And it’s all right, baby it’s all right
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right
I think last night’s bed was way too soft, because my back and hips ache as I awaken. Blue Skies?!?! I’m up and out pretty early, passing up microwaved coffee (never that!) for a diner stop about 8 miles up. I fuel up heavy on bacon, eggs, home fries and toast. I have no planned destination for the day, just to get as many miles as I can and then pop up the palace in a discreet spot. 20 miles later and I’m at the Ohio/Pennsylvania border; trading Route 20 for Route 5. Route fucking five! I grew up on Route 5, directly across from the behemoth of wasted space that used to be the Bethlehem Lackawanna Steel Plant. Those jobs left for Florida and Arizona and then overseas long ago and the vast amount of earth is now being wastefully pieced apart. Growing up, Route 5 was my childhood boundary line – I couldn’t wander further than that. It contained my world into both physical and psychological boxes. Now Route 5 is my direct line home. Just beyond, I get a glimpse of the mighty Lake Erie on my left… inspired by such hometown sights, I hit it harder than I’ve ever hit anything (I’m a lover not a fighter). I’ve got sunshine and clear skies, a full tank of fuel, and a TAILWIND!50 miles in before noon when I arrive into Erie, PA. My belly is still full from breakfast, but the smell of hops leads me to Lavery Brewery where an Imperial Red Ale serves as the perfect lunch, giving me even more energy. The 8.2% ABV is like fuel additive in the tank. Fantastic place. Afterward, I chill out on a park bench, feeling all the feels and thinking about how my best bitch Isis got shotgun. I find a construction site portable toilet and I get back on the road.
Between the inspired feelings and the wide shoulder and the tailwind, I find myself ripping through the landscape. My cruising speed is literally 19 mph… I mean I’m not even breaking a sweat at that speed. When I’m pushing, I’m closer to 25 mph. With each passing moment I become more and more familiar with my surroundings. I bust the Empire State line and can feel the tax increase. The county signs start to look more familiar. My mid afternoon, I need a little protein and some water, so I stop by the visitor center at the Barcelona Lighthouse, the first lighthouse in the world to be powered by natural gas. One could say it’s been gaslighting us all since 1829. Stepping inside, I can see the three ladies working in there are taken aback by something about me: my tattoos? my smell? I don’t know, but they don’t like me. When I ask for a restroom, the point me down to the harbor – a long winding downhill. Meh. I literally just don’t want to piss on the tree outside with all the tourists poking around outside. Plus the wind means I might piss on myself.
For fear of being rejected twice, I fill my water bottle without asking, chug, and then do it again. Then the topic of my long bike ride comes out, and they ease back a bit. They ask me to sign the guestlist. They ask me where I live. One of the women lived in Buffalo her whole life and she moved down here just under a decade ago. A really nice lady, she’s going on and on about how so much is going on in Buffalo since her and her husband sold their Parkside home. She wants to take a week or two and go up there to do all the cool things her girlfriends are talking about, “Let’s see… Larkinville, and… Hotel Henry, and… oh yeah… Slow Roll, we’ve gotta do the Slow Roll!” Ding ding ding! Me: “I’m the founder of Slow Roll”. Her: “Really?! Wow! It’s all I hear about, I want to do one so badly, but I have so many questions.” I give her all the answers she can handle. Before I know it, the restroom in the next room becomes available to me. “We’re not gonna make you go all the way down there.” I thank them and promise not to make a mess. Thank you, community bike ride for warming hearts and minds and getting me an indoor toilet and sink on windy day.
Around Dunkirk I start pondering sleeping locations. Maybe the city park there. Maybe behind the Firemen’s association building in Silver Creek. The familiarity of these places make this whole process less of a concern – so instead, I just keep riding. Same tailwind, same weather, same speed. Eventually, I realize I’m only 40 miles from home! My own bed? Fuck it, lets go!!!
I roll up into Silver Creek and suddenly the skies in front of me are ominous AF. Dark clouds gotta mean something. But Buffalo is forecast to be sunny all day. What the fuck? I’m moving through Seneca Nation territory (I still haven’t figured out why they’ve embraced the misnomer “Indian” so much. I mean if you’re ok with being incorrectly labeled by historically inaccurate white men, why not go all in and use the word “Injun”?) Seriously though, In the last 1,400 miles I’ve crossed the Trail of Tears and passed enough Andrew Jackson (fuck that cracker ass cracker) dedicated-locations on this trip to freely state that we should Honor Indian Treaties and all go back to that way of life. The world would be way less fucked. Anyway, the skies open up and it dumps rain on me. Gimme a break, Nell Carter – who did the motherfuckin’ rain dance? I lose the tailwinds, I lose the sunshine, but I don’t lose the motivation. I push on and at Evans, the rain stops, the sun comes back out, and the roads here are dry. So I guess it only rains on Native American Land. Someone blame Obama.
Evans, Angola, Derby, Lakeview, Wanakah. My energy is depleted, my legs are noodles, but the familiarity of these places keeps me moving forward. I turn the corner and see the skyline across the lake, right across from where I went to high school.
I push on, the sun is setting, but I get the 140 daily miles needed to reach my memory foam mattress. At which point I black out on the entire world into the best sleep of my life, at least until the next one.