Saturday, October 13, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles--Should have Had a Bike



I feel so extraordinary, something's got a hold on me. I get this feeling I'm in motion, a certain sense of liberty.--True Faith

I felt like Vasily Zaitsev, Jude Law's character in Enemy at the Gates.  Just standing there looking at what was going on but feeling totally out of place and hosed and helpless for the want of a weapon.  Everyone else had one.  But not Vasily, not I for that matter.

Mary and I were on the trail or path.  Not sure what they called it.  But Des Moines needed it.  And if it was not for my anguish I would have been drooling.  ZOOM!  Bike to my right.  Coming at us was a mtb pulling a Burely.  A few urban bikes next.  Then two jerseys off somewhere.  Had to been a place where you dress like it is the TdF and take a fast carbon road bike.  Dressing like Lance in the city on urban trails is lame otherwise.  But we were in Boulder, Colorado, self proclaimed bicycle capital of the US of A.  Mary and walking like morons, sans bicycles, in every one's way but trying to obey the rules.  What a horrible feeling to be without the weapon of choice, a bike.  Here we were with something like 10K miles between us this year alone and here in our element but so far from it as Eric Landmeir's father once said, "as useless as two tits on a board."

No thoughts of clubbing someone with the suitcase and stealing a pair of bikes.  Theft is wrong.  It is a sin.  It eats away at the very fabric of our civilization.  The karmic effects are too dangerous to ponder.  But a distant hope that two tandems without stokers would roll past.  "TAXI!," I would shout and Mary I would get to our destination much quicker than foot.  A pedicab could make a fortune from people such as Mary and I.

 Wide.  Three lanes.  The inner lane was for pedestrians going either direction.  The middle lane was for bicycles heading one direction.  The outer lane for bicycles heading the other way.  Brilliant!  Have never seen such intelligent planning and foresight since I was in Minneapolis a decade or so ago.  This was better.

And bikes chained up everywhere.  Along fences and signs.  Bike racks everywhere.  The 10 or so Park and Rides our bus stopped at had not only bike racks but bike boxes!  I almost got a woody when I saw the old Pinarello locked up outside Denver International Airport next to a Trek 730.  The buses had bike racks as well.  People here ride.

We should have been in Chicago.  An ugly city that no one ever accused of being bicycle friendly.  But I was a day late in purchasing tickets to see New Order.  I thought the tix went on sale on a Sunday.  And when I fired up "The Beast", my now old custom built pc on that Sunday I saw one of the ugliest images or two words a fan can see, SOLD OUT.  The sale opened on Saturday.  Aragon Ballroom sold out in less than a day.  This was happening everywhere across the US and Canada.  The Oakland gig, Dallas, New York (they added a second night in NYC after selling out so fast), Toronto and now Chicago.  It has been 7 long years since New Order graced North America with its presence.  In 2005 they had something like 5 gigs in the States.  I saw the tour shirt, all dates on back.  Small paragraph.  Almost funny.  And this time barely a few more.  After the sublime 80s they came through in 1993 then 2005.  Like a comet.  Best catch them now.  7 more years they will be retired.

Denver was the easiest choice for two reasons:  possible to drive there and back in a day and secondly, it was not sold out.  It never occurred to me to fly.  As a carless individual the non-essential burning of glorified kerosene for careless leisure is a crime against the earth.  I truly like to smack those environmental nazis that fly to and fro and then tell other people how to live.  Hypocrites.  I greatly eliminated my carbon assprint by selling the car and using my bicycle for transportation.  But now I had some environmental brownie points to cash in.

Choices were simple.  1: use my mother's van that was confiscated from her due to illness.  2: have my son skip school and drive us there in his car.  3: convince a friend that seeing New Order live would be a life altering experience for the positive and that he/she should drive us there.

The answers were obvious.  1:  really like stealing Mom's van and what happens if it breaks down?  It is a Chrysler and I trust MOPAR products as much as I trust a turd not to smell.  2: Quin's car is old and has a nasty tendency to pull to the left when it is about to shift.  It is the only car that I have not firmly placed my foot to the floor and opened the sucker up to see what it could do.  I am too scared to do that with his car.  But in it's defense, it is still running after several months of ownership.  3: none of my friends would fall for that nonsense except for Brad Daggett but he probably needed to work.  The gig was on a Wednesday.


A nice selection of beer at the bar in the Des Moines International Airport.  I started with a Shock Top, one of only 2 AB products I willingly purchase and ONLY if on tap and then had a Stella, Europa's finest skunk lager.  When the barmaid asked me if I fancied a pint or a 20oz I chose the latter.  Not cheap but then again when do drug dealers cut you a break?

So while I was pondering that someone on NewOrderOnline suggested that an aeroplane would be best.  Tickets were cheap at the moment.  Cheaper to fly versus spend 12 hours each way driving a vehicle.  I think the van gets 17 mpg.  that is worse than my old Jaguar.  I looked into it.  $160 round trip.  Cannot lose!  I waited a week and spent $379 for two tickets.  That was cheap.  The friend that told me this waited too long.  What would have been $170 from KC became $440.  He drove the 9 hours from KC to Denver.

This was about Urban Assault time.  At the UAR meeting at Carl Voss's home I asked one of the Adventure Outfitters (UAR officials) about bars near Broomfield, CO, the city of the venue.  He suggested that we stay in Boulder and stop at Mountain Sun Brewery.  He also suggested that taking the bus would be cheaper and easier than renting a car or taking a cab.  Denver has a wonderful bus system.  From the airport to the venue and back.  $13 a piece. Why not?  I could get smashed and let professionals do the driving.  Door to door service. 

What looks good on paper and sounds excellent after not quite 2 drinks is not always without bumps.  Choices for flight departure time was 6 am or 130 pm.  I choose sleep.  The concert starts at 9 pm.  New Order rarely plays for more than an hour and a half, or 14 to 16 songs including encore.  That would give us time to get to the bar near the venue, get half smashed and out in time to catch the last bus to Boulder.  Brilliant!  No need for a car.

Planes.  We flew on an Embraier 190, a small "regional" jet with GE engines strapped underneath the wings and final assembly in Brazil.  First flight in 2001, this century.  Military versions exist as well.  Small bastard.  Two seats and an aisle wide enough for the beverage cart and another two rows of seats.  Frontier Airlines have animal motifs for their planes.  When I looked out the window I saw a deer sniffing a flower painted on the wing canard.  Not especially reassuring.  But then again the 190 was the plane that Sarah Palin chartered for her campaign.  It's longest trip was from Anchorage to NYC of some place like that, returning empty after she was done campaigning.  I am sure she would not have flown in a dangerous plane.  There have been only 3 or 4 crashes with the 190 in its decade of service.  All overseas and in the third World.  A 2 hour hop across the MidWest would not be risky.  Bambi, fuck.  The flight was uneventful.  I had a choice of Colorado adult beverages.  I picked a Flat Tire.

After landing it was time to grab our luggage.  One small suitcase with wheels and a handle.  Small enough for carry on I suppose but I am not a dung beetle that needs to carry all sorts of shit on an airplane and inconveniencing others during boarding and deboarding.  Want to improve service?  "All those without carry on luggage please board first."  All those without carry on bags please depart the plane first."  All I had was the latest issue of Bicycling.  The only other thing I needed was a beer.

Trains.  DIA has rail service from the gate to baggage claim.  After a short walk you are there.  Some cheesy guitar starts up and the doors open.  "GET ON NOW"  The another cheesy guitar chord and the doors shut.  this happens very quickly.  Try not to be behind the aged, infirm and those with children.  A brisk ride underneath the airport to the luggage carousel.

Luggage in hand we strolled to the doors and then spotted the RTD booth.  Queried the man about how and where to catch the bus and we were set.  the ride would be just over an hour depending on traffic.  So far so good.  The plan in motion is working quite well.

Doubts even here.  The bus ride to Boulder was taking a long time.  Some fucktard could not keep his/her vehicle from touching another vehicle and traffic was backing up and slowing down.  And, of course, we were near the last of 11 or so stops.  Allow more time next time, idiot.

The stops the bus made were quick.  It would pull off the freeway into a Park&Ride area.  Damn, bike racks and boxes.  Cool!  Bus riders were professionals.  No mucking around.  No heroin/crack induced stupidity and drama.  Get on and get off.  At least this part was quick.  Unfortunately, our choice for exit was one stop too far.

I counted on walking across the campus of the University of Colorado.  But that was supposed to be the next day when I would be hungover and deaf and not fretting about time.  But now it was getting late.  Pre-gig piss up at the bar was to begin in an hour or so.  I should have sprang the extra C note for the hotel near the venue.  There was a RTD Park&Ride right there!  So simple but I did not like the fact that Aloft Denver raised the price of the room nearly $100 the day of the event.  Any other day I could have had the room for $99+bullshit.  But that C note was needed for t-shirts and booze.  The cheap bastard in me could not wrap me brain around spending that extra scratch.  The only thing I wanted or needed would be a shower and a bed for maybe 6 hours at most.  And place to put this goddamn small suitcase.  Besides, the room we did get was located in the middle of the U of C campus.  There had to be bars, pubs, taverns or establishments that we could visit AFTER the gig.  So here we are back on the path.


Ian aka No Barcode.  Should have used phone for this shot.  I think the settings were still set for the Stone Brewery event in Des Moines a week prior.  This man saved the day.  And I can truly say that Ian drove us to New Order.

The kindness of strangers.  On Ceremony, the NOOL forum for upcoming and recent gigs and performances people were discussing plans.  People were coming in from all over, several from the UK.  My contact goes by "No Barcode" but real name is Ian.  We exchanged phone numbers shortly before the big day.  Time for the opening salvo.   I texted him "Safe!"

Ian: "You in Denver?"  Yes

Ian: I'm searching for a hotel now, then plan to drive to Boulder and then to Broomfield...That's the plan so far, Anything can be changed though"

Me: "Driving back tonight?"  Yep

Brave, brave man.  Maybe when I was in my 20s and 30s I could do that.  I've driven to Chicago and back to see concerts but this is almost twice the distance.  Gets tough out on the interstate late at night.  Tough to stay awake.  I remember opening up the V-12 on the Jag just to stay awake, the fear of being pulled over for excessive  speed squeezed enough adrenalin out of my system to keep me from drifting off to sleep.  Caffeine, cold air and smokes would be required for  a day of 18 hours of driving to an hour an half of music down on the floor fighting all the way to the front.  Dude, call in sick.  Maybe two hours after landing we were in our room.  Ian asked me to text him when we got there.  He would pick us up!  Apparently his wife came up with him but was feeling ill.  She stayed in the room.

Ian was not sure exactly where to go.  He had seen the venue on his way to Boulder.  But the NOOL website was down and I was his only contact.  Having gone to the 2005 Oakland gig he was anxious to meet others.  He new some of The Vikings.  The Vikings are those hardcore new Order fans that travel about the world to see the Manchester group.  The name comes from the tune Funeral for a Viking which used to be the intro music as the band took the stage.  However, they changed the tune to For A Few Dollars More by Ennio Morricone for their last tour and now use his Ecstacy of Gold like a few other bands.  Despite the lack of originality the effect is great.  Lights dim, Morricone's masterpiece starts up, the crowd rises to their feet and 5 wankers that take drugs on stage appear.  The first time I saw The Cure they used Adiago for Strings.  Different effect.

Mary's backseat driving saved us.  We need to go south but it was one of those loop entrance ramps that have you turn counter intuitively the other way.  Follow the signs.  Easy to get there.

1st Bank Center, the venue, is located in the middle of nowhere Broomfield, Co.  Smack in between Denver and Boulder.  Literally nothing there except for the Aloft Hotel, some apartments and store fronts and the event center.  I am willing to bet that there are back roads that a 15 mile bicycle ride could have been an option.  Everything looked so clean and new in fact they still had Mexicans working on a new building!  Friendly?  Not really.  The side streets were barricaded.  "NO EVENT PARKING, RESIDENTS ONLY!!!" posted everywhere.  They even had permanent signs stating this on the one road that was not verboten for us.

Within seconds of final turn I spotted the bar.  it was aptly titled "w xyz".  This was the Aloft Denver Hotel bar.  Business class posh.  Clean.  Clean people.  We were the freaks.  But as promised on the website and on signs on the lamp posts outside, $4 New Belgium pints.  I should have dropped that extra C note.  I immediately ordered 3 pints.  "Would you like to start a tab?"  Yes, yes I would.  Never mind that I have not eaten since breakfast.  I would like to start a tab.  Red Hoptober and Flat Tire.  The venue two blocks away.  Doors open in an hour.  Morricone qued up in 2.5 hours.  The eagle has landed,

But where were The Vikings?  Nobody here looked like concert goers.  Mary and I were the only ones in t-shirts.  Ian still had his leather jacket on.  We left ours in the motel.  Mary wore my 1985 New Order Low-Life tour shirt with the iconic portraits of each member of the band that graced the Low-Life lp.  I wore the DSM Bike Collective shirt with the red star.  It was the coolest shirt that was easy to grab when I hunted for a shirt to wear.  "Mary, turn around to show people the back of the shirt.  It's a beacon." 

Then we saw a man with a black t-shirt that said "No."  Sirens' motif from the 2005 tour.  Sure enough, all five US dates were on back.  Does New Order love to take a piss at their lack of touring in the States.  I almost laughed.  5 dates in 2005.  4 or so in 2001.  and 14 world wide in 1993, the year they should have become bigger than U2.  If only they gave a shit.


Montana on business

Montana was his name.  He lives in Florida.  Managed to arrange a business trip to Denver which coincided with tonight's gig.  he had a lap top with him to do some work to justify this trip.  he changed out of his suit in the Aloft's restroom.  the things we do.

I closed out the tab at over $40.  Time for the gig.  Not going to review it here.  Suffice to say we did not get searched do if I had brought in quality recording devices I would have a sweet bootleg.  Once past check in we headed for the mechanise.  I got 3 shirts, Mary one.  The a punter selling selling 24oz cans of PBR was my next stop.  Then food court.  I think we last ate at 11 am.  More booze than food.  Typical DSM biker mode.  Some sort of Italian pig's in a blanket thingie for me that looked better on the picture than in reality.  Mary found a chicken wrap and Montana a burger.  Ian had the same I think.

They would not let Mary and I on the floor.  "But they paid more for the seats than general admission," Ian pleaded for us.  Oh well.  I am getting too old for that fight.  If I really wanted to I could have jumped the barrier. 

We met up after the gig ended and walked back to w xyz.  Nobody we knew was there.  Ian was still planning to drive home that night.  He left at 130 am and was late for work.  Mary and I went to the sub shop that we spied on our walk through campus.  Close to our room.  After eating walked the block back.  Time to crash.

The Kindness of Strangers II.  Once again my flight planning proved faulty.  To get to DIA in time for our 1030 flight we needed to up and out before dawn.  We had a lovely view of the mountains but did not take the opportunity to photograph them the day before.  Sunrise would have been spectacular but we would have to cath it elsewhere.  Mary wanted coffee.  this was rare.  She actually had the cup in her hand when I stopped her.  "Let's walk to the coffee shop on the corner and get quality."  And so we did.  I had a large Americano with 2" left for half and half.  3 shots of espresso.  Then we walked to the Shell station to use the ATM.  I asked the clerk for directions to the nearest Park&Ride, which was very close.

A bearded young man in his early 30s driving a white Volvo with license plates "420" and some other random letters overheard.  "I could give you a lift to the P&R."  How could we resist?  He had a vague resemblance to Todd Rundall but I did not ask him if he takes his children to bluegrass fests for their birthdays.  He said that he had a friend nearly ruin his life at Broomfield.  Outside the event center his friend was in the proximity of and seen talking to someone who a mere seconds later was arrested for drugs.  Subsequent search of said friend exposed his illicts and apparati for illicts and bang bang went the jail guitar doors.  And I thought the street parking was bad.

He dropped us off a ways down I-36, the lifeline of the Denver/Boulder commute and bus nerve.  There I spoke to a biker who was removing his bike from a box.  "Bicycle Capital of the US," he said proudly.  Having barely scratching the surface I could see a lot of evidence supporting this boast.  But when I queries about riding outside of the urban area out in the country on county highways and such he seemed confused.  Maybe my caffeine intake and moustache scared him.  He mentioned one greenbelt.  I can always spend time on the innerweb and Google Maps to see for myself.  Yet is wonderful to see some many people riding bikes as part of their commute.  Great to know that one metropolitan area invests into the amenities that encourage bike riding.  I knew that tomorrow I would be on the streets and trails of Des Moines again, wondering if someone would yell at me or where would be a safe place to park the bike to run into the store.  Mary and I need to return with bicycles and time.  I want to see for myself if this truly was the what he claimed it was.

Then again, while Des Moines may be behind in times to establishing itself as a true bicycle friendly community, and it has a long, long ways to go, I would not trade all our wonderful trails that stretch for miles and miles and connect communities together via bicycle for anything.  I love our trails.  I love our trees.  The ability to vanish for hours on adventure without the need to worry about cars is priceless and special.

We flew on Humphrey the Bison.  I did not get to see the 190's tail but there was a post it note on the plane's door for the flight attendant to read in case she was queried about the animal theme of the jet.  I had a Dale's Pale Ale on the flight which seemed to be above the clouds all the way.  After nursing it as long as possible I felt the plane change altitude.  Looking out the window I saw the Omaha airport, then wind turbines and Lake Anita.  And trees and rivers.  Iowa.

A 17 mile ride to Windsor Heights Hy Vee for groceries.   I missed one day of riding.  I missed my trails.  The bright colored leaves that were falling made me happy.  Damn, 21 hours out of state.  How many hours off the bike I wondered?  When will plane tickets be cheap again? 

Reverb review of New Order Oct 10, 2012 Broomfield, CO


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