Beer Bicycles Music

David Bromberg

I lived in a motel in Springfield, Ill. I had a little portable record player and listened to David Bromberg’s Wanted Dead or Alive album and drank cheap beer. I had a ’69 Ford truck, for which I paid 600 dollars. During the day I would drive around and install cable TV. I had some metal braces, with curved blades at the bottom, which were strapped to my lower legs. I would use these to climb telephone poles in order to make the connections for the coax cable going to the houses. I was paid according to how many installs I made every day. I did this in Leavenworth, Kansas and Anaconda, Montana too. But that is a different blog post.

There was, and still may be, a bicycle shop in Springfield which had on display a Motobecane Champion Team. A beautiful orange, full Campy bike for the same money my truck cost. I would have bought that bike but I still owed my parents for my truck.

I was often paid cash by the customers. One time I used that cash to buy groceries or beer. Probably beer. When the day of reckoning came- when I was supposed to turn over the proceeds from my work tickets- I didn’t have the money. I told them I had spent it. My boss just said, “Don’t do that shit no more”. And I didn’t. My boss lived in the same motel. We watched the movie Casablanca one night in his room with another fellow. He referred to me as the Montana boy, and he wondered what I did with my money.

I had a Peugeot PA-10 bicycle that I rode down to Champaign-Urbana on my days off. There is not really anything there, so I would just ride back to my motel and listen to David Bromberg and drink cheap beer.

Beer Bicycles

West Texas In My Rear View

West Texas; Chihuahuan Desert, skeleton mountains pushing 9,000 feet above sea level, wind that sculpts solid rock. My co-tourist and I set off from Alpine with a quartering tailwind and make good time up to Davis Mountain State Park, a little over 27 miles away. I imagine western movie gunfights in the rocks on the hillsides, and I wonder if the natives and the soldiers at Ft. Davis actually had similar gunfights.

The highways in West Texas have a great bike lane, called a courtesy lane in Texas. Not something Idaho DOT would understand.
No rumble strips!

It’s spring break time in Texas and tough to get reservations; we made this one a few weeks ago. At the first grocery store in Ft. Davis, buying a six pack would require one of the employees making sandwiches over at the deli counter to notice me and to give a shit. So I leave the beer on the counter and we ride to the next store- bonus; they stock one of my favorite Texas beers!

After a fit-full nights sleep (actually, neither one of us had a fit but there was a lot of activity and noise from other happy campers after what I consider to be bedtime) we got up and packed and rode away. That is, after I spent about one hour attempting to get the tree sap out of one of the sleeves into which I pack my hammock. After getting denatured alcohol poisoning through my skin and not fixing the problem I jammed everything into the pannier. Then I realized my sunglasses were in the bottom of the pannier. I rode without sunglasses.

Before leaving the city limits I realized I had a problem. The last time I experienced this feeling was several years ago after eating some Bob’s Red Mill Granola. My throat felt like a vacuum cleaner hose plugged with hair and lint. Inside the bolus was a little demon punching and kicking to get out. My partner becomes smaller and smaller before disappearing around the bend leading to the pass. I stop and try to figure out what is happening; is it Covid-19? Is it really wood alcohol poisoning? Is it just an allergic reaction? Am I going to die here?

Stacy waits at the top of the hill and gives me some of her antihistamines which seem to help. Then we stop at the picnic area and I lay down for ten minutes. My co-tourist leads the way into the howling headwind the last ten miles- until she drops me and I ride slowly into town. If I were to disclose fully, I would say I told her to ride ahead and that I would just “let the legs drop” the rest of the way. Good times.

When times were good and I was sitting at the picnic table drinking my El Chingon, I took some detail photos of our bicycles. Those follow.

Gilles Berthoud himself brazed this little piece of design wonderfulness.
Ultegra seat post
Shimano Ultegra seat post. Poetry.
no caption needed
image of IRD crankset
The IRD compact double crankset. Both bikes have the same gearing.
image of bicycle saddle
Gilles Berthoud saddle

“Ale Is another Man”- Anonymous

In the Bike Hermit’s experience, ale is at least two other men. The first “other” man comes around for the first two or three rounds- depending on the ale’s alcohol content. He is more loquacious than the original Bike Hermit and his mood is fine. For him the hard edges of living are sort of smoothed and softened. If the session continues (usually ill-advisedly, and due to impaired judgment) this man often stays. Other times, on some unpredictable cue, a second “other man” appears and vitiates the first “other man”. This second “other man” is mean spirited and hurtful. But he is confident that his behavior is justified and he is unwilling to back down. He is not a tough guy though; he doesn’t pick fights with strangers, because that might hurt. No, he bullies his friends and loved ones with his anger and resentment and hurt feelings. He feels as though he has been wronged or insulted or embarrassed in some way and those feelings are strong enough to be accepted as true (by him). He’s actually quite good (better than he realizes apparently) at getting retribution for these perceived wrongs. He is something of a coward, really. He doesn’t care for himself either. His meanness comes from insecurity and self loathing and an urgency to “do unto others before they do unto you”.

This is not a drinking story though; the Bike Hermit does not care for the second “other man” but he knows he will always be there- a ghost in the machine, which is just more plainly visible with alcohol.

Beer Music

Hill Country Hideout

Hill Country Hideout- “Someplace down in Texas” (It’s in Canyon Lake). Wednesday is open mic night and just because it’s Christmas day, it makes no difference. There are 29, or so, taps but because of the holidays, there are only a few. Some real good singers (the host is not included in this description) share the mic, one at a time, and the one guitar. The sign says something about mics and bikes. “Bikes”,however, don’t mean pedal bikes, because, Texas.