For the naysayers and the haters who say time travel isn’t real, including myself, I say this: explain away how Damon and I both utilized the nutrition of oatmeal and peanut butter to pedal one hour into the future this morning. I septuple dog dare you.
I wake up in this funky little ghost town motel. The gas station coffee smells like yeast infected vagina and tastes like burnt water. The internet connection intermittently comes and goes, which means I’ve had to write this twice. The cell service is thin, and despite being 20 miles from the county-based time zone changeover, my watch has already decided to display central time. Damon’s phone too. Strange. I wonder what the 438 locals living here do to mitigate that sort of confusion. Maybe they don’t even use cell phones. All things considered, at this point, I’m enjoying it all. The stank coffee, the confusion over time zones, all of it. What I don’t enjoy is the way my body feels. I am at level eight soreness. Like head to toe. We are really pushing it. My legs hurt in the mornings and evenings. My shoulders and arms and neck during the day. My hands go numb daily. Saddle sore sucks the same. I imagine I’m still another week away from breaking into fully loaded long day ride status; Damon says he is ready to do a century today.
Cruising out of town, we use the first 20 miles to psyche ourselves up about whatever the next sign of civilation might have to offer. It becomes a regular occurrence on a cross country bike ride. I wanna be nice to the next town, so let’s say that it’s now considered “far from anything” instead of “nothing”. We pretend that some intersection of some small town happens to have a store or something and it’s gonna feel like the Burj Khalifa when we get there. I’m saying to Damon, “Van Horn is gonna be jumping on a Saturday, you watch!”
We rock a short 10 mile stint back on I-10 before gratefully ridding ourself of that demon and take the exit for Van Horn Texas, population 2,063. They exist because some time ago a drinking water well was discovered, presumably by NBA player Keith Van Horn. Hydration is apparently an important thing out here. Thanks for the tip, cowboys.
For me, the most monumental features of the town are: 1) drinking water, 2) proper coffee, 3) this right turn. Onto road 90. I don’t know if it’s federal or state, but it’s our last turn in some 350 miles or so. Yeah, fun.
There is not much happening on road 90 right now. Or probably ever. If I’m counting, I’ll exaggerate and say I can see ten straight miles up the road most of the time. I can definitely see a miniature version of Damon two or three miles ahead of me. It gets lonely and boring very quickly, and this is only say one on it. The 15 mph head wind, 30 mph gusts and blowing dust are the major attractions at the theme park that is my life right now. Other things keeping me company include bends in the road, inclines and declines. Electric poles. The occasional automobile or automobile part. An empty railroad track on my left. And my thoughts. Lots of em. Too much coffee and not enough water? I think dehydration might be fucking with my brain. Fuck. Other than the wind, it is so fucking quiet… until I start blasting Blackalicious, Blondie and The Black Keys.
A few miles up, like whoa. A rest stop. No water or bathroom. But shelter and picnic tables. I needed a picnic table nap. Hadn’t had one yet this tour. Thanks so much. Five minutes of solid rest and an impromptu border patrol party breaks out. Turning up what I think might be a Friday or Saturday in Texas! Someone, support the troops and make this a real thing.
Reunited at the rest stop, Damon and I share another three or four hours on 90, when the broadcast of our volleying discussion on the various operational models currently employed by hip hop artists is interrupted to bring us a train coming towards us. Impetus! Impulse! Stimulation! It makes my shoulders hurt less because natural chemicals are happening in my brain! The conductor senses our excitement, toots the horn and I’m as giddy as a third grader at recess! Too much fun.
A couple more hours down the long line and the roof of this whole excitement shit blows off the top when a Prada appears almost out of thin air. Bags and shoes? Seriously what the fuck is going on. Was there peyote in that dust cloud I rolled through? Nope. This shit is real. It’s basically a monolith. There’s no water but there is an amateur photo shoot happening. I guess I had been asking for some sort of strange brain stimuli all day and I get my what I wished for. I noir the shit out of it for maximum effect.
Just past the Prada, we get the real bourgeois treatment from RV Park proprietors Smokey and Manny. $10 gets us water and electric and a place to camp. While Manny shows me the water hookups that are open, Smokey informs Damon that breakfast of coffee, bacon and eggs is available tomorrow for $8. My vegan friend respectfully declines, but I indicate the affirmative by conveying that that coffee, bacon and eggs is actually the real holy trinity. Yes, please.
I pop up the penthouse as the wind dies down. Later a cute dog comes by. Yes! No! The dog pees on my tent. I fear this could be a trending topic in the dog twitterverse, so I clean it off with water and some good old New York Clean sanitizer. Commie Empire State bastards. Manny brings us a couple chairs and a light and we’re set up to hang out right on the same street we’ll be riding on for the entire week. I can see automobiles five minutes before I hear them, I hear them one full minute before they actually pass by. We are living large over peanut butter and banana burritos. It’s a wild night up here in Valentine, Texas.