Tuesday, June 30, 2009
At 8 a.m. the Northern California representative from Mohawk Carpets, rolled up the off ramp in his mini van. We loaded my bike into the back and got on I-5, heading for Redding. "Jim, I hope you don't mind but I have one stop in Chico and then we'll get you back home." "No problem at all Bob, I'm just so grateful to not have to pedal up the valley in this heat!" I replied. We stopped at Floors By Ray and then we drove out North on Hwy 99E. "I like to cut over Woodson Bridge to Corning!" Said Bob. And then it hit me. There still is one day left of my Month long vacation, "I think I'll have you drop me off at the monastery in Vina."
It seems that I have a knack for arriving at monasteries around lunch time and the little Abbey of New Clairvaux was no exception. I was welcomed by a few of the monks who were carrying a large kettle on a pole that rested on their shoulders. "Welcome Brother, please lunch with us!" The Iron kettle contained one of the finest French Lentil stews I have ever eaten! The brick oven baked French Bread was a delight for the senses. My afternoon with the monks was a time of great personal peace and gentle encouragement. Most surprising was the Tempur-pedic mattresses used exclusively at the monastery. I slept like a dead man on a sand dune in Zion.
Now it is 5 a.m. I have had my breakfast and am getting ready to ride back to Redding. I'll make some stops along the way, nice and easy.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Well anyway, to make a long story even longer... As we rolled North up Hwy 101 just past Ukiah, I saw my out. Hwy 20 West to Clear Lake and then Williams. I let Father Herman get a gap ahead of me and I simply turned onto the 20, put my head down and spun for a solid hour. Eventually I decided that it was over. I arrived here in Williams last night, camped out in a small grove of Eucalypti, and now I'm sitting here at the Williams I-5 North on ramp, waiting for my Mohawk Carpet Rep. to pick me up and take me back to Redding.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Spent last night literally dodging in and out of buildings and alleyways, here in Ukiah, California. I cannot seem to shake this man! He has become the lunatic-and-monster-underneath-my-bed-incarnate. It's almost as if he were reading this blog and seeing my every move. Or someone who reads it is somehow sharing info with him.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Even the thought of a confrontation with someone, anyone, is enough to put me in a cold sweat. Usually, when I attempt to let my point of view be known, I either totally water-down my true sentiments or I go completely over the top like Steve Martin's Neil Page to John Candy's Del Griffith in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And so it was with some trepidation that I broached the subject of a possible fork in the road with regards to my continued return ride home with Father Herman. It was somewhere during this excessively long, stammered out horse crap, that Father Herman produced a heretofore unseen Bowie-style Hunting knife, which he began whetting with a stone. He seemed to have developed an extremely dry mouth and was continually licking his salt encrusted lips and glancing furtively at me. I volleyed back with a whey faced askance look that I am sure pretty much conveyed my intention to deal with this like a man. I will ditch him at the next possible opportunity!
Friday, June 26, 2009
As painful as these long days in the saddle with Herman's endless chit-chat rife with hidden agendum are, the nights really aren't much better. Father Herman piously camps and cooks his pathetic little gruel meals, while I duck in to the Motel 6 and dine like a king. In the morning he's out there waiting for me to emerge from my warm room (chilly on the coast!). Then, it's off for another long day, repeatedly interrupted by stops for prayer, stops for devotion, blah, blah, blah. I just hope that on one of the long descents (we see coming up on our maps) that Father Herman doesn't blow a tire while entering a right hand turn at speed and go straight in to a guard rail, flip over the edge of a cliff and fall a thousand feet to his death. Holy Mackerel! I really need to have a talk with him.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Father Herman and I are working our way home; up Highway 1, North of San Francisco. I keep almost reaching a state of NO-MIND-ZEN PEDALING when suddenly Herman yells out some loaded question that simply cannot be answered without implicating my state of being as that of some kind of base, animal existence and quite frankly, makes me want to destroy him and then decide whether I'm nuts or he is, after the fact. Finally I could stand it no longer and I screamed out, "Oh yeah, then why did you refer to me as a Nancy-Boy?!" "My Brother, you are taking things out of context!" He calmly explained. "When we first arrived in Dijon France, you said you wanted to drive up to the town of Nancy for the prologue of the dauphine. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry, this is very awkward, in Europe alla da people luv me!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
"Your bicycle is here, it's loaded and ready to roll. Mine is here too and I hope that you will ride with me." said Father Herman. "But where is San Fran Cup! He said he would ride home with me!" I yelled. "Don't be a fool! No individual San Fran Cup actually exists any more than some one named Polyphosphate Filter does! Who do you think is running the show! There's a reason why they call it electrical theory instead of electrical absolute. Hmmm, Electrical Absolute, Are you hungry my Brother?"
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We arrived back in the good old U.S. of A, late last night. I laid my weary head to rest and had a truly terrifying dream. I was standing on the platform of a train station waiting with hundreds of other souls for the last train to arrive and take us away from an imminent apocalypse--an apocalypse attributable to the band of fools with which I had been directly associated, a band I had followed further and further down a fruitless road of cerebral ruin. The very act of standing upon that platform would have been deemed a huge cop-out by many of my so-called "Friends", so I had told no one of my decision to abandon the "Quest". Suddenly, the train arrived and began to fill up fast; it filled until it was bursting at the seams. All too soon, a whistle blew and the train began to move out of the station with hundreds of people, including myself, left waiting to board. In a last desperate act of cowardice, I began to plow through dozens of women and children, knocking senior citizens to the ground, all in an effort to get on board that train, to get out of town. Behind me, I left a huge mass of humanity, screaming and weeping, begging for one last chance to escape. I sat there panting and sweating, my eyes downcast, as the train gathered speed. I nervously hoped that no one left behind had recognized me and seen the disgraceful actions I had taken to escape the horror. I awoke to the sound of the telephone ringing in my hotel room, it was the front desk telling me I had a visitor. A Father Herman to see me.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
My travels these past few weeks have been many and marvelous but a telegram that I received from home conveyed a message that must be shared. Just before leaving on my month long sojourn, I decided that I would officially hang up my bicycle racing career and become Human Resources Communications Manager to Team NOT-FIT-RACING. The message I received said that one of my riders was seen out in the Swasey Recreation Area climbing up the backside of The Escalator, on a Cross-Bike. This I assure you was a strategic ploy to be seen by the many scouts who frequent that area. We hope to be picked up a by a major sponsor this coming CX season. My friends, we may have hit the big time!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
One good thing about all this travel is it has given me time to work on my small collection of, work-in-progress, screen plays. One in particular is an adaptation from a novella I wrote back in the 80's entitled "Kozinski's Dinner Pail." The strange and sordid tale of a semi-lovable, puerile character who, due to chronic explosive gastric intestinal syndrome (CEGIS), begins to take out his frustrations on the fast food industry (to which he is hopelessly addicted) by leaving metal lunch boxes on their premises full of highly odoriferous, bio-hazardous materials. The boxes were painted with white letters on the outside that read, "BOX OF FORBIDDEN MYSTERY! KEEP OUT!" The story ends with the public hanging of old Ted who, while standing on the trap door of a gallows, wearing nothing but a rope necktie, screams out the unforgettable words, "For 500 years a mighty oak grew in the plaza of this town! Now, 500 years after it's death, nobody knows nuthin' about no oak!" And with that he reaches over with his foot and kicks the lever, becoming his own executioner.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Contacted my good buddy over at San Fran Cup. He says he got phone call from Father Herman. Apparently Father Herman attempted to glean some inside knowledge as to my whereabouts. Upon hanging up SFC immediately called a relative in Eureka. Thankfully my bike is now in safe keeping. SFC says he is enjoying my travel-blog but wishes I would share more of my culinary experiences. I must say, Cairo will probably not top my list of favorites
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
We arrived in Athens Greece today after another tumultuous, exit-stage-left, groupie-groveling departure from the show last night. I must admit, Ferrous Heifer kicks some serious butt up there on stage. I am just now starting to let down my guard a bit after a heretofore unmentioned incident wherein I may have shouted some inappropriate slogans regarding Father Herman's general character, upon stepping off the bus. My only concern now is that I will certainly never be able to set foot on the property of Table Bluff Monastery, which happens to be where I left my touring bike. I will call my good buddy San Fran Cup when we get to Cairo to see if he can somehow meet me in San Francisco with my bike, as well as his. Hopefully, we will ride back home to Redding together.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Rupert said that since we were in Italy and that I seemed to be a bicycle nut, he would take me to a very special place. I must admit, I was not disappointed!
Northern Italy’s Madonna del Ghisallo chapel enshrines cycling’s greats.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Under the cover of darkness, in the wee hours of the morning, I grabbed my rucksack from the overhead compartment and crept off the bus while it was being refueled. I wandered around in the predawn shadows of Geneva for a while then finally ducked into a cathedral and caught a few winks in a pew. When I awoke it was light outside so I walked down the street to a small cafe and had a Cafe Suisse and a lovely Liverwurst sandwich. As I sat there eating, a man came out to the sidewalk with a large coffee and asked if he could join me. "Sure!" I said. He told me his name was Rupert and that he and his "Mates" were members of the Heavy Metal Band, Ferrous Heifer. "Oh sure!" I yelled. "You guys are the ones with the demon-looking mascot who comes out on stage during the show and squirts milk all over the crowd from a huge rubber udder!" "Ya-Ya, But there is so much more to us then that!" He cringed. "Where do you play next?" I queried. "We are flying out to play Venice tonight, then it's Athens, Cairo, Dubai, Bombay, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and then, we finish up in San Francisco 10 days from now! Need a lift?"
Friday, June 12, 2009
Enough is enough! Father Herman is growning more and more surly by the day. Now that he has trounced me on Mont Ventoux he has taken up calling me "Nancy-Boy!" We are back with the Quickstep guys again, so my plan is to ride the bus back to Geneva Switzerland and then bail, thus freeing myself from this megalomaniacal Monk once and for all. Got a letter from home today telling me that a group of my friends back home will be riding on Saturday morning, 7 a.m. Hornbeck Trailhead. Gosh, I wish I could join them!
So as we stood atop lofty Mont Ventoux, I just shook my head in disbelief as Father Herman walked around talking to people, shaking hands and even signing autographs. He thoroughly kicked my ass on the climb and still looked fresh as a daisy. Finally I could stand it no longer and I walked over to a man who Father Herman had already talked to and asked him how he knew Father Herman. The response once again was a beaming, "Alla da people luv Herman van Springel!
Herman van Springel (born 14 August 1943) is a Belgian former road racing cyclist, from Grobbendonk, in the Flemish Campine or Kempen region.
He was an accomplished time-trial rider, almost winning the Tour de France in 1968, when he was beaten in the last stage by Dutchman, Jan Janssen, ironically in a time-trial. In the autumn that year, he won the classic Giro di Lombardia.
He won seven editions of the marathon Bordeaux-Paris. He also won the green jersey in the 1973 Tour de France without winning a single stage. However, he did win five stages during his ten participations in the Tourrance. He kept on cycling through the seventies and ended his long career at the end of 1981. But that doesn't mean he's not still out there handing it to yokels like me on a regular basis. Ouch!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Imagine standing up out of the saddle after five hours and forty minutes of riding to stamp out the finale bit of Mont Ventoux. Ironically, the music for this video is exactly what I heard in my head (yesterday) while Father Herman and I rode up it. He played the part of Richard Virenque to my Lance.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I saw this funny little poster in a cafe that is a french graphic arts student's version of coffee in America. I suppose it's true enough, that is, until the economy nosed-dived and they closed a million Starbucks! Father Herman and I are forgoing today's time-trial and heading straight down to Mont Ventoux to get a jump on the crowds that are no doubt already gathering.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Last night Father Herman announced that we were going to a very special dinner party here in Dijon. He told me that I should bring my rucksack with me, because were moving on afterwards. Around 7 p.m. we walked to a hotel, not far from the finish of today's stage. Upon entering the lobby, Father Herman and I were warmly welcomed. A man took my bag and we were ushered in to a banquet of magnificence and stardom the likes of which I have never known. The most amazing thing though is that Father Herman has got us on the Quickstep Bus as VIP's. Later, I was kicikin' it with my new buddy Tom Boonen and I asked him why Father Herman was so popular with the bicycle people, especially the Belgians. Tom replied. "Ya, alla da people luv Herman van Springle!"
Monday, June 8, 2009
This past week has been one of the most topsy-turvy, unexpected, seven days of my life... unless you count that time in the summer of 1987 when I went to "Rock-N-Roll Camp" with Motley Cru as our host. (cue flashback clip!) We arrived here in Dijon late last night. Father Herman seems to be a bit of a celebrity especially amongst the cycling crowd. I am surprised to hear people ask if he is still riding, but then again, how much could I possibly know about an enigmatic monk whom I met two days ago? I just hope we don't end up meeting with Lance... that was another crazy week of my life! Lance the cyclist that is.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Rode out to the South-Jetty area near Loleta Ca. Met with Father Herman at the Table Bluff Monastery, where once again, I received an excellent meal. Father Herman then asked me to accompany him to his study. We talked about my ride over on Hwy 36 then he mentioned that he had raced bicycles in Europe back in the 60's. He asked me where my travels would take me next and I told him that I really had no particular destination in mind. With that he turned and gazed out a window that over-looked the ocean below. "How would you like to accompany me to Dijon in the North of France?" He looked back to me. "The Dauphine Libere Bicycle race rolls through there on Monday and we can drive to Le Mont Ventoux for a spectacular alpine fifth stage." My mind was reeling. "How in the world can you arrange something like that in such short order... You don't even know me!" "My son, the little statue that you carried here is no accident! This trip has been arranged for months now, but Brother Jure has been called to our sister monastery, St. Nilus in Ouzinke, Alaska. Because of this, we have an extra round-trip ticket out of San Francisco Airport. We leave tomorrow and will be in France on Sunday. We shall return in 10 days!"
Friday, June 5, 2009
Arrived in Fortuna this afternoon and spent some time just riding around town, chatting with locals and reminiscing of a time (35 years ago) when a small band of hippies (myself included) came through here and outlaw camped right in the city park. (hassle-free!) We were heading over to Cape Mendocino, hoping to find the exact spot of the continental United States' western-most point. I must say, we were really out there, no pun intended! I called out to the lighthouse monastery on Table Bluff and have an appointment with Father Herman around noon tomorrow. I am just a little creeped out with all these "coincidences" and will be happy to drop off the statue and move on.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Well I had a great opportunity to try out my fenders and rain gear today as the heavens opened up with a fairly good thunderstorm. As I lie here in my cozy little tent outside of Bridgeville, I am going over things that have already surprised and amazed me. Take today for instance, I was riding along noticing a dazzling cloud phenomenon wherein the sky appeared to take on an iridescent shimmer the color of a salmon skin. Not long after that, I realized I was riding past a suspicious looking van that I had seen earlier in the day. I got into a slightly paranoid head-trip with regards to the statue and the million to one odds of having my dead Irish Grandmother's favorite Saint in my bike bag. Then I remembered that we can plan our day but we can't plan the outcome.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Upon finishing a most excellent lunch of lentils and rice, a monk arrived with a note from Father Rose saying he would like to speak to me before I continued on. I was escorted out of the mess hall and then down a long corridor to a small work shop wherein an old man (looking for all the world like Rasputin) sat painting an Iconic Image of Saint Demetrius. The monk who accompanied me spoke. "Father Rose... this is the man you requested we bring to you!" "Yes, yes my son, I am Father Rose." I told him it was nice to meet him and I thanked him for lunch and the blessing of my bike. "You are most welcome my son!" "And now, I will ask a favor of you." He reached into a drawer and produced a miniature statue of a saintly looking woman and handed it to me. "I understand that you are making your way west, over to the coast." "Will you carry this statue to our monastery in the Fortuna area for me?" It is a representation of Our Lady Of Fatima, the monastery sits atop Table Bluff on the coast."
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Got off to a nice early start yesterday The bike seems to be rolling along just fine, even at 65 pounds! The climb from the high bridge over Clear Creek up to Igo was tough and long. I've had plenty of head-time out here! It wasn't too far out of town that I realized I had forgotten to have the bike blessed by Father Westling, as I had planned. Then it occurred to me that I could stop in to St. Herman's Monastery (in Platina) and see if Father Seraphim Rose was there to bless my bicycle. I arrived around 1 p.m. whereupon I was immediately ushered to the dinner table and fed, while my bike was taken off for the anointing. These monks are such wonderful people, I am starting to think I might just stay here all month!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Well I'm off! Not sure how my GPS-Land/Sat-Link-Up will work out there but we'll see. In the mean while, The Polyphosphate Filter will be guest hosted by the ghost of Miguel de Cervantes. I will try to keep ya'll current of my doings but please, welcome and enjoy my friend Senor Cervantes as his most beloved literary character,
El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.
El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.