Monday, October 17, 2005

French Tiki

Dave is a magician, and a good one.

Not in the sense that his tricks are stunning and breathtaking, they are not. But rather in the sense that when his tricks go wrong and all to hell, he can still make them look well, like tricks.

Dave could pull a rabbit out of a hat and it could be insane and rabid and the audience would recoil and Dave will launch into an impromptu monologue and a little slight of hand and in a few minutes folks in the bleachers would be poking each other in the ribs and saying "See him pull that rabbit out of the hat, you ever see anything like that?"

One of the reasons Dave's daughter goes about wide-eyed a lot is that she is constantly amazed by daddy's antics that make a rainy day fun or make the dogs look silly or daddy himself.

I know these antics and I know his tricks go all wrong and I still keep falling for them.

A few years ago, Dave came up with an event called "French Tiki." It was simple: a group of us would go mountain bike the trails at French Creek State Park, a local 700 acre preserve where mountain goats either make it or wash out of their final intense Marine Corps training progam. Then a group of us, presumably the survivors, all go to the Tiki Bar, a local roadhouse known for, well, check the site out and make your own mind up.

Simple? Right. Reach into the hat, pull out the rabbit.

First rabbit out was an old guy named Murray who was just standing in for the rabbit which was out taking a piss.

Joachim showed up at the mountain bike rally on a road bike. With a kiddie seat. With son August strapped into aforementioned kiddie seat. "Hey, it'll be fine." said Joachim and off we went and it was. Joachim is a hell of a rider and can do things on a suspensionless road bike that most of us can only envision in cartoons. Trouble is it's still a suspensionless road bike. Joachim had to quit after forty minutes of heading over rocks and logs with August in the kiddie seat having his brain bounced around his cranium. August could have strapped a shaker to his helmet and mixed martinis all afternoon. Instead, he went balistic in less than an hour and let most of the surrounding wildlife know that he wanted to go home or the air raid siren of his screaming was going to get a lot worse.

Second rabbit out was drunk and obnoxious.

JT had mounted a bell on his handlebars and he rang it whenever he could free his hands up. That usually meant an uphill where we were all straining but didn't have to grab both brakes for fear of endo'ing. So as we scrambled up the loose rock in the dry wash, trying to get one wheel spin that actually held onto firm ground and propelled the bike another silly foot forward instead of sending rocks backward into the next rider-as we all sweated and strained and groaned and tempers grew short because there was no end in sight-as we all wondered just why the hell we were out here in the first place, JT regaled us by ringing that silly ass bell!

It didn't last long. Even JT, who could be obtuse on a good day and just plain thick on a bad one, figured out that bells would hurt when placed there on his body.

Third rabbit out bit the magician's finger.

Jen and Brian were newlyweds. Brian was a pretty good rider, Jen was just starting but put all her heart and soul into it and was keeping up nicely. When we broke and stopped for food and water, some of us opened up the energy gel packs.

Now these are a few ounces of emulsified, carbohydrate-laden something or other that you just kind of squirt into your mouth and get riding again. Pretty easy, except for Jen who wouldn't hear of it.

"I just can't bring myself to swallow that gooey stuff. It's gross."

Most of us stood quiet and embarrassed until Brian broke the silence.

"Well there's a salient detail of our sex life revealed to the world."

Amazingly, they're still married.

Happily too.

Last rabbit out was insane and rabid.

I had been riding on what I thought was enough nutrition to keep me going all day. Now I've never been a big eater but I've never been a big mountain biker either and I didn't realize that mountain biking can at times be positively Sisyphean in it's demands for futile exertion.

Witness trying to get up a dry wash with an idiot ringing a bell.

I bonked.

For non bikers, bonking is a condition of simply running out of energy, will and ability to do anything more complicated than sitting down and wimpering.

Thats bonked. Not boinked. Something else entirely and a really neat trick in the middle of the woods without getting poison ivy on places too embarrassing to scratch.

So I sat down. And I wimpered. And Dave happened along and realized what had happened and sat down too and told me a story and then we got up and walked the bikes to a fork in the trail and then we took a big downhill to a Ranger station where we had water and food and the next thing you know, the bleachers were poking each other in the ribs and saying "See him pull that rabbit out of the hat, you ever see anything like that?"

The ride was meant to be an hour and a half.

Four hours later, we gathered up the survivors from various points along the road. Of fifteen riders, nine had quit along the way.

And Dave made sure they all got home safely but not before they had stopped at the Tiki bar for at least some refreshments.

And of the fifteen riders, sixteen vowed to do it all again.

Nice rabbit, Dave.


Blogger Katrina said...

Security awareness failures
In my old SANS webcast titled "What's NOT Working in Security in 2004" I mentioned security awareness as one of the failures.
Blogs like this are so interesting. I'm going to subscribe to your feed if I can ever get my Rss agregator to work. It seems I do too much work with embedded system software projects these days. If I could pull away to learn a different application then I could call myself a developer. Oh well...

10:19 PM  

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