Sunday, April 24, 2011

Like Greyhounds in the Slips...

Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of the bar, heat lightning flashes in the near distance, just over the top edge of the curiously perdurable Inns of Virginia hotel across the street from Mad Fox Brewing Company, where I sit alone among what could only be optimistically and loosely called a crowd. Still, they are a persistent, noisy lot, and one can only hope that their livers, like mine, are exceedingly forgiving.

The Vaya is all but built. I have only to cable up the derailleurs (what an alien undertaking!) and wrap the Woodchipper in fine Cinelli cork, and it's all ready for a ride. It's about damn time, isn't it? Should be fully beta-tested before RamJam next weekend, where I can better experience how it shines as a randonneuring rig.

Slightly related, I recently picked up a new IRO Phoenix frameset (linked pix are not mine)—due for delivery sometime this coming week—in black for $199 online, to go with the workhorse high-flange hubset (pink is the new pink, which is to say it's the old black) I all but stole from IRO for $40 a while back. This because, well, dammit, I absolutely need another bike!

Switching topics again, in a blatant by-proxy effort to roam and experience, I've started reading Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey, by a gentleman with the unlikely name of William Least Heat-Moon. (The titular Q-word denotes “a noun, both singular and plural, referring to anything strange, incongruous or peculiar; at its heart is the unknown, the mysterious.”) The book is a lengthy travelogue of sorts, full of colorful accounts of small town Americana, from what I've gathered. Heat-Moon, accompanied by his wife, to whom he gives the curious appellation Q (quoz?), makes a journey by car in a series of short trips that trace the itinerary of the 1804 Hunter-Dunbar Expedition (the wha? Yeah, me too). This route takes him through the small towns and lesser trafficked backroads of Arkansas, Louisiana. Florida, Maine, New Mexico, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas, if the Publishers Weekly and Booklist are to be believed. Since I haven't read the book, I can't really comment from my own perspective, but it seems like Heat-Moon's search for the holy quoz is a gasoline-powered variation on the dérive so enthusiastically and refreshingly endorsed by the SI, may they drift about in peace.

I am probably making a small mistake here, both in sequence and in preference, as Blue Highways, Heat-Moon's first literary undertaking, and the first of his books I perused, preceded this book by 16 years and is more highly regarded by the vox populi willing to peck at the keyboard to share its opinion. Finally getting it right can be a blessing and a curse, because expectations set the bar high. Still, moderate success beats failure any day, and I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this book. It was, admittedly, an impulse buy. That's often how I find the best reads.

Specifics about my promotion at work remain nebulous; again, it's realization is a certainty, only the start date and salary remain unknown. Yeah, I think I fucked up, you don't have to say it. I am still restless; more so than ever. But there's still much left to do in the readying, much that is mandatory (the rest must be left to fickle Fate—anything overplanned is, almost by definition, sterile and lifeless and poisonously predictable), and I'll use the time wisely. On another front, I somehow managed to pass a background check required to volunteer my questionable mechanical and social skills to support Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit LBS located at Shirlington Village in South Arlington, and dedicated to providing "affordable bikes and bike repair service to our community." It's a once-a-week gig. I'll be meeting with one Kelly Auer next Tuesday to kick it all off. I met with her briefly last week, and was surprised to learn that she, through at least one of the extremely young mechanics toiling there, had heard of my clan, the Single Speed Outlaw Factory Team (SSOFT). According to Kelly, the young wrench had recounted a race (my guess is Big Bear) he witnessed, describing us as "a bunch of older guys who were kicking ass on the younger guys," or something to that effect.


Yeah, okay.


So, suddenly, I'm a fucking self-appointed saint. Expect the end of days to follow shortly. I can only hope the staff at Phoenix don't judge me by my lack of head protection when I roll in on my commute home next week. Until then, I leave all 14 of you followers (the blog is dead...long live the blog!) with a salty salute. Happy life!

P.S., do I drink this beer the chick tending bar just bought me? I don't ignore the irony that answering such a question requires lofty contemplation among the warm, loving, effervescent company of yet another beer, but this one is free. Is there really a choice here? And beyond the brim of the pint glass, through the window, nestled up and away in the velvety plushness of approaching night, the lightning continues insistently its pyrotechnic posturing, mocking the continence of the clouds.

And no one notices.

We are but a flash. Burn brightly.

P.P.S., just because:

Lovely the suns were in those twilights warm,
And space profound, and strong life's pulsing flood,
In bending o'er you, queen of every charm,
I thought I breathed the perfume in your blood.
The suns were beauteous in those twilights warm.

—Charles Baudelaire, from "The Balcony"


Tim said...

Cool to hear that the Barcroft earn-a-bike program is still kicking under the name Phoenix. I donated many of my cast-off parts, tubes, tires, and even a bmx bike found abandoned in my yard when I was living down that way.

Blue-eyed Devil said...

Tim, great to hear from you; I wouldn't have any idea who you were if not for the link to Troegs hooked to your name.

Glad to see that things appear to have worked out well for you there. Come on up this fall for the Bliss, yeah? You always have an invite.

Be well.

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