It’s a start at the end kinda feel today. 94 miles. 2,700 feet in elevation gain. Fully loaded 100 pounds of bike and gear. I know there’s nerds out there who get all riled up about riding their carbon fiber four ounce bikes 100 miles on mostly flat terrain. Yeah bro! Century! Like that arbitrary number, one hundred miles, means anything. Imperialists. All this weight and all these hills likely make my 94 miles the equivalent 500 for them and they’d be at home watching race cars on TV. Regardless. Comparisons are futile. Except the one comparing my entire body before and after all these miles, all this weight, all this climbing, all this everything. It’s actually over now and I’m sitting in Abany. Before. After. Struggling to type words into a phone. My fingers are probably swollen and too fat, the same fate Homer Simpson once suffered. Inside a roof and four walls, I’m about to break the fourth wall. About to pass the fuck out. I don’t know if I can even walk. Nope I can’t. I’m like a saddle sore Moses. I think there’s food on the way. So I just sit. A hungry Buddha. Maybe I can make it. Maybe not. A tattooed Muhammad. I cant go forward, i cant go backward. I can’t write as much as I’d like. Writer’s-blocked Joseph Smith. Lots of riding. Not so much writing. Hey at least I am most certainly not dead yet. Zombie Jesus. Maybe Spirit of Rick James is my religion. I must be exhausted to be saying this. Theres two commandments. 1) god is love 2) nobody pays taxes. Makes sense. And cents. Fuck though. What imma do about my legs, Eddie Murphy? Praise be. Let’s get to the getting of how i got here in the first place.
Oh my oh my oh my. Headache galore this morning. I am dehydrated. Like a motherfucker. Mother fucking Nature is drying me out like the dried fruits I’ve been snacking on. Its really my fault. I ate enough, but I guess I didn’t keep up with the watering. I shake the cobwebs amidst morning drizzle on the Big Agnes, who doesn’t pay me. We’ve got water and a picnic table and some time and so I fire up the jetboil for an exquisite campground coffee. I consider this a clutch maneuver. It ironically will cure my dehydration right? Ha. Not likely. Not irony either, yet the facts remains that a coffee addict, am I. Young padawan. Bones called me “Cafe” back in the academy for a reason. Some timespace later and we’re back on the trail. Destination Albany. Kara comes up on some trail magic and her home girl Mary is hooking up the indoor living. Showers. And laundry. Oh shit. Fancy huh? It’s a long haul but we think we can make it, incorrectly pegging it at about 80 miles. Ooommpf. We definitely peg ourselves with that one, right in the saddle-sore pooper.
Right now right now, just three or four miles in. Settling in. Trails are closed and we do our best to ignore the detour and simply adventure through it. Despite his staunch veganism, Damon is a pig in shit, he lives for long days and adventurous and difficult situations. I suppose i do too in some ways and also love eating bacon and ham. With coffee. There’s some light precipitation from the skies and some heavy precipitation from my bladder — I’m giving back all the water I chugged, literally peeing off the side of the bike. I see toilets everywhere. I pound an entire 750 ml at once to help remedy. A drop in temp and the light mist means it’s finally cooled off a bit, with ample cloud cover. That helps. I kinda like the mist too. I like my early morning mist like I like my women, super fine and perfectly cooling. Not too bad so far.
Ah shit. I had to open my dumb mouth and say something, didnt I?! We roll into Kingston. Lord have mercy, the skies open up. What the blood clot! More rain and more rain. If you see something say something has made everyone a snitch and so I’m saying something. I see buckets come down. Soaking situation. Rain runners. We pull out of it and hit a diner, checking the radar. Classic little spot with exactly 5,000 menu items. Booths. Eggs. Yum. We all drink even more coffee and dehydration levels are going up. Up. Up.
We sneak out after an hour and the first five minutes are great. Then yeah, more rain. I’m pretty wet now. The trail runs out but the rain intensifies. Back on the road with this downpour? No me gu —-fuckin car almost a clips me! What the fuck asshole. He’s in a hurry to get to the next red light i guess. This sucks. No sir I don’t like. Crossing the Hudson out of Kingston is one of the most precarious bike tour feats I think I have pulled off to day. It’s especially fun when construction signs next to orange cones in the bike lane squeeze me out into traffic on a bridge in the pouring rain. I skirt out, grab the cone and drop it behind the sign, making more room for Kara and Damon somewhere behind me. I’m another second I’m taking the lane because of the signs this construction predicted. Comes constrict both lanes to minimal skinny. Did I mention it’s Monday lunchtime traffic? 80 mph traffics now moves at 8 mph behind me, in the middle of the lane. Fuck it and fuck you. Rain dumps on me from above as i make my way over the waters of the Hudson below. Never mind the debris everywhere and the hydroplaning water running alongside it all. This one was not for the faint of heart.
After crossing the Hudson for the second time this ride, we’re now in non rail grade territory. Which in normal English means hills. And these hills are really hills. These hills have hills and those hills have hills. Up down up down. This ain’t a code to Contra. The earth apparently is not flat, tell a friend or a frenemy or an enemy. I’m a momentum junkie and this shit ain’t no game. I take the downhills in my third ring and shift all the way down to one and then back up and then up and so on and so on. On and on. Yay! At first.
After 20 more miles in now sun filled skies I’m feeling it. Rubber legged. I hit 41mph and Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” is on the playlist on my way back up when the combination of enduring the pain and ignoring the pain does me in and I black the fuck out. “Watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical, liberal, oh fanatical, criminal.” Like my mind takes over and is no longer concerned with joyful musings or intellectual awakening or deep thoughts of any sort. Not even more the basic thinking’s. Only the critical parts of my brain are turned on. No recollection of another 40 miles. Straight autopilot, basically. I can’t feel. Numb. That’s pretty much all I know. Golden hour glimpses of chasing the sun. Flashbacks of riding in the darkness along the Hudson. All muddled with pain. Pain in my ass. In my knees. My elbows. Knees. I definitely can’t feel that headache anymore.
“I know it sounds absurd, please tell me who I am”.
It’s fuzzy as I drag my ass over the Hudson for the third time. We’ve made it into Albany, my iPhone cameras makes it seems like there’s more daylight than there really is. Thanks a lot for causing me to misrepresent myself, ghost of Steve Jobs.
My body is shuts down altogether and my mind is simply takes over. Lizard brain. Prefrontal cortex, I think. Maybe the amygdala. I don’t know. I couldn’t remember if I did know. The last mile shows itself to me crystal clear. Night has fallen as we navigate the Capital city, eager for shelter and showers. We arrive and unload, smelling like death. Mary is super cool and an amazing hostess. She’s got hilarious phrasing and manners of speech. Telling a story about a coworker at her job, one in particular stands out: “I pissed in that bitches Cheerios one too many times”. Mary is definitely Buffalo as fuck, and if you don’t understand the references you better ask someone. We partake in intense hygienic activity before feasting and chatting and I soon pass out ass out on the couch.