Where does the phrase “dropping Ike flies” come from? I’ve heard how “mind your p’s and q’s” came about: pub patrons who had had a few too many would have their attention drawn to a board or ledger that communicated how many pints and/or quarts they had consumed. The barkeep would then presumably tell the drunk bastard “mind your pints and quarts”, or something to that effect. But dropping like flies? Help me out here.
Damon and Chad are heading home – and just like that our crew is cut in half. (Not counting FH, of course). They’re packing up and hopping on the train to a Philly. Both have real world things happening and were also slightly undergeared. I’m super proud of both of them getting 600 miles in on there first journey out.
Their departure was set yesterday, which prompted the hotel celebration the night before. Which also prompted polishing off the cheap bourbon we’d been toting around. Which also prompted a sluggish and late morning. Per protocol, I’m up first. I’ve already taken a shit and kicked back a single serve cup of coffee that I brewed in the hotel bathroom. NOTE:this story might not be told in chronological order. Once everyone else is up, I make them each a cup too. We pack up and Daniel and I hug it out (remember when people hugged?!?) and say adios to our amigos slash tour apprentices.
Five miles in and Daniel both feel the pain. Not the pain being brought by Method Man. The pain of sore legs from hills on hills on hills. The pain from all that Evan Williams the night before. The pain of of losing our pals. Hippies would call this a total drag, man. And we are sho nuff dragging. We push through Valley Forge with zero historical interest and then are pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
West bumfuck…. Nothing but farm.
We ride for miles looking for a gas station or a store or something or a park with a tree to sit under. We finally find a gas station. It actually only sells gas. Nothing else. We’ve got 40 miles in and it’s dumb hot again and we just need some public shade. We find a barbecue spot. Score. Fuck, it’s closed on Tuesday. Who knew it was Tuesday? We hang under their covered picnic area anyway. Because we’re pooped and because it’s got a water spigot and an outlet. Picnic tables naps commence.
I wake of first, per protocol. A storm rolls through. I’m glad to still be under this shelter. I munch a protein bar and make some coffee. Daniel and I chat a bit about the difficulties of the day. Just yesterday we were talking about how compact and together the group was. How the two newbies were keeping up ya vets and how we were all on the same time schedule and pace. And how difficult that is to normally find and line up. It was pretty amazing. That didn’t hold up much longer though. Maybe we jinxed it. But I miss my friends already. I miss the social energy we gave to each other. We take some absentee jabs like “who’s gonna do our laundry now that Chad is gone” or “where will we find another water bit without Damon.” Then we joke about finding someone else to ride with us so they can do all that stuff. Eventually, the humor rolls back to revolve around normal joking when Daniel drops a gem: “Your pants say yoga but your ass says McDonald’s.” We feel better and push on.
More miles and more pain. Daniel says his bicycle just doesn’t want to go. I’m feeling ok but not too inspired. I haven’t even played any music all day. Just pushing on and pushing on. Rolling hills. Rush hour traffic whizzing past is at 70mph and we only have a one foot shoulder. Too many trucks. Too many of them brushing by us at about 3 inches instead of 3 feet. Fuck, where’s my pool noodle? We literally pull off into someone’s yard just to let the traffic die down. They want to be in a hurry. We want to live.
At some point we realize we have two different versions of the Adventure Cycling’s Atlantic Coast Section 3 route. I found a used printed version and the bought the phone app versión. We’ve following mine because it’s easier to navigate. Mines a few years older. They must have changed it. We don’t know why. Since they will rejoin in a couple days we stick to mine, but I can’t help but wonder what prompted the complete overhaul of the 120 miles of the route.
We ride until sunset, moving about 7 mph. We’ve once again got nowhere to legally camp so we come up to a covered picnic table in a tiny little town. This is it. We hang a bit here. There’s a working water fountain and an outlet. Dusk hits and we hit the tree line. Set up and pass out.