Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tour de Felasco 2018 Enough at 50.

The Tour de Felasco was last week. 

In general it was a dismal affair, as it so often is, cold and long and lonely.  This year there was the added pleasure of long stretches of wild pig ruts.  Enough to convince me.  I didn't once consider shivering my way back over those pig ruts in reverse to make it a 65. 

Except for our bike group all gathering for a joyous cocktail hour back at the nice, warm hotel when it's over, San Felasco in January completely lived up to it's usual level of north Florida misery.  I guess that's the reason we go back year after year.  It feels so good when it's over?

Something for everyone.
Easy flats.

And pukey, after-lunch climbing.
OK, that was my own fault. 
I broke the first rule of Felasco. 
Don't eat the chili at the lunch stop.

Peter's been living in DC for a few years now. 
Check it out . 
40 degrees, short sleeves, and a big smile.

I realized I had taken very few picture throughout the day,
so toward the end I stopped three or four times, 
trying to catch a photo representative of the trail.
Along came Greg and Lora.  Perfect timing! 

Kinda rare to see a fat-tire tandem on trail. 
But a tandem fattie AND a Swamp Ape?

Glad I choose not to do the 100k. 
The shadows are already long by my 4pm finish.

The newly redesigned Cabot, aka Doubletree.
We miss the fireplace, the free cocktail hour, and our favorite old lady bartender!
By bringing our own cooler, we still don't pay for drinks, though.
(Showed them.)

Mike, Sean, Gobbler in flip flops, and Altar Boy.

Diane and John.  The selfie pros.

See you next year, Felasco?
Nah, don't think so!
(Well, maybe.)  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The first ever, lumpy, bumpy, god-awful, totally awesome BINDeR 100k

It's a Thursday morning. 

Small Package waves and pulls his UPS truck into a side street.  I pedal up to the drivers side of the open panel truck so he doesn't have to get out.

"Still going to the Death Loop?" he asks.

"Yup, we're planning on it," I say.  "Even though my legs are still shot from the BINDeR."

"Mine too!"  He says with a grin.  "I don't know why I'm doing this!"

"Me either!"

"So, guess I'll see ya Sunday, then."

"Yup, see you there!"

I pedal away, shaking my head.  Why do we do this stuff?

I pedal home at a sedate pace.  My legs really don't have any snap today.  I had started out for Wickham Park but called it good enough by the time I got to the back alleys through Eau Gallie.  It's surprising because I rarely get sore and almost always recover from being tired with a single night's sleep.  Feeling that slightly whipped feeling four days after a ride is highly unusual.

By Friday, I get it.  It's a good old fashioned cold coming on.  Sneezes to start and then that thickheaded feeling on Saturday.  I had a cold last year, the first one in ten or fifteen years.  I guess I was expecting another ten or fifteen before the next one. I'm a little dismayed at  further ruin of my record, but not surprised.  Popeye came home from work with sneezes a week ago.  I only hope I can fight it off in 3 days like he did.      

And I probably could, if I were to stay home.  But the Death Loop is coming.  And who among us can resist a good Death Loop?  Not me.   

So, all week, I've been stubbornly trying to shake off what I assumed was the after effects of the BINDeR.    Turns out the BINDeR wasn't really to blame. 

But it was a completely reasonable mistake.    

The BINDeR 100k - a brand new ride with all the alluring ingredients for an off-road suffer-fest.

Weenie's been working on this one for awhile.  64 miles of cross country riding.  A series of trails through southern Brevard, into INDdian River county (BINDeR, get it?), and back again to Malabar in a wide loop.  100k.  Singletrack, doubletrack, some gravel is advertised.  No pavement. 

Weenie gives us the lowdown at the start.

We pretty much knew from the start it would be mostly god-awful, lumpy, bumpy, palmetto-root ridin'.  With a mix of sand, fences to climb, and maybe a shoe-sucking, goopy canal crossing or two for variety.  And we weren't wrong.     

Weenie's route began in Malabar.  Twists, turns, singletrack, then double.  Ever southward down toward the Grant landowners land grant.  Or some title like that.  Just try looking up landowners grant - in Grant.  Google seems confused.  And so am I.  There's sure a lot of information about land grants - for everywhere but Grant, Florida. 

Whatever.  There's a vast tract of scrub in southern Brevard County, down toward the C54 canal and the Sebastian River.  And you need to pass through a mind boggling maze of gates, trails, fire roads, and roller-chopped-to-prevent-fire roads, to get through it. 

Snack stop.

Some fence hopping.

Some of the more defined track.

Sign of civilization!

We wind our way southward through the scrub.  I am not watching the mileage.  But somehow, someway, after enduring a long, jaw rattling stretch of roller chopped trail, we pop out at, of all things, a welcome station, complete with restrooms and a screened in porch, on the gravel road along the north side of the C54 canal.

It's half way, and an excellent place for a lunch stop.  We spread out, sprawling across the porch chairs in the shade.  Peanut butter and jelly is the order of the day, with one notable exception.  Mark has a bona fide sub sandwich.  It's been in full view the entire time, riding enticingly in the pocket on his Camelbak.  It is the envy of nearly everyone.  Everyone but me.  I can barely choke down one PB and J, a nibble at a time.  I save my second one.  Maybe once we're done, I can eat it.  Not now, for sure.  That turns out to be a good thing.  There's about to be a change in plan.

Originally the 2nd half of the route was planned for trails to the west, through some place called the Stick Marsh, and then back north to Malabar.  But the stick marsh is on fire. Weenie decides the eastern route is more prudent.  There will be pavement after all.  And I am with some of the strongest fat-tire-on-pavement guys around.  Then again, if I get dropped, at least I know the road home. 

So our tour of the stick marsh will have to wait for next year.  We head east on the gravel road along the C-54 canal.  The dike is so high no water can be seen until we get to the spillway crossover.  We wait in the shade for the last few guys to catch up, and I stop in the middle to look at the canal.  It's big!  Yes, I've been here before, on a mid-summer hash last year.  But the only sight I cared to see on that 90 degree day was the cooler at the half way. 

We cross to the south side, where there's more gravel to grind before reaching the road.  Alongside one small canal, a man holds up an enormous bass while his wife takes a picture.  It's at least three feet long, with a mouth big enough to hold a cantaloupe.  I have never seen such a fish in my life. Why I didn't stop and take a picture, I can only attribute to herd mentality.  I have no wish to be left behind - at least not until we are back in the land of pavement, street signs, and Google maps.

And soon we are.  The final obstacle is a sissy looking, grassy-sided ditch to cross in the back of a residential neighborhood.  But the ditch is just a little too wide to jump.  The first two guys splash in over their ankles and I know we'll all be riding the last thirty miles with wet feet.  What I wasn't counting on was being the only one to step in a hole.  My left foot strikes on fairly firm bottom and is merely wet to the calf.  The right plunges down past my knee, into gluey muck. 

Gak!  The Keens - yes, with socks (hey, it was a chilly start) - are both coated in black, slimy goo by the time I crawl up the other side.  While the remaining few guys take their turn, I make an executive decision to remove my socks.  Inside out, they are size ten pockets of thick goo.  Now what?  I push them up under a nearby bush.  They were my favorite old XTerra socks, but they've done their duty now.  Although they probably deserved a better retirement.  I ease my bare feet back into the slimy Keens, and prepare for some fat tire pacelining.

It's been a while since ditching the road bike, but paceline etiquette comes back quickly.  Popeye leads out with a massive pull, then Pete takes over for another.  I take on the role of self appointed gatekeeper, letting in the lead guys as they drift back from a pull, and never taking a pull myself.  I have no illusion of hanging on to this group any other way.  Mentally, pacelining is a high-alert game of sucking wheel.  Physically, it's amazing how easy it is to hang at 20+ on a mountain bike, when you're mid-line with a dozen strong riders.

But easy or not, it's still a paceline.  If you aren't the lead dog, the view never changes.  There is a side-blur of mail boxes and horse pastures, and frequent peeks at the long stretch ahead.  But the crucial focus is on holding the perfect gap.  The rear wheel ahead spins relentlessly upward, just inches ahead of my downward spinning front wheel.  Falling off the pace may be undesirable, but touching wheels is far worse.   There is no time for sightseeing now. 

The final miles take forever.  Yet, they end too soon.  The lead guys sprint off the front for the last quarter mile.  I sit up and look back over my shoulder.  There are a couple riders way back there, but more than half the group is long gone.  

The rest is an easy glide to the parking lot.  Two bikes lay flat on the ground, riders alongside.  Popeye has the car doors flung open, all business, already scrubbing off.  Riders trickle in, in various stages of exuberance.  I might have heard someone throwing up. 

More riders arrive.  The coolers come out.  We toast to sand and roller-chopping.  To the worst god-awful trail through the scrub.  It is by far, the best 64 miles any of us have done all week.   

Most of our friends have brought real beer, but Popeye and I will have to wait for Malabar Mo's for that.  Meanwhile we make do with our cans of Coors Light.  It goes just fine with camelback-smashed PB and J.


Next week, the Death Loop. 

Next year, the Stick Marsh.  

And hopefully, a couple hundred god-awful, totally awesome rides in between. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

10, 100, 1000 resolutions. Or, why I quit the Beer Can Scramble.

February.  The month of abandoned resolutions.  

Is it just me?  I get tired of being resolved.  My brain rebels or just plain ignores the plan.  So, habit is usually my only hope.

Those resolutions we all made back on January 1st?  They are either habits by now - or they're not. 

I made a lot of resolutions this year.  A LOT of resolutions.

10, 100, and 1000.  My resolutions for 2017.

10 = pounds to lose.  (Duh, always that damned 10 pounds!)

100= miles per week on the bike

1000= 1000 NO's.  A little tougher to explain.  But basically, there are so many times when I regret saying yes.  Yes, to the Weasel in my head who begs for donuts or pizza.  Yes, to some stupid activity I don't really want to do.  Yes, to tolerating people whom I really can't tolerate.  So in a whole year?  A thousand no's seems about right to me!

But lets' start with the easy stuff.  Which is, of course, the bike. 

I am slowing down in my older and wiser years.  Just riding my full suspension around for fun.  No road bike.  No pacelines.  No Ironman.  No regrets.

Guessing I did about 5500 miles (street and trail) on my mtn bike last year.  So, a resolution of 100 miles per week should be pretty easy.  Just shoot for a ride every day.  Something will come up - guaranteed - once or twice a week.  But five remaining rides of various lengths should add up to more than enough. 

No particular plan, of course, not training for anything, certainly not racing any more.  And having Strava makes keeping track a breeze.  Besides it's good to have some goals - even general - non specific - sissy retirement goals.  Like 100 miles per week.  

Just a day at a time, doing something you like.  The easiest kind of habit there is.

The other two, not quite as automatic.  And no easy, peasey Strava to help me out.

For the 10 pounds, I keep my own logbook.  Most days anyway.  So, most days it's not all that hard to stay on track.

But then, there are those stubborn, fighting-back-every-step-of-the-way, brain wrenching NO's. 

The hardest thing so far this year was to step away from The Beer Can Scramble. 

It's been about four weeks now.  I don't miss the sameness of riding Turkey Creek - the exact same 10 mile trail - in the exact same direction - every single Tuesday night.  But I do wonder what I might be missing when it comes to the beer-after portion of the ride. 

Of course I have always wondered that.  

The guys have their kitchen passes and stay for dinner and beyond.  My self imposed kitchen duties demand that I get myself home to my husband and put some dinner on the table by 9pm.  So about 20 minutes of socializing is realistically all I'm missing anyway.  Yet, it's still requires some self-pep-talking not to wonder what I'm missing every Tuesday. 

But that's how it is with NO's.  Always evaluating.  Weighing the costs.  Social and otherwise. 

Saying NO habitually would be just as short sighted as saying yes habitually.  Which means that saying NO can not be left to the luxury of habit.  Which makes it hard work for the lazy, rebellious chunk of my brain that so often rules my head.

So - the 10 pounds?  Yes. I. Can. Make. Eating. Less. Food. A. Habit.  (Eventually.)

100 miles a week?  Absolutely.  Habit already.  

1000 NO's?  Much tougher. 

Got a start, though. 

One down.  999 to go.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Riding in Secret. Scouting trail for the Full Moon Hash.

My very first job - after babysitter - was kitchen worker.  My ride to work was a bulky blue Schwinn that was my sister's before it was mine. 

There were fewer No Trespassing signs back then, but I met my share of dead ends checking for shortcuts between home and the back door of the village diner where I leaned my unlocked bike every morning at 6.

Some things change.  Some things don't.

Strava in privacy mode.  I duck behind the strip mall.  Looks pretty promising.  There's a long skinny strip of grass between the long shabby building and a long skinny fence.  At the very end I can just make out an open gate.  The bike rolls through a narrow stream of cloudy water seeping from the back of the 24 hour laundrymat.  Hmm, a little closer and I can tell that, yes, past the gate hanging open, there's a walkway leading to the right.  

I roll right up to the gate before the No Trespassing sign is actually visible.

"Dead end," someone chuckles behind me.    

Two young guys are schlepping paint cans out the open back door of the soon-to-be out of business hardware.

The guys don't seem a bit surprised to see a middle aged woman on a full suspension Lefty fetched up at the end of their particular back alley.  Or even surprised that I add my laughter to theirs. 

"Yep, another one," I say.   As if I do this sort of thing all day long.  (Which sometimes I do, but usually just for an hour or so at a time.)

This is Florida.  It is not safe to ignore No Trespassing signs, but I am curious.  "So, where's the passage go?" 

"There's like, a patio back there.  Total dead end."  And I know a kindred spirit.  Of course he's checked.

We all check.  Shortcutting kitchen workers, teenage hardware employees, and of course, suburban hashers looking for new trail.  There is just no passing by a double track, back alley, or hole in a fence without taking a second look.

What I am hoping to find is a way to come out far enough down the block to be out of sight of a possible halfway stop across the street.  Oh well, the answer is not here.

Today, my local quick suburban route of about 15 miles has yielded 3 surprises.  I've ridden this way dozens of times, so you'd think surprises would be, well, surprising.  But no, there's always something new if you're really looking.

"There's a shorter way past the soccer field, but I'm not sure they always leave the gates open," I told my co-hares last Sunday as we scouted trail.  Mental note: check later when I happen to be nearer the other end of the block. 

So, my second surprise of the day is a good one.  Not only is the gate in question hanging open in the middle of a weekday, but there is an enormous gap in the fence not far away.  As for No Trespassing signs.  Not a single one.  Yes!

I continue riding, with no intention of further scouting, just the need for an hour's worth of miles.  But something unusual for our flat suburban neighborhood catches my eye.  Clouds of black smoke billowing up a few blocks from the beach.  It could be one of the countless shoe-box houses in this town... or, oh no.  It could be the tiniest patch of wooded park in the county.  

Sure enough, the one and only patch of wooded singletrack in town, a postage stamp sized patch of woods behind the public library is on fire. Not just smoldering, but really on fire. Flames shoot straight up from the cabbage palms next to the parking lot.  Black smoke billows skyward while county workers watch from their white pick up.  Caution tape is warped across the road out of the park, which also happens to be my route home.

I roll up to the truck.  If you are simply curious - and nice - nearly all public workers are more than willing to answer questions.  

Down comes the window obligingly.  Controlled burn? Downed power line?  Arson?  I'm just curious!

This time the answer is controlled burn.  Supposed to be done a month ago. 

Beats crazies in the neighborhood.  I guess.  The result is the same, though.  Another bit of shiggy (hasher speak for off road trail) gone for now.  Hopefully in a month it will be passible again.  We'll see.  Meantime, not a bad idea to scout some bypasses as soon as it all cools down. 

Meantime, the fire may be just getting started, but the day is getting on.
Fortunately there are other exits for someone looking to elude a bunch of caution tape and just get on home. 

At least there are if you're on a bike.  And you know where there's a hole in the fence.

Full moon hash...  Feb 11, 2017

Waiting for the hounds to arrive.
Hares re-upping flour at LongDoggers halfway.

Hounds begin to arrive at halfway.

Hounds begin to arrive for slam bang beach bonfire ending.

The Santa Cruz, my ex-bike.
Finger owns Flash now. 
And definitely dresses him better!

Down-downs under the full moon.

Swing Low.

* If the idea of a hares and hounds sort of bike chase appeals to you (and you're over 21), check  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

San Felasco - dim skies - dark mood - wet shoes - poor signage. Wah wah wah. Oh well. And on-on.

Any day on the bike is a good day!  Even this one.  I guess.  Which started with promise, at least.

I know.  Wah wah wah.  So just get over it, right?  This is mountain biking.  It's not supposed to be comfortable! 

Discomfort, ok fine.  I am used to that.  Being duped by poor signage.  Not once but three times.  Now that I resent.

Which resulted in getting miles off course.  Then a couple knee deep water crossings and an uphill run at puke hill to get back on.  Then being spat at (or maybe it was supposed to be a raspberry?) from guys I thought were friends.  Really, is it a competition here?  With the likes of me?  Passing the old lady all by herself with only her wet feet - and the echo of your raspberry - for company.  How cool are you?

Anyway, I admit to having a less than fun day, ya know?  Which is unfortunate, because the Tour De Felasco comes but once a year.  

There is one real benefit from bailing on the metric century and only doing fifty miles, though.  Something I have never before accomplished. 

I was back ahead of the fast guys and actually got in while there was still some pizza left.  A first!!!

Popeye with some of the guys at the start.
Spitter not shown.

Felasco has it's own version of gloomy beauty.

So.  On to happier days. 

Like our Sunday stop at Santos for a quick run at Nalys and Ern N Burn on the way home.

Sunnier day.  Sunnier mood.  Serious swooping. 

And no spitters in sight. 

Worth the trip right there.

Last but not least.  Scoring a pink beer at WOB after with the last of the weekend's die hards...  

Yup.  All better now. 

Bad day?  What bad day?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A gift of apples. Hurricane Matthew and a tangled Tuesday. Apple Crumble.

Email from 2 days ago:

Any deals for me?  Thanks a lot for letting me experience for sure what a Krummy bike I have now

Sure.  Anytime, good buddy!  Oh, and btw, thank you for the apples.  They made a delicious apple crumble and I gained five pounds overnight.

A gift of apples, the loan of a spare bike...

That's what friends are for, right?

I don't know of any bikes for sale right now, but deals almost always happen along eventually.

As for the apple crumble...  Super simple and super delicious.  Therefore probably not a true act of friendship passing along the recipe. 

But then again, much like a bike deal, some occasion for desert almost always happens along eventually. 

Like, it's a Wednesday, for instance.  Or someone gave you apples.

We had a hurricane a couple weeks ago.  Well, not really.   We had a potential hurricane.  Put up the shutters and evacuated all the way to Orlando.  Which takes a lot of dire convincing from the weather channel. 

It could have been bad, but it wasn't.  Matthew zigged when he could have zagged, and we got off lucky here. 

And so did the trail.  It's been worse, for sure.

Just the same, lots of downed trees and brushy debris at the Tuesday ride a week ago.  Had it's way with Kurt's derailleur.  

Tuesday tangle after Matthew.

Gobbler always has a chain tool.

Good thing there is beer for the end.
After this we gave up
and took the short cut back to drink it.

2nd Tuesday after Matthew
Less tangled.  Mostly cleared.

And what's left, mostly duckable.

Kurt on my Superfly 100

A gift of Apples!
Thank you for sharing, Deb, Kurt, and Sean!

In Florida, hurricanes bring out old memories.  We are all on a first name basis.  After the ride, on Kurt's pool deck, talking about Matthew brings on memories of Francis and Jeanne and Ivan and Wilma.

These are the Octobers you remember if you grew up in Florida. 

But some of us knew October in a different world.  A world where October meant windfall instead of wind.      

I think of Owen's Orchards and look it up on Facebook.  Amazing.  It's still there! 

Owen's Orchards.  Farm Market and Cider Mill.  Elbridge, NY. 
Right there where I left it so many years ago.  

Northern Spies.  Macintosh.  Cortlands.  New York State's own version of October magic.  Pick your own.  Mother would lay down the law - no climbing, no throwing - and off we would run.  Climbing, throwing, eating, and yes, even picking some for the basket. 

Today's crunch. Tomorrow's pie. 

1200 miles and a whole lot of years away from downed power lines and freezers that need scrubbing.

So, in the midst of the hurricane chatter, when Deb said, "We've got something for you", a sack of fresh apples was about the last thing I expected to see.  It turns out I am not the only one to know of October magic.

Hey, if you can't have the pleasure of a visit to the north country to pick your own, the next best thing is having friends who did!

Which brings me to what everyone really wants from a biking blog. 

A recipe. 

OK, not really a recipe...

Guidelines, more like.  Adjust to suit yourself.  You know.  Like borrowing a bike.

Apple Crumble

For the Fruit layer:

6-8 apples, peeled and sliced
1/3 c granulated sugar
3 T. flour
A T. of lemon juice - if you have it.  (I didn't.  It turned out fine.)

Toss well and let stand for five minutes.  (Or stick it in the fridge for close to an hour while you ride out to meet your husband on his commute.  It will turn out fine.)

A handful of cranberries would have gone nicely with the apples, too.  But since I had to empty the freezer after the hurricane, sadly, there were none on hand.  That's OK, it will turn out fine. 

For the topping:

1 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, diced
Combine in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on low until the butter is the size of peas.

Butter a casserole dish (I used an oval, about 8X10.  I am pretty sure whatever size you use would turn out fine.)

Put apple mixture in the bottom, top evenly with crumbles.

Bake uncovered at 350 for an hour.

Yup, turned out fine.  
So thank me later.  

And let me know if you gain 5 pounds overnight. 

You're welcome. 

After all, that's what friends are for.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Feathers and photos. (Found post from February)

I want to write this down before I forget.  Because I don't have a picture, so no reminder.

Dead peacock by the side of the road.  Lady cutting off it's tail feathers.  In front of the most awesome house on all of Tropical Trail.   And there are quite a few awesome houses on Tropical Trail.  And no.  No photo.  Even though I thought at first,  "Oh my god, she's killed a peacock to take it's feathers!"

Today has been a long day.  I have been practicing my "nice". 

Who knows when you might need to apply a little Nice?  Especially if you haven't been using it much. 

I went to 3 different stores.  I tried on run shoes. 

Shoes are a particular ordeal.  Just try finding women's Nikes in size 11 neutral, not too cushy, not too heavy, not too light, with tread that will work on trails.  The poor clerks, going back and forth.  But I practiced my nice.  And in spite of coming up empty, counted it a victory, in the Nice department, at least.  Every one of them said some version of,  "It's been a real pleasure!" even as I departed without purchase.  As a rule, clerks don't say that to middle aged women.  No one does.

Mostly people don't speak at all.  I normally spend my day entirely invisible.  

So mostly I don't bother practicing my Nice. 

People don't take time to recognize Nice anymore anyway, let alone show appreciation for it.  Mostly they just want you to get out of their way.  

A week ago, I set out to ride in the cold, talking to myself so the inner weasel wouldn't have her way.  Thinking thoughts like, you only have to stick it out for an hour, but yes, you have to go out.  I was mentally not in a place of practicing Nice.  I was pretty much on the on the edge of not so nice.  In other words, just get out of my way, OK?

I made it maybe two miles and some old guy fell into the ditch across the road.  Just pitched off the sidewalk and rolled out of sight.  Damn.  Better stop.  How annoying.
I crossed the road right in front of two cars, dumping my bike in the grass.   A woman with a little girl stopped her van and jumped out.  Even as the poor old guy struggled to get himself up, the woman and I both said - "Don't get up!  We'll call the paramedics."  I guess because the guy was old.  If he'd been younger and able to jump up faster maybe nothing would have been said, and we would have simply helped him up. 

He was laying face down, half in the flowing water.  Fairly cold out so must have been uncomfortable.  I waded in and put my hand on his shoulder, mostly to keep him from rolling further down the bank into the ditch, and also because we had been taught Don't Move.  

In true grumpy old man style, he yelled, "Fine!  You don't have to help me up, but at least stop holding me down!"

I was mortified!  WAS I holding him down???  Was I?  Maybe a little.  Sort of.  Mostly I thought I was helping keep him from deeper water.  And keeping him from struggling and maybe hurting himself.  And..  Oh my god, I was sort of holding him down. 

Because we were right across the street from the fire station, the paramedics were there in 2 minutes and basically they just stood there watching, while he struggled and struggled and finally got himself upright.  

I wasn't too happy to see them handle it that way.   I could have just stood there.  But no, I didn't just stand there.  I "helped".   

Was I a holder-downer???  Just because the guy was old?  It is absolutely true that he was so shaky, it really seemed as if he might topple over and splash down into even deeper water.  But then, encouraging someone to lay face down in a ditch on a cold day seems, well... seems pretty mean. 

You can not assume someone is helpless just because he has gray hair, a hearing aide, and there is blood running down his face.  How old is too old?  80?  90? 102?   After all, he was out walking, not home on the couch.   Just as I plan to be someday.

So anyway, I've been trying to be a little nicer this week.  Non judgmental.   Hold nobody down.  Try to just give everyone an automatic break.  Ask questions first, shoot (photos) later.

Tropical Trail in winter.  Just spectacular.  Well, it is spectacular all times of year, but in winter there is a clarity of light that you just don't get in the summer humidity.

So, after talking to the lady snipping tail feathers off a peacock with her garden loppers, and deciding not to photograph her grisly enterprise, I was determined to find somewhere along the way for a photo.  Anywhere would do, just so I wouldn't forget this spectacular day. 
 Merritt Island, across from Mathers Bridge.

OK, so guy in a ditch.  Leads to deciding to be nicer.  Don't make assumptions because of age, gender, or strangeness of action.  Leads to happier store clerks, more pleasant line time, and meeting the lady who lives in the most beautiful house anywhere around, who also happened to be lopping the tail off a dead peacock. 

(Honest to god, they must have modeled the HGTV Merrit Island Dream home after her house.  Same style.  Only hers is better, bigger, more beautiful, and duh - has peacocks.)

I know I have pictures somewhere of one of the peacocks from a few years ago.
See, even the gate is beautiful.
Not to mention the peacock.
Here it is. Taken in July, 2010.  On the gate of that particular house.  As a matter of fact I think this was shortly after a friend of Popeye's swerved to miss a pea hen and broke the fork of his bike in half. 

Here's the thing.   It's amazing there are peacocks left on Tropical Trail.  They strut wherever they please.  They just don't get it, no matter how much you yell or lay on the horn.  Don't count on them moving.  They won't.  If you are on a bike, you better go around.  If you don't have a conscience and go ahead and slam into one with your car, you better have insurance. 

Someone somewhere probably has a fair sized dent after yesterday.

I guess I never gave it a thought before.  Only stopped to admire how beautiful the huge males are dragging around their amazing five foot tail feathers.  Never gave a thought to how bulky/heavy they might be.  Not until somehow I found myself at the side of the road offering to help a tail-lopping lady heft a dead bird onto a bed sheet for burial.

Before I go, curiosity gets the better of me.  "I get that you don't want a thirty pound bird rotting in your yard, or the local flock of buzzards out there pulling it apart.  But why cut off the tail?  Do you keep the feathers?" 

(Seems a grisly idea to me, but then they are so beautiful it also seems a waste to just bury them.)

"Well," says Lopper Lady, "this isn't the first peacock I've had to bury.  I just can't dig a hole big enough to include their tails." 

"Take some if you want," she says, pointing to the pile of feathers. 

I look down.  It's quite a pile.  I picture riding home with a couple of five foot peacock feathers sticking out of my shirt.  There's no doubt they'd be beautiful somewhere in my island-blue house, but also sad.

I decline the feathers.  Partly out of inconvenience and partly out of respect for the dead.  And also out of respect for the dead, I resist taking a picture of the whole scene.   Although, I admit it was the most interesting thing I'd seen all day.  

Before getting back on the road, I complimented her on her beautiful house.  

"Thank you, I'll tell my husband.  It's his design.  And thank you for stopping.  Not one other person even slowed down." 

Back on the road again.  So there you go.  I can be nice.  And helpful. Without a feather or photo to show for it.  And if I see you lying in a ditch, I might be curious enough to ask what the heck you're doing there, but I won't hold you down, I promise.

Tour de Felasco 2018 Enough at 50.

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