aka "Show me Ball Testicle"
LAX, Red Eye, CRC Cafe, Heineken, grease, cappuccino, Hurl's couch, Kelly Mac's, One on One, MGD, bikes, GeneO, cock, (not in that order), pizza, Jaeger, fire, Grumpy's, PBR, Liquor Lyle's, Bloody Marys, Tater Tots, #120, Hurl's kilt, Surly, foot meets SUV, derbies, carnage, 36", Bud, bud, singlespeeds, marriage, hummus, duck, belly lint, Feats of Strength, Squirrel, Emily, blood, paramedics, mushrooms, beer, fire, smokes, leaves, stuffed peppers, bacon donuts, venison, fireworks, Hurl's balls, music in the woods,'wood in the woods, lost in the woods, Hollywood, Simon says "like riding on a cloud", Zeke, Mayor, Swobo, Troy's toe, Elena, jerky, beer, B double-E double-R U-N, firecrackers, bikes, Richter, 'cross, cowbells, trains, planes, automobiles, LAX, bewilderment, confusion.
Hey Hemingway, take me to the photos already...
Long version or, "Stand back, I don't know how big this thing gets":
A visit to Minneapolis has been on my To Do list for a while now. See the city, visit friends, see the bike shops, relax and enjoy the sights and smells of a new place.
Three out of four ain't bad I guess.
During Interbike, a formal invitation was presented to me via courier to the 2007 Homie Fall Fest. In Minneapolis, a bunch of people getting together to ride bikes, how FUN is that?? Didn't really have a sure grasp on what exactly goes on at a Homie, but how bad could it be? I immediately started checking Yelp.com and other online restaurant review sites to pick some of my favorite places to taste the cuisine of the Midwest. "Oooh there's a nice looking Bistro called JP's, I'll add that to my dining list." I booked a flight, taking a red eye flight on Thursday, arriving Friday morning in Chicago, then on to the 612.
I packed up the Niner singlespeed and headed to LAX. That's probably the last sentence I can write where everything seemed normal and went smoothly. I checked in to American Airlines (bikes fly free! Who knew?) where I was informed that I had incorrectly booked the redeye for Friday night, not Thursday. According to the lovely counter agent, I was 24 hours early. It was now 11pm and the flight I wanted to be on left in one hour. She put me on stand-by and hoisted my bike box around the corner, me wondering if I'd ever see it again. Way to go, Slick.
Lonely Planet (click photos to enlarge)
The midnight flight was then bumped to 1:30am. Neat. People napped on the carpet. Babies cried. Problematic Bluetooth headsets frustrated businessmen. 1:30 came and we were wheels-up. I squeezed out a solid 3 hours of sleep before I heard "flight attendants please prepare for arrival to Chicago."
A short layover and I was on my way to the Twin Cities, where I was eventually reunited with my blinglespeed and bag of assorted strange clothing. Then it was a quick hop to the CRC Cafe, a perfect fusion of bicycles, caffeine, soup and cotton garments. I had some "me time" to enjoy a nice cappuccino and cookie before the proprietor and his posse arrived, allowing me full run of the shop in the rear to get the Niner precision-tuned back into cranking order. The weather was cool with a little drizzle, a pleasant change from warm and dry L.A.
Hurl welcomes me with open finger to his home town
Then on to Hurl's house via Zeke's van. Drop off bags, get settled, pick a spot to crash, pull on a beanie and it was off to Gene's One On One bicycle studio, with a quick stopover at Kelly Mac's house to pick up more of the 612 crew.
BIG Homie Eve party at One on One. I realize I now know exactly 3 people out of about 100. I give myself the self-guided tour of the incredible shop, studio and basement, which holds more new bikes, old bikes and 'parts' bikes than I could count. I also took a quick run to Pizza Luce for a quick bite. I wondered if JP's was anywhere near where I was...? Um, no. There will be no Bistros for you, city boy. Close the shop party, mount up and ride to Clubhouse Jaeger for beer and a fire pit. Riders keep showing up, flooding the patio. The locals look concerned. Someone leaps the fire. After Jaeger bores us, we all ride across town to Grumpy's, a nice big, packed bar with many bikes already outside where the pre-Homie frolic raged on til the wee hours...eventually my head hit my makeshift pillow at 3am sharp.
One on One:
Saturday morning was rise, shine, dress and head out for Lyle's, the official meeting spot and start of the Festival. And a perfect day it was. Warm temps, blue skies and stunning colors of fall foliage on display with every turn of a corner. I signed in for the ride and got my paper number plate. Rider #120 was officially In The House. I had time to side up to the rowdy bar action, order some breakfast that included damn tasty tater tots, and warshed it all down with 2-for-1 Bloody Marys.
Sov reviews the bylaws
At least 200 bikers gathered outside Lyle's, all in various form of creative wardrobing. Matching skunk outfits? sure. Skinsuits? check. Kilts? rad.
We rolled out and less than 2 blocks into the ride crossed paths with Angry 4Runner Driver, who decided he wasn't going to stop for the pack that was now surrounding him, including one rider whose Ritchey met the fate of the truck's front tire. The next image I saw was that of a Homie leg kicking in the door of the aforementioned truck. I tried to get a good look at the door but couldn't tell if it was an SPD cleat or Crank Bros. that was gouging the paint. Maybe Crank Bros. The driver wisely did not stop and get out, and sped off but not before his prized wool driving cap was snatched from his head. Homies: 1, Angry 4Runners belongings: 0.
We all rode across town, stopping twice or thrice to derby and make sure that at least one other person's bike wasn't going to ride as good as it did at the start.
Let's get it on -
Eventually we made it to the woods, where we entered via a slightly technical downhill that bottlenecked most of the pack while they carefully studied which line would send them over the bars the quickest.
A few more twists through the trees and the Homies had finally arrived. Bikes were laid to rest in the woods, beverages were freed from their various messenger bags and backpacks, campfires were lit and the celebration was upon us.
The 3-Stage Feats of Strength began after everyone got a little Liquid Courage in their system. First up was a solo try up a river; rocks, water, logs. Guys & Gals alike. The first rider up started with confidence and promptly endo'd and stuffed his face underwater. Game On. Stage 2 brought short 'n steep ups & downs, finishing with yet another river run. Stage 3 was the sketchiest. A stairway descent feeding a bridge over the river with a narrow plank as an exit, followed by a steep up to another small bridge. Like putt-putt golf on wheels. Last up was Emily who aced the stairs but misjudged the bridge exit and ended her run with a nasty face plant into the earth. She sat upright and the blood began to flow from her nose... 911, an ambulance and medics are what occupied the next few minutes of everyone's day. I hope she recovers ok, but that's gotta be one helluva black eye.
Feats of Strength
Hollywood of the Midwest!! (and my doppelganger?)
From there is was back to the woods to get the Fest back on its feet, proper. More campfires, more beer, more *what have yous* being shared amongst friends. My buddy, who I'll call "Nick" for this particular blog shared some mushrooms with me. Now I'm not a big partaker of the the psychedelics, but this day was special and I was feeling adventurous. Right then! Down the hatch! Should make for some interesting photography at least. I didn't realize that I'd soon find myself wandering through the woods under a pitch black sky, having absolutely no idea where I was, both immediately and in the larger, existential "in the universe" picture. I returned to base camp and was offered a bacon donut. Everything suddenly made sense.
The Homies raged on into the wee hours. Bonfires warmed, beer hydrated, conversation between friends comforted.
At what must have been 1am our small band of housemates departed the woods for the twinkling downtown in the distance. A lightrail train helped conserve what was left of our energy. End of the line, a quick spin through the downtown nightlife scene and we were home-bound.
3am: head hits pillow. Homie Fall Fest in the bag, as was I.
The following morning we woke to find the clouds and cooler temps had moved back in. We showered, bundled up, grabbed a bike and pedaled across town to Powderhorn park to spectate the cyclocross races taking place. We cheered on housemate Eric as he sprinted on & off the bike around the course in the Men's B race.
It was time for me to depart. Ride back to CRC, strip the bike down and prep it for air travel, call a cab and I was off to La La Land. On my flight out of MN I was seated in a row 3 seats across; myself, an empty middle seat and "grandma" on the aisle. I smiled thinking of a 2+ hour flight without a passenger between us. It was then that an enormous shadow darkened our row. "Oh God please" I whispered...but my prayer was too late as I slowly looked up to see most definitely the most obese woman on the plane. "I need to get in there" she commanded. Luckily I had some Pedro's lube handy, which I applied liberally to her hips, followed by a hop or two on her lap to wedge her positively into her seat. She asked the flight attendant for a seatbelt extension so she could wrap the safety belt around her massive pooch. My right thigh was now mashed against her left, slowly heating up to an uncomfortable temperature and yet nowhere to go. I escaped to the world of iPod and The Outcast and slipped into denial.
During my layover in Dallas I was introduced to news of my state being on fire. On the late flight into LAX I could see several fires burning up homes and hillsides from my comfortable window seat. Fortunately no immediate family or friends have lived close enough to be evacuated, but the fires have reminded us all that this 8 year drought is having a huge impact on our lives in more ways than one.
Table for one, some TV news and some nice Tex-Mex con margarita
I'm really fortunate to be able to spend such a fun-filled, debaucherously good weekend with great people while thousands had to flee their homes with whatever belongings they could cram in their cars.
Until next Fall...
more photos on Flickr