From mice to men and back again.

For those not in the know, the above image is Surly Bicycle Company’s own Eric Sovern. He plays the banjo. He also has lead a life much happier than the ones detailed in Steinbeck’s book of a similar name as proven by his staring role in the recently displayed video from North Central Cycling;

Tobie had sent me notification of this project some months ago (fewer than three, more than one), and with that, the possibility to have a cameo in the production. Since my neck is still 15% red, I was eager to be included, but alas, the filming occurred at a location that was exactly ten thousand miles from the nearest airport and I missed my opportunity.

I have re-enrolled in the Oakland School of Thespianeseisming and plan to hone my acting chops before ‘Gravel Metric 4- When Gravel Bites Back‘ goes into production.

For an extra five dollars I will do a topless scene.

Last week Gypsy The Punk sent in a huge bummer regarding the production and sale of paper targets resembling Trayvon Martin. Assuming he felt the need to redeem himself, he countered that with a correspondence of a considerably more uplifting nature;


My last email was a bit depressing, so I figured I’d share the following story with you to make up for it. I was working in my front yard today when I caught site of a 15-16 year old kid on a BMX bike riding down the sidewalk. He stopped at the crosswalk, I said, “Hi,” and he nodded to me. The kid had the most amazing afro I’ve ever seen. Seriously epic. I immediately dubbed him, “He of the Immaculate Afro,” (or HOTIA for short). Behind HOTIA was another kid riding on the back of a shopping cart that was loaded down with a full drum kit. Bass, snare, cymbals… The whole thing was bumping and clanging with each crack in the sidewalk. I say that the second kid, (let’s call him HOTEB for “He of the Enormous Balls,”) was riding the shopping cart because, that’s what he was doing.

The front of the cart was connected to HOTIA’s seat post by a 10 foot string of braided bungee cords. HOTEB had his feet up on the base of the cart, his hands on the bar, and his ass hung *way* out the back. Why was his ass way out the back you ask? Well, let me tell you. HOTIA started pedaling, and for 6-7 feet, nothing happened to the cart. It stayed still as the bungee cords stretched and stretched and stretched, until…

It rocketed forward. HOTIA had to pedal like hell just to keep the cart from giving him a drum kit enema. They proceeded down the block like a deranged Frank Zappa video. The drums were clanging, HOTIA had his head down pumping the pedals, and HOTEB was doing everything he could to keep all four wheels of the cart on the ground.


Right about this time, an SUV drove by in the opposite direction, slowed down, honked for a solid 15 seconds, and a guy screamed out of the window, “You kids need to stay out of the road! Don’t you have parents?” Keep in mind, HOTIA and HOTEB were on the sidewalk… Not in the street… Not obstructing traffic…

HOTIA immediately sat up on his bike and gave the SUV both of his middle fingers. HOTEB leaped off of the back of the cart (sending it screaming forward into the back of HOTIA’s bike, whose hands, if you’ll remember, were doing something other than holding on to the handlebars), dropped his pants and gave the guy a proper mooning.


Yes, there are banks, politicians, racist vigilantes and ass-hole SUV drivers everywhere, but, there is also an entire generation of punk ass kids that are not afraid of them. There are young people out there riding bikes and playing instruments and reading books and filing up notebooks full of sketches and listening to loud music.

There is hope for the future… I for one will sleep much better knowing that the HOTIAs and HOTEBs of the world are still making noise.

Punk rock is as punk rock does,


PS- I know you love it when people send in pictures with their emails, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone with me… If you’d like, I’ll be more than happy to send you a photo of my hairy ass in full moon, along with a double middle finger salute.

This story truly provides me with a sense of hope.

And no, there’s need to do all that… You paint a perfectly succinct picture with your words. Besides, I need photos of your ass like I need photos of my own, which is not at all.

Then as I dig a bit deeper into the mailbag, from Dave I got a heads up about something regarding a biscuit;

“I know it’s short notice, but we’re about a biscuit away from having a Real live velodrome here in scum city. It’s not my event and I won’t be there due to a weekend in Minneapolis. Also, thanks for the reading material. It’s not at all awkward to walk out of an office building bathroom with that under my arm. That also doesn’t stop me from doing it.

I’m classy with a capital k
Dave Schalmo”

Velodromes are the new skateparks which were the new arcades that were the new skateparks which are the new velodromes.

In news of fallen friends, I got an email from Steve which pained me to read;

“Hey, now this may well sound quite morose (and it probably is).

But, a good friend of the UK singlespeeding scene passed through to the other side sometime these last few days (by his own hand unfortunately).

he has left a hole in many of our lives, not least of which his immediate family.

Nick3216 was an awkward bugger, a great friend, someone who could be a pleasure and a pain to be around, in essence a human being with all the strengths and weakness’s that that entails.

I’m writing this to you and wondering if this is the right thing to do, if you could post a snap of Nick then I’m certain that he’d be secretly pleased.

I, and all his friends are gutted that it came to this.

To be honest I’m not entirely certain that this is an appropriate response from me, just feels right now.


Photo courtesy of Trina.

Feeling ‘gutted’ doesn’t begin to describe the feelings I experienced when learning of this.

Nick was one of the good guys and though our paths only crossed briefly over the years, his departure from the scene will leave a giant hole.

I can’t profess to understand what circumstances lead to his decision, or how far he’d sunk to make it. I just hope that wherever he is, there are flowing ribbons of single track forever.

It is with that, that I serenade thee with a sentiment it would serve us all well to remember;

Live life like it’s the only one you have.

A person who doesn’t have the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen, yet is still one I like is James Newman, pictured here breaking jail;

As I clumsily withdrew my picture taking machine from my jersey pocket, all I could think of was this;
It was exactly the same thing, but with 50% less heroin.

Do you know what’s nearly as addicting as heroin and twice as bad for you?

Riding bikes…

Luckily, for those residing in and around the Bay Area, Saturday offers a chance to do just that while in the company of Northern California’s premiere bike builders;

There will surely be a number of luminaries attending the event, along with at least one useless blogger. If the idea of riding bicycles and eating food and drinking beer and picking the brains of a bunch of smart folks about metallurgy sounds intriguing, you know what to do.

Though as of yet, it is unconfirmed whether or not there will be any banjo paying mice.

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Leave a Reply

7 Responses to “From mice to men and back again.”

  1. Brent May 25, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    best mailbag ever.

  2. Mike May 25, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    “Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.”

    I like it

  3. pedalman May 25, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    Phil Lynott = most awesome Irish afro ever. Gypsy’s story put a much needed smile on my face. Cheers!

  4. East Bay Ed May 25, 2012 at 6:21 am #

    I needed a story that included a shopping cart full of drum kit and a full moon. Made me go straight for this.

  5. rick May 25, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Thats really sad news…I met Nick in 96′ when I went to England for the 3 Peaks.. He put me up at his house and was a great host, incredibly smart person, and a strong tenacious rider..My thoughts and best wishes go out to his family and close friends.

  6. mark May 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Very well made video, but I was let down when Sov didn’t taco any wheels. Three stars.

  7. Josh RVA May 26, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    So good I had to save it until Saturday morning to savor it fully.