War Talk

First off the latest from some one in the Gulf.

From: Big Dave
Subject: lowly soldier

Well, I was “coerced” into turning my packet in here…Kuwait. Great. They yanked my security clearance and put me to work as the head count at the chow hall. 3,000 something for lunch today. My hours are shorter, so I have more time for exercise and stuff like that. I don’t have as much computer time, but I have enough to converse with you guys a little.

My mom sent a bunch of stuff today. I gathered up all the excess goodies I’ve slowly collected (and since my greedy coworkers don’t need any of it), I gave it to some Marines who where staying in BFE. They were stoked.

I have no clue what is going on in the war now. Kind of glad. I’m reading some books and the psychiatrist recommended I get counselling to deal with the “tragedies” I’ve been seeing and hearing at work. Whatever. I just need to get out of this army. It’s a giant machine that can only be stopped by the government that is running it.

People in my unit won’t look at me or they give me the evil eye. I don’t think any of them took it seriously until I turned the packet in. I’m being rushed through so far, but we’ll see what happens later. Pentagon has to approve last.

Big Dave

I think this campaign in Iraq is wrong and things like the Americans saying it’s not their responsibility to stop the looting only confirms my opinions. Sadaam Hussein may have been a bad leader in some ways but at least he managed to maintain law and order, something that the American’s don’t have a fantastic record of in their own country let alone in a foreign one. They’ve removed the stabilising element from the country so in my opinion they should be responsible for ensuring a safe city until a new government can be established. Now call me a cynic but the fact that it will probably be American multi-national firms that get the contracts to re-fit all the pillaged hospitals and generally help ‘rebuild’ Iraq, thus boosting a slowing US economy, may play a rather large factor in the whole thing.

Another week in the bike shop has ended and I’m planning a ride for tomorrow. North Wales seems to be off as Ben has chickened out something about being really tired and having to work a seven-day week next week. So it’s off to the Peaks for me…


It’s been a long week since my last post, but the time seems to have flown by. While everyone was down at Coed y Brenin’s Fat Tyre Fest last weekend, I was back in Norfolk supposedly doing some belated landscape gardening. In fact I wasn’t doing what I intended, because none of the raw materials were there, so I spent four and a half hours driving around Norwich trying to secure the raw materials. I think I went to every builders merchants and DIY centre going. I even had to buy a map to find one of them. Of course, I managed to find what I needed in the last place I visited. Ain’t that always the way?

So that, work and an unhealthy dose of Splinter Cell has prevented me from riding my bike. I’m still trying to get these titanium spokes from the USA and my e-mail is buggered. I’ve sent a message to the support team, unless they come up with a fix I’m going to be getting a new address. All this and loads of news from Big Dave:

From: Big Dave
Subject: I’m still here

For SOME of you, you’re probably wondering where I’ve been as I have not been sending out an update to everyone as of late. So let me fill you in.

2 days before this stupid crap kicked off, our chaplain quoted some old testament justifying our stance in the eyes of what some people call God. Don’t be offended here please.

I got real angry. Very angry. I started feeling pain and hurt for our country, because….now trust me on this one….it’s not going to benefit anyone. The people of Iraq are not going to settle into the shining beacon of democracy that we are hoping for. This will benefit the unification of the arab world to fight off western influence and poor policies. Oil will be cheaper, but we will be buying less from the saudi’s (the country where most of the terrorists came from and Osama’s homeland) and they are going to get pissed. Oil will be cheaper, but with the use of SUV’s in america, you can count on higher polution. Wondering why all of your kid’s have asthma? Hmmmm…

So I immersed myself in my job. Making sure all the links were working and so forth. Then I started seeing the glory seekers and the ego freaks show their true colors. Decisions were being made that were getting soldiers killed. Accidents were happening and people were dying….still are. Really dumb choices were taking place and people were winding up in situations they were trained for. I saw a general go from smiles to sadness in a few days.

As for stopping the short range missiles, we did our job. As for Sadaam having missiles that violated un sanctions….well, he hasn’t fired any yet. Chemical….they are finding some things, but mostly for defensive measures (suits, atropine, mask filters, etc.)

I began to here how many bombs were being dropped. A $100K bomb on a $100 house. Or just random bombs that were not selected for specific targets just dropped in a field so the pilot could get home without refueling.

Then there were the things I can’t tell you about. Stuff that will probably not ever make it to the news, and by the time this is all over, people really won’t care. The guys in charge sure didn’t care.

We had a group go into Iraq to scout a location for our forward command cell. They came back all stoked to be going to Iraq. Taking all our gear and stuff and setting it up to show off to all the other units. Problem is that we would be losing about 60% of our capabilities. They just wanted to go anyway to say they went.

When I first got here, I thought the same thing, but then I started putting myself in someone elses shoes. Someone who watched their leader defy the free world by allowing sanctions to continue….sanctions that could have been lifted if done properly. Just think about it. If we dumped shiploads of medical gear into the port of basra along with volunteers from many of the NGO’s around the world, and Sadaam said go away, then it would have been sadaam’s fault. But we never did that. Food for oil was a joke. Farm machinery for oil wouldn’t work because all the tractors could be turned into military vehicles. Chlorine to purify water could be used to kill people in a gas attack. The materials to build a purification plant could be used in a lab to make evil stuff.

So now we are rolling along into Bagdad as you are seeing on tv. Good stuff. But I’ve discovered something about myself…I’m a conscientious objector. No way I would want to kill someone unless they were encroaching on my liberties and threatening my life. “Don’t tread on me” as my friend Wes has tattood on his belly. The same saying on the flag I use to see flying outside the museum at the Citadel. If I were to go to Iraq, would I be going in the manner that the Iraqi people really wanted to see? Probably not. Killing off all those bad dudes has allowed them to have a little more freedom, but now they are subjects of someone else. Not truly free….at least as of yet.

It will remain to be seen whether or not Iraq allows themselves to set up a government that we “approve of.” Centuries of tribal feuding didn’t end when sadaam was in power and even gassed away a few thousand. It continued.

I tried putting myself in the shoes of a good iraqi. One who kept his mouth closed during the evil regime just to survive. One who didn’t really like sadaam, but could do nothing but die if he tried to organize a group. I might be glad, but now I’m subject to western society. I’ve been taught that that’s bad. What do I do now? How long will I have to play the US’s game. What will happen to the home I have made? If I leave my home to head out of the city, will it be bombed or taken over by one of my neighbors just to return and start fighting with him to get it back? Lost of questions like that.

Well, I guess my answer is simple. No more violence. By striking first and succeeding, we’ve set an example for every child in america that it is okay to take the first swing at someone….even if you just THINK they are threatening you. Don’t bother trying to walk away after talking it out. Video tape yourself with your demands and send the video to this person that is oppressing you or annoying you. Then, after he requests to debate you, beat the shit out of him and all his friends. That’s the example we just set for every kid in america. Sadaam was bad, this is how you get rid of bad. Think about it. No talking on a personal level. No trying to negotiate face to face. Use a mediator, your friends, to do the talking for you. Or continue to make the videos.

After we settle into this, expect preemptives on others. They want be as easy as this one, and this one has been easy. Expensive, but easy.

So I find myself in this moral dilemma. And I choose non-violence. Luckily I’m in a unit that is fairly understanding. After telling them I was going to turn in a packet for a discharge, people were shocked. After listening to me and reading my story, most understood. Others were still blinded by patriotism to the government that puts food in their mouth. Guys with 27 years. They know nothing else. This is what makes them money. War pay is the Christmas bonus they don’t get.

No one has told me to get out except one person….and he’s an asshole. Another suggested doing it after I get home. Both I will tell you about in more detail later. The asshole is a good one. I’m tempted to give you all his wife’s # so you can ask her how she feels about it all. That would be some funny stuff.

So I’m going to ride this one out. We’ll be gone soon. Our mission is complete here. We are starting to cause more problems than we can solve. I should be home by summer. It would be nice to be back by Big Bear, but I don’t think so. What’s the date on that anyway. Last time it was the weekend of my birthday. Good stuff.

Thanks for the care packages.

Big Dave

I’ve been keeping notes. They are not too readable, but hopefully I will be able to get it all together in a book.

A book. That’s a good plan, if Andy McNab can write one then I’m sure Dave can produce a literary text of some appeal. And there’s more, here’s the next day’s post:

From: Big Dave
Subject: Make up for some time here

April 6, 2003

This has been a wonderful journey for me. I gave up a lifestyle that I dream of living again soon to do something for myself, my wife, and the country. After a while, I realize that what the government does for our country isn’t always the best thing. I start to learn more about this after Sept.11. Lots of dark stuff going on. I get to hear a little bit more about it than the average American just because of my job.

So here I am in Kuwait, watching the children of america fight this war over evil. At least that’s the way my father sees it. Yes, Sadaam is a bad dude. We all know that. But if you really look at how and why he got to be the way he is, then you start pointing fingers at Reagan, Bush #1, and Clinton. Clinton was probably the worst because he had a chance to help the Kurds take him out. And yes, we (all of you cyclist out there at least) all know that this is about oil. Just look at how well we kept all those oil wells from catching fire. Too bad we didn’t have any refugee camps set up. We ended up putting most of the people that fled their cities in POW camps – if they really needed food and shelter. The humanitarian aid is making its way in and that’s good.

So this war gets going and people start dying on both sides. I’m listening to massive amounts of bombs being dropped as well as plenty of depleted uranium being used to destroy light trucks. Good stuff. I’ve tried to keep a light heart about all this, but it’s just too much. The planet is crying in Iraq today and it will cry more as time goes by. Soldiers who have been handling all the DU ammo and have to repair the tanks with DU armor will start getting sick here soon. More kids in Iraq will be born with birth defects. Farms will be contaminated with DU dust. There is a lot more that I can’t tell you about.

I here missiles flying over head and I get interviewed by CNN as they do a documentary. I feel relief when the A10’s hit the persistent launcher in Basra with a missile.

Then I get real angry. I wish bad things on those who do what they think is right for America. I get angry at my lame chaplain who tries to be a cheerleader for this war by quoting old testament scripture. I get angry at those who do not distinguish between Iraqi civilians and Sadaam’s fighters. They are all Iraqi’s to those guys. I get angry when I hear about how a general doesn’t care about how many soldiers he loses. And I get angry when I hear someone say they just want to set foot on Iraqi soil so they can say they we part of the war. But most of all…..I get angry at myself. Why did I let it go this far?

I let it go this far because I was selfish. I wanted a better way of life for me and my wife, and I realized that I was doing it at the expense of the lives of many Iraqi’s. So I figure out for sure that I’m a conscientious objector. I spend some time hammering out an application to get myself out of all of this. Then I slow down, talk it over with others, and realize that there’s not much I can do about it now.

So let me take you through a series of events.

I told my immediate chain of command. They understood. A couple were pissed, but they understood. I’m a non-violent dude. I just want everyone in the world to be able to ride their bikes and be happy. Later that afternoon, I tell my First Sergeant and my battery Commander (BC). The BC is the one who makes the choice on whether or not I can be a CO. Both of those shitbags lose their shit. I’m for sure they would have hit me if my SGT. Major hadn’t been there. I look at them like…whatever.

I worked all night on my packet. The next day I go to a chaplain. I don’t tell him my dilemma. I just start telling him my story. He cries with me during parts of my story. He enlightens me on many things. He makes it easy for me to verify that I am truly a CO. So I finish the packet. I decide to let others read it. They all agree. I’m a CO. A colonel with 27 years, he cries. Another col. tries to instill “war pride” in me when he asks how I will feel when I tell my neices and nephews that I was a CO.

So people are compassionate with me. Others can’t look me in the eye. My immediate supervisor asks me how I would feel if we went into Iraq. I tell him that I would be more comfortable going in with civilian clothes on and an outstretched hand offering help to those who need it. He tells me I need to turn in my packet.

The officers in my unit tell me to ride this one out. I’m on the toilet, no sense breaking it off early. It’s sometimes too messy when you do that. So I decide to wait. It will be easier when I get home. I will be able to prepare better for all the stuff I need to do. And they will see that it is not combat stress that I am feeling. Not that I’m really in combat. I still feel like I’m in prison.

Now the funny stuff begins. And I’ll share all that later. Man the army is a selfish place.

Big Dave

P.S. Do you guys think the terror alert would be HIGH if we weren’t over here squashing Muslims?

There are some good points about the environmental impacts in there. DU is just a sure-fired way to reall feck things up. Maybe us human’s just don’t get the big picture in terms of our role within the global sphere. It seems to me a pretty depressing situation to be in, no Boserupian future from where I’m sitting. And here’s the latest instalment from Monday:

So let me tell you about the soap opera existance of a command unit. To fill everybody in on the lowdown of funny crap going on.

Units are broken down into groups. Your smallest group is a squad or a section. Then you put a few of those together and you get a platoon. Several platoons forms a battery or a company. Artillery units call themselves batteries. I’m in a battery. My entire battery is about 150 strong. Half are officers, the other half are enlisted. In command units, there will be several top ranking enlisted and officers. On a day to day basis, the First Sergeant (1SG) and the Battery
Commander (BC), a captain, are in charge of all the “soldiers.” This doesn’t count the officers; just pieces of crap like me.

My 1SG has a saying: Know the standard and enforce the standard. I always ask, Why not just live the standard? This guy is about 5’5″ and has coke bottle glasses. He’s on wife # 2 and has a bunch of kids. He has 2 suburbans and a mini-van. He drives the suburban with all the stuff he needs to live….in case his wife kicks him out of the house. He’s an asshole. You can ask anyone in my unit. He’s an asshole. He got kicked out of the house before thanksgiving and lived out of a piece of s#$@ rv on work property. The wife he has now, he met when he was a drill sergeant and she was a trainee. That’s really bad stuff. Really bad. But he’s still in the army.

This same sawed off piece of crap is the same one that got mad at me when I told him that no one is ready to go to the desert for potential war. His statement to me was, “Hell, I’ve got unfinished business over there.” I guess he didn’t get enough DU contamination or chem in his cereal so he wants to go back for another dose.

When I told this asshole about my decision to declare myself as a conscientious objector, he lost his shit. Lost it. I thought he was going to try to hit me. I wish he had. He’d be gone.

After getting all my stuff together, my section mates told me to ride this one out because it will be much easier for me to take care of all this at Ft. Bliss. They are right. Doing all this crap in war zone isn’t going to help me in any way.

So the other day, this soldier tells me she’s getting promoted. I tell her that the rank she is going to have is the best in the army. Superiors expect you to do a good job, but they can’t really hold you accountable. And you are not responsible for any soldiers. I told her to find a creed that is a spoof of a real creed that Sergeants are supposed to know. She goes asking around for this creed and comes across the 1SG.

He loses it again. He walked into the room I was in and addresses me in front of my bosses. “SGT Wilson, instead of spending time telling soldiers to look up disrespectful things like the specialist creed, why don’t you work on your f#$%(^* packet and hurry up and turn that thing in.” Dude…..I’m like….what the hell?

I look at him and reply, “1SG, I’m sorry I performed that inappropriate action. I will let SPC Vidal know that it was wrong. As for my packet, I will be finishing the task at hand here in this war, then turn it in when I return to Bliss.” He lost his shit again. He can’t look at me. He hates it that I’m continuing to do my job. Everybody is very pleased with my performance. People are thanking me.

Now for the story on my BC. This guy came into power right before Christmas. He sits us all down in the big conference room and tells us his story and beliefs. He starts out by telling us he’s a military brat. Then he goes to Auburn U. to play football. Got drafted and ended up with the Cowboys for 2 years as a kicker. Lost a fiancee to a drunk driver while she was on her way to a game. Played arena football. Got 2 masters degrees. Worked as social worker doing child abuse stuff. High school principal in SC. On and on. I’m trying to add this stuff up. No way he could have done all this stuff. No way.

So I go to the Auburn U. home page. Go to football. Click on “all football lettermen.” If you set foot on the field, you lettered. No Randy Smith. Then I download all Cowboy’s rosters from 84 to 92. No Randy Smith. I printed it and dissiminated the info.

So the unit turns. Assholes and liars. And I continue to serve a purpose I feel is wrong. War. And it’s ugly.

Big Dave

One man’s perspective on the Iraq War. Right off to work in the Bike shop.

New Tyres

Some new tyres arrived for the M5 today. I thought I’d try some classic race tyres and now have set of Continental Cross Country’s, 1.5″ skinny little things should be fast as chuff once I get them on. Not too sure what the cornering is going to be like, but I reckon it could be a laugh. Anyway since Specialized UK can’t get me the Roll X S-Works tyres I wanted, I needed something else. I guess there were always the Conti Supersonics, but I’m not sure if I fancy fixing punctures every five minutes. Anyway, I’ll see how I get on with them.

Classic line from the bike shop today. A woman came in wanting to buy a multi-tool. She recounted this story from a recent holiday: ‘We were out on the trail and someone had a mechanical, so we stopped so it could be fixed. This guy whipped out his tool. It was the best I’ve ever seen… and I just had to have it”. Comments laden with such innuendo said with such angelic innocence always seem to provoke much mirth amonsgt us…

DC Stickers

Loads of stickers arrived this morning from Tucson, Arizona from Jon. They’re now all gone. Some people’s lives will be changed for ever, others will never know what they missed* (*this may be complete bollocks). Sorry if you didn’t get one, there just weren’t enough to go around. Also sorry if you end up getting busted for looking at his site whilst at work (I forgot to warn that it isn’t safe for work viewing), but then again…why were you on singletrackworld? Shirking off work is going to end in tears.

Road the Karrimor at Coed y Brenin on Monday. Though I’d better get down there whilst the weather held. Best days riding this year. Some lovely flowing sections and the rebuilt FSR is just a great bike for the trails. Scared the living bejesus out of some guy from Derby on the long fire road climb, but that was the only rider doing the route. The sun shone, the trails were dusty, I’ll be going back for more. Bit of bad news on the Cafe front, looks liek the contractual dispute may end up going to court. The whole think stinks in my book.

Should be phoning the US tonight to order some more ti-dye spokes from Marwi, I need to get the M5 going again. Not sure why no one’s importing Union’s Ti Spokes here, but you’re all missing out. The new xc tyres should be in soon too, thought I’d try some of Conti’s skinniest little numbers


Back to Basics.

On Friday I finished building a bike that has been adorning my kitchen wall for the last six months. Free from its captivity as an expensive item of interior decor and having waited patiently for me to acquire all the necessary components to put it back together, we were keen to get on the trails once again. Alas Friday night’s meal resulted in food poisoning that left me out of action all day Saturday.

This morning the clocks had sprung forward an hour, the sun was eagerly trying to break through the clouds, I was feeling like eating something again (I must be feeling better) and the bike was still lurking there, beckoning me to take it out to play. Any plans of getting dirty with each other were shot down in flames when Jo reminded me that I had promised her to spend some quality time with her. So the early morning hours were spent digging out the walking boots and get ready for a day hill-walking in the Peaks.

I have only been on the train to Edale without the accompaniment of a bike on two occasions. Both have been walking trips and yet again today I am tormented by a group of other riders whose bikes are onboard and together with us are being whisked towards the hills. The carriage feels lonely without one of my bikes there and I feel out of place. I should be memorising the route from the map, doing last minute kit checks, psyching myself up too. My day-dreaming is broken by Jo wanting to know whether we are nearly there yet. Our imminent arrival at our destination is marked by the train bursts out of the Gowburn tunnel to find the Vale of Edale basking in warm sunshine.

A quick cup of tea at the Station Cafe and there some more riders are having a mid-ride break. Jo and I discuss a route for the day and whether or not that was a sausage dog that just walked by. Neither of us feel to ambitious after yesterday and the plan is to stomp up to Hollins Cross and traverse along and down to Hope for Lunch. As we contemplate a group of riders stop by to stock up on cake for their ride. Here the potential for subconscious bike snobbery kicks in, ah one of those, not much of a bike by some people’s standards. A second look reveals that they seem to know what they’re doing though and there’s some nice upgrades fitted here and there. Maybe they’re first bikes.

I remember my first bike. I wouldn’t want to ride it now, but then I didn’t know anything more about bikes than how to fix a puncture. My mountain bike was my first geared bike and the first that allowed me to do some real exploring. As I became a ‘mountain biker’, learned about riding the painful, slow, expensive way, I became more and more addicted. As bits wore out or broke, I bought new bits that were a bit better. More gears, lighter, shinier. I remember that have a bike worth more than the car used to ferry it from place to place doesn’t matter. The look on the faces of these people tells me they are happy riders. Big grins from ear to ear, it’s not the bike that matters it’s what the bike lets you do and where it lets you get to.

We set off and soak up the sunshine. It’s a great day and I’m out with in the countryside with my beautiful girlfriend. I explain to her that some of the route were walking are Bridleways that I ride quite often. I’m checking the trail conditions and making mental notes as we walk. After today I’m going to need to be out here riding again soon. We don’t see any riders out on our chosen route. Plenty of walkers with their silly ski poles, but no riders with horrendous day-glo lycra. I’m reminded that the thing I enjoy about walking is that there are more opportunities to soak up the scenery, which in turn makes me realise why I love it out here. It’s not just the great trails, it’s the landscape they run across.

After lunch in Hope, as we sit outside the pub in the sun, a group of riders turn up having just finished their ride. I’m only half listening to Jo at some points in our conversation whilst I eavesdrop on the tales recollected from the days riding and past epics. More happy riders. I’m jealous and planning a day off work tomorrow. The weather has to hold! Tomorrow I’m going to go and ride some trails that I’ve never ridden before and my bike is definitely coming with me.

Laura Boo

Dave Wilson out in Iraq sent in a copy of this article. Looks like Mr Bush has some interesting family history. And this rocked up from Laura:

From: Laura

Subject: No Subject

hey hunny just a quick one! we’ve had tons of snow here! its been dumping all week! done quite a bit of riding! taking the day off chillin with my friends after a pretty heavy night last night! plus some of the roads are still blocked to get to some of the better resorts after a few feet of snow yesterday! my best friend from england is here until to tomorrow so its been awesome to see her! well my spring break is over now! 6 weeks of uni left! whooopeee! ok will speak to you soon Lxx

So where’s the good snow been this year? Well pretty much everywhere from what I can tell, Europe’s been good and as normal the North American resorts are getting plenty of powder. Well, I had one powder day in two weeks boarding this year can’t complain about that, but I do NEED a longer board.

Todays excitement was managing to get food poisoning from last nights dinner. Been as sick as a dog all morning and I still feel pretty rough now and I’m getting hungry. Typical isn’t it just get the bike ready to ride then something comes along to bugger things up. No riding for me tomorrow.

FSR: Rebuilt

It’s finished, it’s finished, it’s finished hoorah! The FSR is finally back together! Bit of a face lift, gone are the v-brakes and skinny cross-country wheels and tyres and flatbar and skinny racing saddle. In are Hope discs, freeride wheels, decent tyres (thought I’d give this tubeless thing a whirl) riser bars and a sofa-like Bel Air saddle. I’m running it with the full 6″ travel and compared with the standard bushes, the BETD bearing kit makes a huge difference to the sensitivity of the rear end – even before you get on the bike. There is actually a real need to adjust the rebound damping on the shock now! Pictures coming soon.

Few e-mails today. The first is from Big Dave, out in the Gulf. Big Jonny has been posting regular messages from Dave for a bit, check out his archives for earlier e-mails from a US Soldier who’s quite frank about why he thinks he’s going into Iraq:

From: Big Dave

Subject: abibil abib

3 times now I’ve had patriots zoom over me. 5 times now we’ve had missiles launched directly at our camp. The missiles have all come from one place….and we’ve been swatting them down with good success. We ended up naming the commander of the enemy unit Abibil Abib. The missiles he is firing at us are Abibil 100’s. Sounds like a cigarette. They are all ranging around that 180k limit. Whatever. They are coming close.

For days the Air Force was being too lazy to find him and would only fly over at 30,000 feet or so. Like you can see anything from that distance. But after yesterday’s launch, we got some Marine A10’s on him real fast and waxed him and the road he uses. He’s been quiet now for about 28 hours. We think he may have a brother, Abibil Ali. We’ll see. I think the the presence of the brits on the ground has him running.

The farce has begun in full force now. I saw a rerun of Mogudishi on tv when everyone started fighting over the food we were giving out. What a sack. We should have lifted sanctions on these guys long ago. I don’t think we have a clue as to how many mouths we will have to feed. It will be interesting to see if a country that sits in the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates will ever be able to sustain itself in any way. I’m very disappointed that Bush doesn’t want the UN to help with the future of the Iraqi govt. I hear he wants to start education programs and stuff like that. Damn, he can’t even get that stuff straight in America.

I’m really pissed about the “secret” bidding for rebuilding contracts. What a crock of shit. Kellog/Brown and Root. Damn. Who would have guessed. I hope Bush, his daddy, his lame coke head daughters, and the rest of his cronies (including Colin Powell-he tried but knew no other way that using a big stick) get really filthy rich off all this stuff. Then as america collapses around them, they’ll realize that you can’t eat money. Aiding in the killing so George can drive a stretch hummvee and his daddy can fish for crappie in his Scarab, Big Dave

This is mildly amusing along the same theme too:

From: Iain Subject: Funniest War Story Yet? A quote from Sky News: “Umm Qasr is a city similar to Southampton,” UK defence minister Geoff Hoon said in The Commons yesterday. “He’s either never been to Southampton, or he’s never been to Umm Qasr” says a British soldier patrolling Umm Qasr. Another soldier added: “There’s no beer, no prostitutes and people are shooting at us. It’s more like Portsmouth.”

Highlight of the week: I found out today that on Wednesday a certain bike shop propietor who should know better tried to combine a Hope M4 lever with a Grimeca caliper by cutting the disc hose in half (before bleeding it) and well, lets just say the next bit involved a roll of sellotape. Let’s just say there is one disc brake no longer for sale. Oh how we laughed.

Mini In

Bike shop phoned today. The Hope Mini I ordered has come in. That now means I have both disc brakes for my FSR build up, lets just hope (ahem) the tyres turn up, otherwise I’m a bit scuppered. What else, what else, what else? Well came across this today, mountain biking engineers making nice bits of kit.

Bad news today from the Singletrack Forum, Russ Pinder’s diagnosis is pretty serious. It looks for the time being at least that he has lost the use of his body from the chest down. I never met the chap, but I sincerely wish Russ and his family the best of fortunes for the future and I’m wishing that Russ turns out to be one of these people who battles on and makes a full recovery.

Some of you may have been following the life of Big Dave, a US Soldier in the Gulf, on Big Jonny’s DC site. Well today I had an e-mail from the chap and it seems like he’s been chatting to some of our guys from around these parts. I wonder if they were trying to sell him some Specialized bikes? It seems that Iraqi TV has been showing some of our guys on the TV too, no doubt they have been watching the US coverage of the Afghans held in Guantanamo Bay. Bush beware, Mr. T is on your case sucka! More crazy T action here.


Well by the end of this week the FSR should be taking its final form – if all the necessary bit and pieces that have been ordered turn up that is. Anyway whilst I was rooting through the bits box at home – a ruthless clean out with plenty of kit going to be recycled and binned – I unearthed my old onZa buzzsaw. Yes 36 teeth of stainless steel fury. New dimensions in the world of knee busting single speed gearing have now been opened.

I’ve been home working on the house in Norfolk for a few days. I think next to being out in the middle of nowhere on your bike the next best thing for contemplation and philosophy is chopping wood. I did a lot of contemplating and philosophying. The sun shone, I worked outside for three days. Life was grand. I also has a chance to look at my own work over a modem connection. I now realise the need to optimise the site for slower connections and I’ve tried to do that today. I posted this today on the Singletrack forum. It sums up what I’ve been thinging about the last few days:

I haven’t posted a lot over the conflict, partly because I feel that the topic is out of context on a Mountain Biking website, but I feel it is sad that the certain people are giving the military a rough ride over the war. Ultimately they are just doing the jobs they are paid to do. Few people could deal with the situations that our professionally trained forces deal with on a day-to-day basis and are in general very good at. Many of these military personnel will not come home alive, some may never come home. Others may bear the scars of this war for the rest of their lives. Some will suffer due to unforeseen mechanical or technological failures (like many mountain bikers out on the trails), but theirs will have far more serious consequences.

Whilst the soldiers of the coalition forces go to work in Iraq, remember that the decision to go to war was one made by the politicians. Many people voiced their concern over the war prior to the decision to invade Iraq. Despite some of the biggest public protests ever witnessed and unprecedented intra-governmental divisions – several political leaders listened to what their public were saying and the positions of other countries over the issue and decided that it was time to send the armed forces into combat. It was the politicians who delivered the spin and hype regarding how quickly the war would be over and what an easy conflict it was going to be. Maybe adopting a military campaign was thought to be easier than adopting a more aggressive political stance with regard to the Iraqi government.

The reason I believe that there are still grounds for an anti-war movement are that through protests and campaigns designed to target the political structure, there is still hope. If public opinion shows an increasing degree of social disapproval with regard to the conflict, then the politicians may be forced to withdraw the Forces from the Gulf. It will be sad if such public opinion only grows belatedly in correlation to increasing body counts. The war on Iraq has created the biggest societal divide within this country for generations, no matter which opinion people have over the conflict, it is good to see that people are at least opinionated and expressing their views.

War is a bloody affair and few people deny that. As spectators we are isolated from it by media coverage whose censored images only portray a fragmented story. The strategy and techniques of modern warfare currently being practiced, where much fighting is carried out at a range of many kilometres, appears to be an inherently “clean” and low risk format. It is quite different to the hand-to-hand street fighting that now seems inevitable if Iraq’s urban areas are to be successfully controlled, to attempt this will involve a much greater commitment of human life. Most people support our Armed Forces at war, few think that they should be fighting and dying in Iraq.

We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it is the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush! – Michael Moore, at the 2003 Academy Awards.

Dangerous Driving

First up a snow report from Boulder, CO.:

From: Laura

Subject: Fluffy White Stuff

A bit of snow! we had 38 inches in 24 hours! they had to close the ski resorts! nightmare!

That by any one’s reckoning is a lot of snow. Definitely a long board powder riding say once they reopen things. Probably not much consolation to those people stuck in an airport or hotel unable to get to the resorts. Anyway whilst the mountainous heart of the USA is smothered in snow, the American military machine starts rolling.

On bike-related matters, the road rage driver who reversed over a four year old girl and her father after he was heckled for cutting them up has been sent down, it seems he wasn’t to happy with the verdict. Full story here. I haven’t much time for people like that it was a malicious and premeditated act and the fact neither were killed by his two tonne Land Rover is a miracle. How can you stop people like that returning to the roads, even if they are banned? Well other than inflicting some sort of serious corporal punishment, I’d say it was pretty damn hard.

An update on the Coed Y Brenin situation came through the post today. A letter on behalf of Bob Farmer at Forestry Enterprise arrived in response to the one I sent regarding Dafydd and Sian’s situation. It merely repeats tha statement previously issued and reported here.

Don’t know what I was expecting really, but it’s good to see that they actually did receive, acknowledge and respond to the initial letter. They’re now also asking for riders input in how the site is developed in future and full details are available on the Singletrack website.

Oh and it turns out some people have been sending me e-mails but I haven’t been getting them. So if you’ve mailed me and I haven’t responded, there’s a strong chance I never received it.