Happy birthday

You may may noticed that music creeps into this bike blog on a regular basis. Usually it is squeezed into some other topic.

This time it doesn’t fit with the next scheduled post, so Charlie McCoy gets his own. Charlie McCoy is one of the greatest harmonica players out there and you have probably never heard of him. He mostly works as a sideman in the country and western genre but I’d put him up there with the blues greats.

One day my roommate came home with an album by this guy I never heard of. We played it constantly.

We think of this as a fiddle tune, but the harmonica was made for railroad songs.
Jazz standards, anyone? (Written by Hoagy Carmichael, best known for Ray Charles’ rendition.)
Gospel
Yes, he plays the blues and he pays his dues to one of the greats.
How about The Beatles?
One of his earliest recordings, with Roy Orbison

Charlie McCoy was born in West Virginia on March 28, 1941. He has been active as a Nashville session player and is one of those people you have heard many times without knowing it, having played on up to 400 sessions per year at the height of his career. He also plays guitar, bass, trumpet, and drums in addition to his better-known work on harp. He sings now and then. He played guitar on Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”. He was the bassist on all of Dylan’s album “John Wesley Harding”. He was probably best known as Musical Director for the TV show “Hee-Haw”, source of the first clip here. For all of its corn, it had some amazing music. He has also worked with Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, JJ Cale, Al Kooper, and Paul Simon, among many others.

Happy birthday, Charlie…and thanks to My Old Pal Ovaltine for introducing me to his music some 50 years ago.

Contrary to the proverb that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”, this year March came in like a lamb with a temperature of 49 degrees F (9.4 C) and is going out like a lion with a temperature of 26 (-3.3 C) as I write this on 3/28 and a forecast for snow on 3/31.

It was four years ago today

that this site was born. It began as the chronicle of a coast-to-coast bike tour. For those who weren’t along for the ride, here is that first post.

But first, a word from our sponsor…This appeared Tuesday on the news webpage of a local TV station.

Screenshot from channel3000.com

Sorry, but I’m speechless.

What is this blog anyway?

This is going to become a blog that will chronicle my trip from Seattle to Boston by bike in the summer of 2018. Think of anything posted here before June 17 (departure day) as an appetizer. Some of it will be for bike geeks, some to explain stuff to non-geeks, some of it will be so family and friends know I am still alive (once on the road), some of it will, I hope, be of interest to anyone who stumbles across it.

The genesis for this trip came in high school. My parents’ plan for me was to go to Harvard or Yale on a full scholarship and then become a doctor. I didn’t really want to go to college (nor were Harvard and Yale offering me four free years) and instead wanted to see the USA on a BMW motorcycle. In those days, BMW was a touring bike and came in any color as long as it was black – or so I thought until I came across a 1959 white R-50 out near Cottage Grove. I decided I was going to buy that bike and laid plans for borrowing my parents’ car when they were away for a weekend so I could drive out there for a test ride. Test ride day was stormy and I never did more than look at that bike, but touring the US by bike stayed in the back of my mind. Below is a reasonable facsimile of that bike.bmw-r50-1955-motoI didn’t go to Harvard or Yale and didn’t become a doctor. I did injure my ankle quite badly when I was 20 and needed a doctor. While recuperating from surgery I watched my roommate go ice skating almost every day. I couldn’t wait to get out and do that. By the time I was back on two feet, skating season was over. I began shopping for a new bicycle, something else I could do with two feet. In spring I bought that bike and motorcycles faded into the background.

The next posts will talk about how the half-formed dream of a US tour became this actual US tour in about 50 years. Posts will be weekly at first. Once on the road I hope to post daily, though that will depend on internet access and battery life.

So you don’t have to remember when posts will come, click the “follow” button to the right (on your desktop) or below (on a tablet or phone) and we’ll send fresh posts to your inbox.

It is now 2022. With a pandemic still raging, we’re not promising anything, but… we ain’t gettin’ any younger…

Favorite Son

Busch Light can in its natural habitat. It will eventually assume its protective coloration. (The blue pigment fades to a pale green. The process has begun.)

A Busch Light can means the half-fast cycling club cleaned its adopted highway again. No further news on that front.

I never tire of this view. Sorry if you do. Look! No litter!
Madison’s Favorite Son, Joel Paterson (from a previous festival – I brought no camera this time)

Our neighborhood summer festivals were combined into one this year. We walked down to the park just long enough to see the set by the Joel Paterson Trio. Joel grew up a few blocks from here. He spent his teen years playing the blues at a neighborhood bar, then moved to Chicago where he plays in multiple bands. A self-proclaimed guitar geek, he plays swing, rockabilly, country, and blues (and a little Hawaiian guitar).

Joel on all instruments in a home pandemic recording
From his all-Beatles solo acoustic guitar album
Guitar and clarinet blues jam
The Western Elstons, his country band
And here’s a full set of his band Modern Sound, from a festival in Spain.

There’s lots more where that came from, including some Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley’s guitarist) and Chet Atkins tributes. I think he should be famous. Listen and see if you agree.

Yeah, I’ve been riding my bike a lot. Back-to-back weekends with centuries coming up in September, so 50-60 mile rides twice a week as well as daily commuting and Wednesday night rides. I haven’t ridden 100 miles in a day since 2019, so we’ll see if I still can.

Hot and humid Wednesday Night Ride

It’s tobacco season, so last week I rode past a crew out cutting tobacco, and this week rode past sheds full of drying tobacco. If you’re not from around here, you probably didn’t realize Wisconsin is tobacco country. Tobacco used to be grown here as cigar wrappers and is now mostly for chewing. It was once a major cash crop. A farmer got an allotment from the state, allowing a set number of acres to be grown. It was hard work (hand planted, hand cut, hand tied and hung, hand stripped from the veins after curing, and bundled for sale) but virtually guaranteed income. If you had an allotment, you grew tobacco. I had a friend who bought a farm with a small allotment and the neighbors thought she was crazy because she chose not to grow tobacco. The tobacco shed (a large barn with louvers that can be opened to increase airflow, and a network of framing from which to hang the poles with bundles of leaves draped over them) was used for storage.

COVID cases are on the rise again and I just finished another tour of duty on the COVID units. Most of my patients this week were not vaccinated. I was vaccinated in December and January. While it is true that I am now magnetic, that’s just my personality and I was that way before the vaccine;) If you have seen the videos of people purporting to prove that the vaccine makes one magnetic, they are either more ignorant than I think they are, or they just blatantly dishonest. The videos show people sticking non-ferrous metals to their skin and claiming it is because the vaccine made them magnetic. I have duplicated that with a penny, bobby pin, paper clip, money clip, button, and a Post-It note. Only one of those would have stuck were magnetism at play. Lest you think I did anything heroic this week, I was safer in this gear (and the sanitation process I go through as I enter and leave each room) than you are if you go into a store, restaurant, or bar (especially if you don’t wear a mask, or anyone else in there doesn’t). You don’t know if you are near someone who is positive. I do.

Don’t say nothin’

We’ve probably all been to a meeting where a lot of words were spoken but nothing was said.

I was at a meeting where someone got in trouble for what wasn’t said…apparently a look caught on camera.

This is an ode to all of those meetings.

In case the links don’t work, or you want to hear the whole tracks instead of the clips, here is the medley:

Clip medley:
1) Talking Heads “Psycho Killer”


2) The Cookies “Don’t Say Nothin’ (Bad About My Baby)”


3) Joe Jones “You Talk Too Much”


4) The Go-Gos “Our Lips are Sealed”


6) The Beatles “Good Morning, Good Morning”


7) Delaney and Bonnie & Friends “I Don’t Want to Discuss it”


8) The Coasters “Yakety Yak”

The other day we posted a photo of a tree in the trail. Here is what now remains of said tree:

The foot is for perspective re: size of the tree.