Tuesday, October 4, 2016

S2S Does Saratoga Springs

Kim and I, took an impromptu trip recently to the beautiful town of Saratoga Springs, NY.  We had gone up the summer before to check out the riding and some of the town's more popular sites.  Before we left, we promised our 518 Chapter Representative, Just Whitt, that we would return the following year after the horse racing season to get a better glimpse of the area minus all the tourists.  Despite the weekend being far too short, we maximized the shit out of our visit.

Friday night we roll into our motel which is located a mile from Just's house.  Even though the sign clearly read Robin Hood Motel, Kim makes the executive decision to rename it the Throbbing Wood Hotel.  Which, in hindsight, was very appropriate.  Our room housed the largest porn mirror next to the bed that I had ever seen.

First thing we do Saturday morning is to find the local diner for a hot, greasy breakfast.  Any town worth it's salt has one of these.  While I'm enjoying my meat packed omelet, Kim gets up from the bar and approaches the one and only, Santa Claus, who came in to enjoy a meal of his own.  He was very gracious.  And, even though he turned down Kim's request for a pony, he did give him a business card.  Come to find out, Santa is sponsored.

With enough food in our bellies to winter an adult male bear, we head back to the Throbbing Wood to begin our day on bikes.

First and foremost, we hit the truck show going on a mile from our motel.  While I was digging the old trucks, I couldn't help but notice that our server from the diner was the same dude in this poster.  I can say with all honesty that hipsters are alive and well in Saratoga.

After checking out some wicked trucks we moseyed down to the rail trail and hunkered down on Turtle Rock to adjust our goofy boots.  We had a long day of debauchery planned and it was time to get prepped!

However, the drinking and the shenanigans did not commence immediately.  It was a sunny; warm, beautiful day and we were going to milk it for everything it was worth.  Next up, Lakeside Farms!  Even though I'm not a huge donut fan, I ate the shit out of that hot, delicious treat.  Not much interest in lingering when there was no alcohol on the premises so we bounced out.  Onto bigger and better!

I can't speak for anyone else but, my favorite part about riding is the crazy things you see along the way.  For instance, this guy.  Someone welded a bunch of scrap metal together to come up with this little scenario.  I can't fathom why someone would do that but I'm thankful they did!  

Next up, Stella's!
Cute, quaint and over priced is what I would call it.  On a scale of 1-to-5 , I'd give it a 3.  Unfortunately,  these pricey beverages only left us thirsty.  The noon hour had already passed and we still had many miles to travel.

Back on the wheel, it wasn't long until we rolled upon this sight.  It gave me a powerful thirst!

High Rock Distillary hit the spot!  After our liquid lunch, we noticed the temperatures were dropping.  At this point we needed to decide to push on or head back to the Throbbing Wood Motel.  We were losing daylight and no one was equipped to ride in the dark.  


So, we did what any sane person would do and headed out to The Saratoga Winery 
& Tasting Room.  We did not taste, though.  Like the true gluttons we are, we procured a bottle of wine and proceeded to polish it off.

By the way, this place was awesome!

We'd fooled around enough.  It was getting dark and cold, and I was powerful hungry.  We hustled back to town to prepare for dinner.  Just was taking us to one of his favorite watering holes, Nanola's.  I don't even remember what I had but the beer was so good.  When I had finished that tap, I tried another and lo and behold, that one was good as well!

We decided to hang out a little longer when this band, Funk Evolution, started to play.  I will admit that I haven't had this much fun in a very long time!  This band is fucking awesome!  I laughed; I drank, I danced with a chubby old cowboy and had the time of my life.  Granted, I paid for it the next day.    

I really have to thank Just Whitt for the guided tour.  Saratoga Springs is a gorgeous area to ride.  On the 1-to-5 scale I would have to give it an 11!  Next year, I'd like to go back with a posse of friends!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Carpe Diem

Believe it or not, I am capable of being introspective.  At the age of 20, during one of those times, I realized that I was half-the-way to 40.  I went on with the math and discovered 40 was half-way to dead.  Perhaps, it's my Irish heritage that's to blame for making me a wee bit morbid but I've always had a good grasp on time and it's value.  If you know me at all, you know my biggest pet peeve is other people wasting my time.

At the age of 40 or half-way to dead, if you will, I thought to myself, if I were to die today what would my regrets be?   My answer was, I would regret all the things I would have missed because I was afraid.  Afraid of failure; afraid of rejection, afraid of the consequences, etc.  And, from that day forward, I looked fear in the face and told it to fuck off.  Right; wrong or indifferent, I was going to seize the day.

To be truly present in a moment, is the greatest gift you can give yourself in my opinion.  To, stop and savor an experience is a difficult thing to do, however.  Saturday, a posse of us like minded individuals seized the shit out of the day. We had one hell of an adventure on bikes around Keuka Lake.  For your entertainment, I have assembled a picture montage.  Sit back and enjoy the show.

At 11 a.m. a gaggle of idiots formed to experience the delightful Keuka Lake Wine Trail.  Nipping on spirits is perfectly acceptable after 11 a.m.

After a long, arduous climb uphill, our first winery beckoned like a beacon.  And, it did not disappoint.

There may have been a wee more climbing but I don't really remember.  I was busy enjoying the view and the heavy scent of grapes.

In a word?  Fucking awesome!

Yates Cellar was a God send!  The hill leading up to it?  Not so much.  Still worth the stop.

Lunch view at Top Of The Hill.  You can see the bluff from our table.  After a delightful lunch we needed to lay down some miles.  We were only 22 miles into the ride.

Found this along the way at Ole Camp Good Times.

47 miles later, we parked our asses in Maloney's Pub for a last beverage together.  I will not lie, I felt at home here.  We reminisced.  We laughed.  Kim and I, watched our friends leave.  And, then we went skinny dipping in the lake.  I'll never forget this ride.  Carpe Diem, after all!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

2015- The Year of Fucky

Fucky Is:

The coldest winter on record.
A spring that never sprung.
A bride walking down the aisle on her wedding day spewing f-bombs like it was her job.
The State Fair.
Three weeks of summer.
The inability to follow through.
Unfucky Is:

Best friends on your birthday.
Last Rush concert series with great friends.
Unadilla with cool friends.
Living a childhood dream with a long time friend.
A long beautiful fall season.
The never ending support of a spouse.
And, true friends on bikes.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Out of the Blue

One day, out of the blue, it occurred to me that I had been involved in one form of bicycling or
another for almost 20 years.  20 years!  That's almost half of my life time.  It was such a strange realization for someone who always felt like a poser and an outsider.  And, that's when I realized being involved doesn't necessarily mean being the best.  It simply means participating.

I had another epiphany, and realized that if I were to put together a resume it would be pretty impressive.  I have four State titles in BMX; I owned a BMX based business, owned a state
level race team, and revolutionized the way pad sets were made.  The list goes on:  I've
taken millions and millions of pictures; hours and hours of video, created a website, held bicycling events, yada yada yada.  I guess you could say I discovered my own credibility.  So, imagine my dismay, when I see my club representatives struggling with the same issues I just put to rest.

The first question that is always asked of them is, "Do you ride?"  And, this is where they falter.  I never interrupt when they answer, though.  My girls, meaning; Sara Diamond and Jolene Layton, are very competent and can handle themselves in any situation.  I'm the only one who knows how uncomfortable that question makes them.  I just want to butt in and reply for them, "Of course I do!  Anyone can ride a bike!  But, more importantly I'm an advocate of bicycling."  Fact is, when the topic of bikes come up people automatically think of this...

When in reality, we're more like this...

This seems to be, especially hard for women to understand.  I've repeatedly been told, "I would love to join your club but I don't ride a bike."  What they mean is, "I can't ride like that."  And, back to the first picture above.  Seriously, who the fuck wants to do that?

What if I said that advocating is one of the most important ways of showing support without having to throw a leg over a bike?  It's true.  The people who know us via the club now pay more attention to cyclists on the road.  They also pass that information on to their friends, children and family members.  People who never had an interest are now paying attention.  This is a big deal because bicycle/road safety is a huge issue.

However, it does little to increase the number of women riders, which is my next big focus.  In June, Saints-2-Sinners will be hosting a Ladies Only ride on the Dryden Rail Trail.  We will leisurely peddle the trail with plenty of stops and opportunities for pictures.  We will be met at the Dryden Lake Park with live music; and cocktails, served up cold by the best looking men in the club.  This will be our first official attempt to making bikes fun for females.

I have no intentions of stopping there.  I'm also focusing on apparel designed specifically for women.  Gone are the days where I cater to men.  I'm sure they'll survive without another funny tee shirt.  Also, gone are the days where my girls sit on the sidelines.  Last summer, kicked off the beginning of our vehicle supported rides.  In addition, they are assuming the positions of photographer/videographer.   I'm very excited to get started!

Stay tuned to the Saints-2-Sinners website or Facebook page for more information regarding the Dryden Lake ride. And, happy spring, everybody!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Brothers on Bikes-What it is to be a Saint-2-Sinner

"What is Saints-2-Sinners?", has got to be the most asked question I get.  And, depending upon my mood, the answer may vary.  If I'm in a good mood, I have a standard reply, it goes a little something like this, "Well, it's a bicycle club that doesn't take itself too serious."  If I'm lucky, the stranger will give me the sideways look and drop it.  If not, I then launch into a rendition of, "We're just a bunch of goofballs who ride bikes...all kinds of bikes, and like to party."  Understand, this is my generic; pat  response.  99% of the people asking don't give a shit and, they aren't going to remember in 15 minutes anyway.  They simply ask to hear themselves talk.  And the other 1%?  Those are the ones who won't let me get away with it.

Fact is, I didn't know how to properly describe something when I didn't know what it even was myself.  It started as a hoot and has snowballed over the years.  How do you tell people, "Well, a bunch of us like to go to the trails; get drunk, ride bikes, cook out, instigate, antagonize, burn shit up, etc. Etc.?"  At least that's how it started 13 years ago.  In that time we've all gotten older and cut out some of the stuff above but, not all of it.  Some of the crew disappeared; then came back.  Some of them didn't.  Some of them included mountain biking and road cycling to their repertoire; some of them still only ride BMX.  However, through it all, we never took it seriously we just kept riding bicycles.

That changed for me the morning I found out about Jon Hines death and saw the picture, our boy Chris Hayward, posted.  I can't even look at it.  It breaks my heart.  It also made me realize something.

For whatever crazy reason, people believe in us and take us seriously.  To say the realization was humbling doesn't quite cover it.  We've literally grown something out of nothing and it's given me a whole new appreciation for the club.  Well, mostly the people in the club.  When people are tattooing your logo onto their bodies and risking the chance of a fight by wearing your colors, it's serious.  It's real. 

With that said, I know, when all is said and done, the real answer to the question, "What is Saints-2-Sinners?, is really... "It's a brotherhood."

Monday, January 12, 2015

May We Meet Again, Jon Hines

It's been a few days since the news of the death of one of our club members was made public.  It still  hasn't sunk in for most of us.  Everyone from this area knew Jon Hines. 
Maybe, they knew him as Willow or maybe, they knew him as Shorty, but everyone knew him. He was just that kind of guy.

Saturday evening, around ten o'clock, Shorty was riding his bike in Port Orange, FL. 
When he tried to cross the road he was struck by a vehicle and died at the scene.

This story is tragic for so many reasons.  This wasn't a man who grew up with a silver spoon
in his mouth.  He wasn't blessed with Hollywood good looks or, the IQ of Einstein.  This was
a man who struggled hard since the day he was born with physical limitations and his own bad choices.  But, Jon wasn't bitter and he didn't make excuses.  Instead, he got his shit together and applied to school.  Hence, his presence in Florida.  His dream was to become a motorcycle mechanic.  Jon had only been there for a week or so when he struck.

Two days before his death, him and another club member, Chris Hayward, posted this picture
on our group page.  They talked about starting a Florida Chapter of Saints-2-Sinners.

This is actually a first for me.  Being involved in bikes, I know several people who have been
struck by a vehicle.  Jon is the first one who will not be given the chance to recover from his
injuries.  I was so unprepared for the onslaught of feelings that would come over this.

There are people in our lives that, even though they aren't the center of attention, are always
there in your peripheral vision.  You become so used to them being there that you assume they always will.  Jon was one of those people for me.  I've known him since he was a child.  I've seen him struggle and I've  seen him overcome.  And, I've seen such an outpouring of love for this character that it leaves me heartbroken.  Not for myself, but for all the people who are suffering without him now.  While it's tragic for him to be taken when he was finally where he sought to be; and, it's tragic that he left two children, family and friends behind, the real tragedy, in my opinion, is that he didn't know how many lives he touched.  He didn't realize the impact he made on so many of us.
I wish I could tell him. 

I'm sitting here with Kim and Curtis, right now.  I'm having a drink as I write this.  Here is my
toast, (raise your drink, please) "To the hard life of a good man.  May we meet again, my brother."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 Year In Review

When I started thinking about 2013 there were a few things that stood out.  Cool things.  Then I started going through my picture and video files.  Holy shit!  Did we make the most out of our year!

First ride of the season was January 13, 2014.  This was my first ever winter ride.

Unlike 2013, the majority of my miles were not solo.  I had the distinct pleasure of riding with
our brothers in the 401 and 315.  Our very own 607 Chapter member, Jeremy Layton,
took his first ride with us.  45 miles his first time out!  Another first?  Our vehicle supported wine ride!

Spent some time on the 910 turf in early spring.  It was exactly what we needed after a long shitty winter.  Bought a USABMX license and hit a couple races.  This gave us the opportunity to hang with the 518 Chapter Rep; Just Whitt.  Never a dull moment with that one!

Mully; Kim and I, did a 43 mile ride around Cooperstown that turned into a 54 mile death march.

The following weekend, Kim and I decided a trip to Cazenovia was in order.  I hated the route/him that day.  All the booze in world couldn't fix that shitty ride.  

My favorite was definitely the Cayuga Lake ride.  That was the best for so many reasons.  I saw shitstory in the making; samsquanch and an amphibious Volvo.  Solid fucking gold day, right there!

The stop at Apple Station Winery was a bonus.  And, how can I forget the many many rides we took locally through the summer?  I almost puked after the third Tastee Freeze in our, Three Towns; Three  Tastee Freezes Ride.  But, it was so worth it!  Just ask me who has the best ice cream!

It was actually this one; on Route 96 in Owego.  Knowledge is power, my friends.

How can I forget about the bar fight we nearly got into because the wrong guy decided to pick on our spandex?  Fucker was feeding me nachos and hot sauce by the time we left.  After I told him I had my ass kicking shoes on, he chilled out.  So many great adventures just because we ride a bike.

Did I mention club events?  Saint-2-Sinners hosted the 100th annual Chili Cook Off.  It was awesome!
We set up at Cruisin' Palooza in Whitney Point, NY for the second year in a row.  If you like cars; motorcycles and loud music, you would appreciate this event. 
Then there was our annual Memorial Day party; Halloween party and club member only, Christmas party.  Don't let me forget about the Cornhole tournament!  That's one we intend to do again!

2014 was incredible!  I can't wait to see what we discover in 2015.  Rides are already in the
planning stages.  Who knows what adventures await!  But, most of all, I look forward to the time spent with incredible friends and family who support our silly bicycle addiction.  It would be nowhere near as fun without them!