Phil's Bike Tour

Monday, July 11, 2005

it's not the years, it's the mileage

When i wake up i notice i am surrounded by feet. Not happy shiny feet, not sexy delicate feet, not even odd-but-funny monkey toed feet.

stank feet.

No cause for alarm but I can hardly breathe. As I rise it occurs to me that part of my knee's swelling is due to odd sleeping positions. I wonder if my health would have been better served by staying in the alley I passed out in last night. More room to stretch out and fresher air.

We get up and eat some grub and talk some shop. They are excited to host 2006 North American Cycle Courier Championships and press me for details about PDX. I admit I had nothing to do with it, but I know organizing bike events using volunteer labor is no small task. They agree to have polo prominently featured in next year's NACCC. They Hosted the Worlds in 2000 but it was a rush job, as Boston was supposed to host but couldn't at the last second. They are looking forward to having time to prepare sometime awesome.

I am introduced to some southern jargon (south of the mason dixon line Im told everything changes). Can someone remind me what fried grits with kitchen scraps is called? I was so out of sorts all morning I could barely drink my morning vodka w/ Yingling chaser. Hair of the dog seems like it might help my eternally swollen limb. I was all set to pile into the van headed to Philly when I stopped.

"Wait, where is Philadelphia?"

As it turns out getting from Philli to DC would have been a bitch so I waived goodbye to the crew and went back to Aaron's where he and his lady (Melissa?) were trying to figure out my options for going south to the Capital.

"No bus service on Sunday"
"No trains either"
"Fuck it, im on bike tour anyway"

I get some directions that claim to avoid the highway. Me and the internet have a different opinion of what a highway is. The route is US 40 west to US 29 South. That first stretch getting out of Baltimore.... whoa. They put the "EEEE!" back in sketch-EEEE. All manner or debris lines the road which for a good part of the time is in a lowered roadway with 15 foot concrete walls. Fortunately, even the cars dont want to drive in all the rubble and glass and tires and abandoned furniture pieces that litter the right lane so I am sometimes left alone. Of course there are the drivers who feel they need to help you... wIth their horns. My policy is to not respond as long as they are behind me. I figure if they want a conversation they can come up and talk to my face. Still, some drivers aren't sure what to do with a biker in front of them. Going out of your way by changing lanes to pass a biker instead of making them pull over could hurt your reputation, I gather.

a smattering of my favorite conversation starters yelled at me:

"What are you doing?"
"You need to get out the road"
"Why you biking here?"
"You cant be movin'."
"Whatchu thinkin?"
"Ahh man I swear if you dont move..."
"Why are you doin this to me?"

Like I said, this was a 3, 4, and sometimes 5 lane road/bottle return receptacle.

Once I get out of the city life was grand on US-40. There is green everywhere and sometimes a shoulder, and generally really good clean surface. I see a deer only 5 feet off the road in the trees. I couldn't make out what kind.

US-29 was different. Lots of construction, and it felt like any freeway back west. (this makes me wonder what would it have been like on the Interstate, I mean if there is gonna be 4-5 lanes exit ramps and such, what's the difference?) The construction can be good or evil. When I decide it looks too dicey I end up on the freeway with only 2 lanes and no shoulder. Just a concrete barrier on my right and a wall of flying steel on my left. But as dangerous at that must have been, I didn't get harassed much and I didn't feel like I was in peril. Still better is to get on the construction side and take your chances with the debris. I was really lucky though. I had an extra tube but no pump and no presta-shrader converter even if i could get to a gas station.

Soon I'm in the metro sprawl, where i find a dive bar/mexican restaurant in what must be the Latin side of the DC burbs. I meet Louis who tells me he works for a multi-national construction Company. He tells me (from what I can understand using my spanglish skills) that I should call his boss and get a job.

Seems ok, but really do i want to work construction? I mean the doctor told me to ride my bike to make my knee strong... Then he buys my pupusa and rice and bean dish. I was stunned, it was really generous of him, (though i guess it only would have been $3 if I had paid it myself). Moreover do I want to work on rebuilding the Pentagon? Humm, I kinda do actually. Thoughts of sabotage run though my head like fuzzy bunnies in a sunny meadow.

It reminded me of the cabby I met at the Cricket Cafe in PDX. His nerves had been fried from years of driving. He nearly lost everything. It was an awesome story, so I paid for his early AM special, which was about $3 too.

Finally after lots of steep hills and rough roads I made it to the capital and called Diedre, who is subletting Max's place. She's out for awhile so I have to wait, so I ring up Harper from the deadbabies. He and Kevin (aka Kirkland, like the Costco brand) are about to roll out for beer. Awesome.

In order to keep the drunks in the bars beer sales at stores are over at 10pm (so we buy a sixer each before we go to the bar). We drink for cheap, make nice with the ladies and run into spencer who always seems to have a polo mallet. We agree to polo tomorrow. diggity

Harper is a great host. I am stoked to have a room with a bed a place in the freezer to put the rest of this vodka. Tomorrow he tells me I can get some work making deliveries. Max told me of stories of drinking 40s in alleyways. Seems appropriate for working in a swamp of political corruption. Two job offers in my first 6 hours and Im not looking for work. This could be the antithesis of Stumptown.

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