Sunday, July 26, 2009

Faria's to Blame

Friday night July 24th 2009 the Southern California Speedway team beat the Northern squad 76 to 62 in the annual North vs South Civil War of Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn California.
And long time veteran Speedway icon "Flyin" Mike Faria is the reason why ....despite the fact that he never set foot on the track.
Faria, a former Richmond California and Reno Nevada resident who recently moved back down to the greater Los Angeles area, was a late no show prompting race promoter Dave Joiner to juggle the teams and insert "Bronco" Billy Janniro into the spot on the South team formerly occupied by Faria. Taking the place of Janniro on the Northern team was former junior rider Mark Carrillo.
The fact that Janniro is from Benicia and has never lived in Southern California seemed to make little difference to the Barnum and Bailey minded Speedway brain trust. Another Northern California rider...... Bryan Yarrow was already situated on the Southern team .....for the second straight year. Yarrow is from Vacaville and Citrus Heights!
What it boils down to is whichever team former British League rider Janniro was on was going to win the event. The evidence can be found in Janniro's predictable performance in his six heat rides and the Main Event. He won everyone of them for a combined score of 26 points. The South won by 14 points.
I have to admit it was a pretty fun evening watching old favorites like Janniro, Bart Bast, Tommy Hedden, Charlie Venegas and Jimmy Fishback compete...and I was even a little surprised at the emergence of former Junior riders Greg Hooton, Jason Ramirez, Bryce Starks and my friend Mark Carrillo.
My problem is with the decline of an event that has been one of the best Speedway nights since it's inception in 1991. Where was Faria? And where was Bobby Schwartz, who is still a successful Speedway rider in Southern California? How about Gary Hicks and Eddie Castro?
I know there are plenty of talented riders down South to return the annual North vs South battle to it's original glory....without robbing the North of it's best riders in the name of a predetermined Hollywood script. It deserves better.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Beer Python - Revisited

Some years ago, when the Hop hunter was merely a beer python and just starting to develop his hop legs (there were actually very few hops back then) he wrote a short story for an unnamed college newspaper describing one of his early beer related experiences. Having just recently found a copy of that story it became clear that perhaps a little look at that piece might be kinda fun and perhaps even shed some insight into the development of a full grown Hop Hunter.'s gonna be typical Hop hunter writing style... some things never change.

THE KERN RIVER BEER PYTHON - The Beaver Adventure (June 1984)

Once again I find myself cruising the Mighty Kern River in my quest for adventure and my search for beer. All that protrudes above the water are my eyes and forehead. I can move sly and slow picking off unguarded beer without rippling the water. Or I can boldly sweep in swift and fierce attacking cashes and be gone before a camper can mount any defensive action whatsoever. I am good at my task. I love my work. I am the #1 Kern River Beer Python.

This particular day was sunny, hot and dry; a perfect day for beer pilfering.As I headed down the trail from our camp to the Kern I told myself that this day would be different. Under my arm I carrier my black inner tube which I had named "Courage" years earlier. I often used courage to perform "soft reconnaissance" which consists of floating downriver a mile or two making mental notes on amounts, types and defense of beer. Up ahead the rapids loomed, once through I would start gathering information on the new crop of unsuspecting beer which year after year without fail was waiting for me cooling in the river. I did not want to disappoint them.
The rapids proved to be more than just an access to fortune. By the time I had finished battering my body on the rocks I was in no shape for even a look around. Courage was floating up ahead of me free from riders and glistening in the hot sun. The river was calm at this point so I swam over to my inner tube, corralled it, kicked up on top, then sat back to lick my wounds,
After studying the gash on my leg I noticed something floating in the little inlet that paralleled the shore and the rapids. It looked to me like a beaver. I paddled over near it and climbed onto a rock to get a better look. Sure enough it was a huge dead beaver. It was so puffed and flabulent it appeared to be without feet. At this time I had no idea how important this apparently useless beaver would turn out to be. I watched the beaver for a few moments before deciding it would be safe until I returned. The Kern River Beer Python was onto something big.
At camp I found both my good buddies doing mostly what I had expected them to be doing, nothing. I told them all about the beaver I found, and the plans I had for it. They remained mildly interested until I came to my intended plan, at which time they told me I was crazy as a loon. Beaver madness was shifting into first gear.
Although they thought I was crazed, they did indeed have every intention of helping me in bicentennial salute. Never had a plan been conceived so quickly and completely by a Beer Python, or by mere humans for that matter. It would certainly be something to see.
We discussed the details at length and then unhesitatingly emptied our spare ice chest of its inhabitants. We carried the ice chest downstream until we came to the beaver which floated puffed and flabulent in the water, just where I had left it. We loaded the beaver into the ice chest and headed back to camp. There was great anticipation in the air and little talk. Everyone was occupied with his own ideas of what the reaction would be once the plan was carried out.
Night was approaching as we settle back into camp. The moon was glowing just above the trees. We did little more that evening aside from the initial actions that prelude a massive hangover.
The next morning we loaded the beaver laden ice chest into the back of our sputterford and headed towards the nearest large city. In this case it would be Bakersfield. Poor Bakersfield. Bakersfield, for those of you who might not realize, is a city of about a hundred thousand or so people located in the Southern part of California. Bakersfield is a typical hot desert town. Bakersfield is also a town soon to be invaded by crazed loons and a Beer Python with hideous bicentennial thought racing through their brains. In a year of bicentennial events no one would top the Beer Python and his buddies. We would see to that.
We arrived in Bakersfield at about 3:30 Pacific time and went looking for a Red Devil fireworks stand.
We found a fireworks stand on almost every other corner and had no trouble picking one that was just right for us. We bought up all the glitterers, exploders, gushers, geysers, flamers, smokers and whistlers that we could afford. We tied all of these onto one main fuse and stuffed them into the beaver.
If you can imagine what a three day old dead beaver smells like then you have some idea of what all of us smelled like. Another problem was starting to haunt us now. The beaver in all of its glory was becoming more puffed and flabulent and swollen than ever, due no doubt to the days high temperature. After loading the beaver back into the ice chest we went across the street to a service station to wash up. Obtaining the key from the attendant was a trial in itself. He gave me the key after some discussion and after that he muttered something about defecation, remaining all the while at a safe distance.
Driving down the street we were aided by a fifth of Black Velvet which was purchased by a fellow beaver explorer while the other two of us were washing the beaver germs off of us. He picked it up because of something he termed "Beaver Madness". From that point on the whiskey was know and referred to as 'serum'.
Soon we entered the parking lot that served a large department type store. We found a parking spot close to the entrance and got out to unload the beaver. We took the ice chest containing the beaver indoors getting only moderately inquisitive glances and no confrontations with store employees.
Upon reaching a suitable point near the middle of the store we hoisted the beaver out of the ice chest up onto a Desenex display stand that rose about seven feet above the floor. We lit the fuse.
Acting as inconspicuous as a python out of water I headed for the door with my cohorts right behind carrying the empty ice chest. By the time we reached the door the beaver had drawn a small gathering and was sputtering and oozing to some extent. We stood as the door majestically swaying back and forth singing the National anthem when all of a sudden the beaver exploded. Pieces of beaver flew all the way to the sporting goods section on the other side of the store. The crowd that had gathered around the beaver was dispersed, seeking cover wherever they might.
The whole store was ablaze with a fireworks display that would certainly have outdone even the LA Coliseum.
As we turned to go we saw what was left of the beaver stand up on it's side and explode. Finally sending it to that big dam in the sky, stopping off first in lady's lingerie. We left for the car at a trot, threw the ice chest into the back and headed straight out of town. By the time we reached our camp nightfall was approaching and drunkenness had been with us for some time. A Python requires water so I headed down to the mighty Kern to float, satisfied for awhile, and unaware of what lay ahead of me downstream in yet another unguarded inlet.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2er de Frog

OK .... I know,I know that Bob Roll has educated us all the past few years that the real pronunciation is The Tour DAY France.... but I sorta like the whole frog thing...being as it is the French and all.

Or as I understand it this year it's returned as the Tour de Lance once again.

Damn you moron Americans (Oh ya that includes me) the Tour de France is much more than just a venue for America's favorite Texan (but only because Stevie Ray died) to shine and show the world that Americans are always ready to kick ass on the rest of the planet wanna-be's.

My problem stems from the American Press' tendency to all but ignore the rest of the tours teams and riders.....even other American riders!

I mean...I get it..Lance is the man...he's cool...he's newsworthy....his cause is trendy and legitimately relevant plus he's the second greatest American rider of all time...but come on....It's the Tour de France......something I consider the greatest single race on the planet. A great spectacle in it's own right.

And 'I Know' Lance is synonymous with the tour and has been for most of this decade...damn it..I get it..please....quite slashing my bike tires.........

But there are other very interesting riders leaving their hearts on the road this year in THE tour as well. Just like there is every year. A lot of people that I'm acquainted with.... that have only a passing interest in the event know that I follow it passionately....and will take the opportunity to catch up on what's happening whenever they encounter me......I just wish that once of them...would ask me something more than "How did Lance do today" or "Is Lance in the yellow Jersey yet?"

But of course I blame the American media and the short attention span of the American public....a short attention span that the press created. It isn't Lance's fault.

Perhaps I should just be happy that cycling is getting any attention at all?

Why am I whining about it?

Because it is a great sport.... unique...complicated....full of interesting history and something everyone of us can do on our own level. Ride that is...which is hopefully what will eventually occur more often all over America once Lance has retired for good in a year or two. Lance himself is promoting that message as well.

So ya...I guess I'll just get out there and do 20 miles or so and pretend that I'm Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Edde Merckx, Fabian Cancellara or Fausto Coppi. Because you can take the kid off the bike but you'll never get the joker out of his spokes, or the visions of the tour out of his head.

And don't even get me started on where the hell Chris Horner is!

Deschutes Black Butte XXI

Thursday is Owl Club day for us and today was certainly no exception. The beer of the day was the renowned Black Butte Porter XXI.
I gotta be frank (although I always think of Zappa when I say that) this beer is just the freakin bomb. When I finally ordered a pint (I had to try and dust the keg of Deschutes Cinder Cone Red first) I was just literally blown away and unprepared for the chocolate and coffee onslaught that I encountered. Oh my.
It's listed at 11% Abv and I suppose that's correct although the beers drink-ability (ha!) certainly hinted that it could be less which only increased my enjoyment and appreciation.
I'd like to say that I had examples of all the previous releases to compair but alas that would be a bold ass fabrication.
And as everyone knows...I would never fall to that level......
So.....I hope... for your own enjoyment that you find this beer in copious amounts.
And hey..speaking of copious amounts...Terri found Laugunita Hop Stoopid today for $3.29 a bottle........but no worries....we grabbed up 15 or so bottles....just in come over and want some. Party on Garth.....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If this was that ...I'd be King

My home was a long way off but a short ride ahead as I squinted through the haze of my long overdue windshield that bore little resemblance to the scene passing through the story of the ride that I was imagining.
Yes was the unmistakable call of the retched jackrabbit virgin .... drunk on too much disco and wearing the night air like cascading crescendos of mocking Mojave River moonlight.
No time for even the thought of a breath as the headlights bobbed briefly on the asphalt moguls insidiously spaced in increasingly madding swaths across the desert tundra.
Faster I screamed at the driver I hoped was not me...faster I say...will this ride never end?
And so it did and did not .... simultaneously taking me and leaving me upon the far off doorstep of another bid to reach the beginning of my end.