we were dressed properly. It also helped we were staying on the slopes and could get warm at any time.

So it was we found ourselves getting dressed on an uncommonly cold morning in High Springs, Florida. It can be cold in the morning in Florida, especially in January. But the sun always promises to come out, and the temperature almost always rises above 50. Some of the years we’ve ridden the Tour de San Felasco it has even been warm, like 70 degrees warm. It’s also been cold, albeit cold by Florida standards, so we know to layer. Watching the forecast on the relic of a TV at the ball scratch inn, we know it’s going to be cold. So we begrudgingly suited up. Each of layering up as we always do. All of us expecting to shed some, maybe even most of this gear by lunch. We even went with head gear. Reminding ourselves you can always take it off.

We’re late as usual and most of the 300 riders have started the Tour. It was cold in the hotel parking lot as we leave and even colder when we arrive at the frost covered parking area at the San Felasco State Preserve. We are all bitching about the cold but we still have that promise of warmth as the day goes on. The high was nearly in the sixties yesterday so it’s not going to be that cold, right? We’re all dicking around with our bikes and gear. The ground crunches under our feet as each of us goes through our own pre-ride rituals. I just want to get going cause I know riding will get us warmer. Especially when you get in the singletrack. Normally the woods are colder. There’s no ambient heat to draw from, like from buildings, asphalt, etc… But on cold days like this singletrack can be your friend because there is no wind.

It’s been five years now so the details are a little fuzzy. But I can tell you I mostly remember being very, very cold. When we started out the temperature was somewhere around 40 degrees (maybe a little colder). It never got warmer. In fact, this was one of those odd ball days where it actually gets colder as the day goes on. Compounding the cold is the lack of sun. Cloudy skies are topped off with wind. By the first check/feed station we’re all complaining. As we get closer to lunch everybody starts talking about the soup I hate. They’re also day-dreaming out loud about going to the car and warming up for awhile before tackling the second half of the Tour. I myself am in pain. The weather is not that bad by northern standards but for under dressed Florida boys it is very cold. We’ve been in the elements for about three hours and my feet are hurt the worst.

The idea of going to the heater sounds good. The cold has me feeling like somebody slipped a ruffie in my water bottle. I’m hallucinating about warmth. I have just enough of my bearings to know that if I go to the truck I’ll never come back out. I’d be done for the day – not something I want on my riding resume. There is still some lobbying as we approach lunch. There is always sun at lunch, where you can usually see people spread out resting and eating. There’s none of this today as people are huddled together, sipping soup and sniffling their pink noses. I don’t care about any of this. I’m in survivor mode. I know what I’m looking for but I can’t find it anywhere. Finally I break down to scavenger mode. I pull out my multi-tool and cut out two big sections of a used trash bag. These are the heavy duty thick and black variety so I think they will be a good substitute. I go find a place in the grass. I wipe off excess waste from the crappy soup and discarded half eaten PBandJs. I cut the heavy plastic some more and then I’m faced with a choice. At this point it’s like removing a piece of wood or glass from an artery. You know it going to be worse but you have to do it at some point to fix the problem.

I finally work up the nerve to do it. I remove my shoes and touch my feet. They hurt to touch because they have that numb, tingly feeling. I wrap each foot in the plastic. I then force these frozen plastic burritos back into the shoes. They are a force fit but I’d rather have an uncomfortable fit if it means they can be a little warmer.
We saddle back up and complete the ride. I can’t remember much else, other than being miserable. I do remember the thawing process back in the car. How it hurt but felt good at the same time. I remember thinking I’m never doing this Tour again. The official high and low for that day were 42 and 26. It was cold and miserable. I’m hoping for just miserable next week.


Felasco = Dark, Tales of a 50 mile bike ride

Nearly one year ago I was having a great time, save for some scratches on my neck. We were working on hour number two at the Tour de San Felasco. This is an annual bike ride pilgrimage to High Springs, Florida our crew has been making for nearly 10 years. We have a crew with varied skills and fitness levels so depending on who you are, the 50 mile off-road trek takes five to eight hours to complete. This year was no different in many ways, but it was different in many ways. I was ill-prepared as usual, but was having a great time. Leading up to the Tour I’d been commuting because my shitty Chevy Tahoe was broke down. This gave me a false sense of capability. At hour two it was all jokes for me. I was going slower than I wanted and even checking on other guys to make sure they were OK. With nearly 20 riders in our now trademark black and orange, there was ample space on the trail to move back in forth in the group. Some of our faster riders had checked out after the first check/feed station (about mile marker 12). That did not matter because I was having a blast.

My neck was already sore – not from riding though. It was from cloth burn where Micro ripped off the remaining bits of my shirt – part of my incredibly fat hulk costume. That was in the middle of a Target toy section. We were looking for green face paint to make my costume more realistic. Everybody had dressed up like an odd ball the day before for the drive down. As usual I had not prepared properly and had a pretty pitiful job of making a costume. It was, however, hilarious to look at our group dressed up like clowns at the Gainseville Ale House. Perhaps it was the beer, Micro’s wrestling roots or a combination that provoked him to attack me in Target.

My plan was to eat and drink with minimal stopping. The plan was to NOT stop at lunch. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the Tour. For me, the soup is horrible. The only thing worse than the overly seasoned chicken noodle, is the indigestion in-a-bowl red colored concoction. For all I know it’s chili or minestrone or veggie. Others rave about it. Whatever, I hate it.

All of these thoughts were going through my head. I did not know it then, but we ended up stopping at lunch. I had no way of knowing that I’d feel great a lunch. That I would spend time rushing Steve (aka Mac) and Swoell (aka Lyle) so we could keep the momentum up.The clock would be ticking for me – Steve and Lyle would have trouble too. This would be the best Tour yet, mostly because that added more single track. Unfortunately, that meant less double track. In the later miles double track becomes your friend because it travels faster than tight, twisty trails.

I had no way of knowing that in about four or so hours, I’d enter one of the darkest places ever. I’d learn that mile 40 and beyond are not good for me. I would later discover my suspicions were correct. That Tour organizers ran some of the sections backwards, and that the one big switch back climb would be later in the ride. For me, it would end up being excruciating. Leg burning induced hatred. No longer would I be able to joke. I’d be unable to complete a sentence without some form of the word f#ck. I ended up so deep in the hate cave that I would not come out for more than a month.

This year I’m slower, fatter and the last time I rode a bike was November 8th. Added this year are a few extra layers. My back is injured and I’m riding a 29er rigid single speed. Bring it on.