Nov 19, 2007

Among The Thugs...in real time






During an amazing trip to London I decided to buy tickets to an English Premier League match.I traveled with my friend John into this intense culture.It was the mid 90's and stories of Hooliganism were well reported,Questions were asked over many pints as we mapped out directions and etiquette from some true "football" fans the night before.

East London was our destination,the match was West Ham-vs-Chelsea,A cross town "derby" or Rivalry in American terms...in English terms....."Foo-ball Dahrbee" said with a nasty sneer.We were admittedly wide eyed and a little nervous as we headed out from our hostel fully primed up with insane tales from one of my favorite books"Among the Thugs"and first hand warnings from liquored up locals.

After shaking off the cobwebs of the night before with a bizzarro British breakfast and beer, we followed our public transit map east,switching trains twice on this quiet London morning,everything seemed tranquil and proper,for now..........

If you've ever traveled on a subway in any major city,you know,occasionally two trains run side by side,it can happen unexpectedly,a little unnerving if your not used to it,well....Imagine,one rocketing up inches from you,completely packed to the gills,arms and shaven heads bursting out out of every single open window as if trying to escape from an insane asylum,A mobile coo coo's nest adorned in Blue,Chelsea Blue... The inhabitants are all Scream singing the most amazing insult ridden cruel songs I have Ever heard,while proudly showing off their broken and missing teeth...The hair on the back of my neck stood strait fucking out as both of us looked at each other with the same stupid grin,"aw shit we're in it now".Within 5 seconds we went from a peaceful English site seeing tour to ....The Belly of the Beast.

Every stop now.. more and more of these hard looking characters with incredible beer drinking chops boarded our train(or should I say,we were on their train)all were toting paper sacks filled with cans of golden goodness,They would belch endlessly,sing and scream abbreviated statements chock filled with choice morsel's such as"Fuck,Tossa,Cunt & Wanka",The Train car smelled like a dirty pub at 2am blended with oo de mechanic and essence of locker room.It was obvious from the jump,they were committed to a cause and this was the Most important thing in their lives,I mean any place where gangs are named "Firms" there is a seriousness deeply inbred......

We were silent,eyes forward like two fresh fish in a maximum security prison on their first day.....

Finally the mother train arrived at the Match exit,birthing all of her subhuman inhabitants out its doors,thankfully we escape the packed train,following the Damned towards the stadium.As we marched up to street level in mass,John and I took notice that every single shop on the street had its metal gates drawn shut covering all windows and doors,Once again we look at each other,both taking notes internally for later conversations when we're hopefully reunited with our friends back at the hostel.

The closer we get to the stadium,Mounted Riot police on giant draft horses appear every fifty feet,The crowd surges ahead oblivious,completely filling the street like a screaming,singing and belching river of maniacs.I remember thinking"where are all these fucking people gonna fit",Eventually we make it to the stadium gates and find our seats in the balcony all the while being serenaded by the "supporters" of both teams taunting each other as loudly as possible.We sit..... surrounded by scarred faces and seasoned scowls..

The match is amazing and intense,we're were right on top of the action since the venue only held only about 16 thousand people,very intimate.At the mid point we ventured out to find refreshments,since there were no beer vendors in sight.... In each corner of the stadium there was a little pub with a yellow line painted on the floor and sign stating"no glass past this point"We worked ourselves in and ordered a couple,chugged em down and made it back to our seats just in time for the second half whistle....

Chelsea ended up winning the match,much to the delight of the visiting fans who were separated by a fence,like animals at a zoo behind one of the goalies,Missiles launched back and forth,rival Firms taunted and spit thru the fences and the Chelsea fans were forced to wait until virtually everyone was outside the stadium before they could leave..........

The walk to the train and the long ride back to our hostel were just as Intense ....and it all ended as it started,At our exit,peaceful,quiet ..................and ready for more

Sep 9, 2007

Aerodynamic Children Of The Corn




World Championship 60k 4 Man Team Time Trial Race date: 2007-09-09
Utica,Il

Four Racers,who barely know each other,decide at a XXX team meeting to ride together in the annual four man team time trial in Utica,Il

They practice a couple of times,getting used to working together,they enjoy an espresso and conversation up at a Highland Park coffee shop waiting for fellow triple X'rs on consecutive saturdays and finally there are adjustments made to their machines making them more aerodynamic....

Trial day...
Alarm goes off..after restless sleep of visualizing every scenario of the ttt.
I make a pot of coffee,eat breakfast and recheck my gear and bike for the hundredth time
and head out the door to wait for my ride...
It's 6:15am....Brian is exactly on time,I load my bike on the roof of his car...

We make our way to corn....Utica,Il
I call Jacques to see if he and Chris are on their way.....Affirmative
We pass cars full of guys with expensive bikes on their roofs...
I wave...they wave

We pull up to ....what looks like a fancy bike show in a rural parking lot...
Brian and I look around slack jawed and shaking our heads in awe at
the herd of $7000.00 bikes...
I sheepishly pull my crit bike with no aero adaptations off of Brians car..

A bevvy of other XXX teams are there
The vibe is great...
I'm nervous

We check in,get our number....61...I pin it
get dressed and we warm up...


Its Time..
We line up..
10 seconds,5,4,3,2,1
we're off...with the best intentions,high on competitive juices
and fighting our way thru the prairie winds

As a team and as individuals this is our
first team trial....
We make a few mistakes,I make the lions share of them...
Feeling strong,I'm much too eager early,I'm sure I cost us a rider
and nearly myself as I found out the last 10 miles at max heart rate,staring
at Jacques and Brian's rear wheels,yelling gap 3 or 4 times,praying for the mercy of the finish line...
Somehow thru the insane pain in my body,I'm able to internally laugh at the insults
Jacques is screaming at me,pushing me to give every single ounce of effort
I have left....which I do...
nothing is left on the course,and I mean...nothing...not a drop

Getting to know these 3 guys I normally would just greet with a smile
at races or XXX team rides was amazing...I discovered these
are people of integrity,humor and warmth...these are my my friends
Within that hour and a half...we became a unit,like a seal team operation.
Four people suffering,enduring and succeeding for the same cause...

Aug 18, 2007

My Favorite German

"I get payed to hurt people,What could be better than that"...Jens Voigt

Feb 18, 2007

THE DENVER YOU DON'T KNOW




When America thinks Denver... They think about the lovely Rocky Mountains,Omelets,and maybe the dreaded Boot,But these preconceived notions about most Denver-ites being nature loving,active outdoorsy Treehugger types who swill Microbrew while driving fancy trustafarian financed 4WD's must be addressed.I myself thought this was the case from a half a dozen trips here before I moved to the Cap-Hill area of Denver.
My first Awakening to the"Darker" side of Denver happened when a good friend(a Colorado Native)invited me to an "Art Opening"at a really kick ass little clothing store on S.Broadway.I was happy to see folks with Art Damage(nice ink) and rowdy sences of humor,unlike my early introduction to Denvers Ultra PC "politically active"set(yawn).Free beer and snacks were abundant and quality mixed media pieces graced the walls for extremely reasonable prices.I met good people,had solid coversations and laughed more than I had since leaving Chicago..If this would have been the completion of my evening..I would have been a happy camper....
but no..
I was invited to a bar just down the street...to play some pool and have a nightcap.As we are getting ID'd I begin to take notice of the clientel in this establishment...a blend of Sturgis rally meets saggy pant wearin Skate/SnowRats sprinkled with a few skinbirds and Rockabilly dudes.Nothing new right.....wrong...,As I'm racking up the first game of pool I notice the band setting up on stage hanging their banner entitled"Nicaraguan Death Squad"...I'm thinking...hmmm interesting,I hear the drummer warming up with shit hot double bass riffs and the energy starts to pick up in the bar...its palpable...the guitar player is setting up his full stack of amplification,He plugs in and rips a couple low chunks and a wee-dah-lee or two and this giant bearded subhuman walks by me,shaking the floor from his Sasquatch like weight mumbling something like"Oh ..It's On".....I'm thinking"what the fuck is going on here?!?!,I'm supposed to be in laid back Denver".....wrong....."Nicaraguan Death Squad" starts playing their first song,Strait Up Death Metal and the place goes up for grabs they have two "singers"the first does the patented low death growl and the other would scream like a banshee.

If you know me,you know I prefer my heavy on the Punk side but this was a spectacle to behold as they ripped out song after song while a giant 20 man wrestling match broke out all the way on the the sidewalk...
Fucking fantastic I say...what a suprise,a true-ly great night
weeks pass......
I had to see and feel more....I hear that Slayer is coming thru town and I lightly mention it in passing to my friend who invited me out for that eye opening night.....and to my suprise He scores free tickets and in the VIP section to boot,above the blood,puke and carnage not but 40 feet from the stage and what do you know...a sold out sweat box filled with a swirling pit of 5000 metalmaniacs.....Slayer was as tight as any jazz band I've ever seen....seriously




Its just nice to know that inbetween my mountain snowboard trips,epic bike rides,coffee house reads and organic Boulder visits I can get a little dirty if I want too............now.....I need a nap