Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think every thing you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.
“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” At some point every ride ride will end, and for some people that point is sooner or later on the timespace continuum.
Sitting poolside in a hotel in Central New York, I’m really not very motivated to write. More freedom rider than freedom writer. Really more cooling off my swollen sections than anything. Damn it feels good. Want it. Need it. Gotta have it. I wouldn’t expect much clever wordplay or even a punny time travel reference.
Waking up on the shores of the Mohawk River, I definitely sleep better than I have in weeks. A crisp cool night with the fly off means I’m still wrapped up on my more than adequate sleeping bag. I’ve got pants and my jacket on when I emerge, the first one up as yoozsh. It is a chilly sunny morning and I fire up the jetboil coffee, suspecting it might be a while before anyone else rises. All the flies are up so everyone is cozy warm and snoring. I’m sipping coffee and it’s good. I am Jack’s every rising caffeine addict. One by one the crew animates, all in decent spirits. The lack of water here at this non-actual-campsite means we’re thirty, unshowered and relegated to the want portable plastic toilet box. I consider a dip in the river but I’m not sure it swimmable. The survival rate on me not getting into some sort of body of water is running low. I got a threshold, Jules. I got a threshold for the abuse I’ll take… I’m just saying that it’s fuckin’ dangerous to have a racecar in the fuckin’ red. We do our morning thang, pack up and move out.
Five miles in and a detour seems quite ignorable. Amato every detour off the Canal trail equals a climb up a hill. We’re stopped, pondering when someone comes riding towards us. In unison we all think out loud, “maybe this guy can tell us?”. Nope. My man on an unloaded bmx just cruises by the four of us, jaws open and eyes up, clearly looking like we have a question. He gives a simple wave and rolls past us. He’s got music jamming in his ears and is probably thinking “ain’t nobody got time for that”. Fucker. He looks like his parent named him Mackenzie — Earbuds Mackenzie, and he couldn’t give a shit about our inquiries. We roll the dice and ignoring the detour proves to be the right move, no help to that jabroni Mackenzie.
Eight miles up and a quick 10 minute stop has turned into a full on truck stop pit stop. We’re considering the showers and the TA, currently sitting in the back corner of a McDonald’s. Wifi and water and outlets and outsourced global capitalism. They do have solid coffee though. Whoever they is. It ain’t McDonald. Or MacKenzie. Damon has predictably gone on to Dunkin Donuts. Chad is out front napping in the sun. Kara is marveling at how delicious the biscuits are. I hit the bath room for a 2nd movement. It’s a small symphony. Clean in here. The toilet paper could double as sandpaper.
I scramble and give the two minute warning on rollout when Chad’s survival rate drops to zero. Today is the sort of day where the sun comes up to humiliate you. Chad is still feeling like shit. Non Covid chill fevers have him feeling like it’s better to bail. I can tell it’s serious and he’s not gonna make it. He’s gonna head back to Amsterdam and jump on the next Amtrak home. I hit him with a banana and some ibuprofen and we all send him off with love. Like that our bike club is now just three once more.
The next 35 miles are tough. The sun has come back out. Losing our comrade takes it’s me taking toll. we grind out climbs and detours and keep on keepin on. Push push push. Finally we are just to beat to make the next down up and we take a break trail a side. Kara pops up her chair, a lay on this mold and loss covered picnic table. Damon puts his life on the line and lays on the trail.
After half an hour, we’re greeted by a solo trail rider. It’s Ethan! Ethan owns Campus Wheelworks, a bike shop in Buffalo. Super knowledgeable and friendly, Ethan is out for the first time cooking his way across the state solo with nothing but an underseat back and his credit card. Like high speed cruising. He’s clearly been alone for a while because he has got that solo bike tour energy. 70 miles in already, he’s trying to get to Albany today, which would mean about 140 on the day. He has had it with locks. He’s also had enough with stone trails. He was originally going all the way to NYC but I suspect Albany might be it for him, despite getting a hot shower and a king size hotel bed every night. Kara and I know him from frequenting the bike shop. Turns out Damon and Ethan sort of know each other from way back in childhood Jamestown New York. Ethan’s dad was Damon’s math teacher. Wow. On a long enough timeline, we all know each other. We hang for a bit longer and then cruise on in our opposite directions, feeling encouraged at the coincidental trail mingling.
After a break stop by grub in Little Falls, we gear up for rain as the skies and forecast seem to predict an upcoming shower. And not the type we really need. Fate it seems is not without a sense of irony. Raincoats on and we’re making our next push to Utica.
66 miles in and Kara is calling Damon “Papa”. “Daddy” would probably be weird. He springs for a hotel room in Utica. Good ole Damon Warbucks. We all are wiped and there’s aren’t many good options. So this option it is. This option has a shower. A pool. Laundry. Coffee and tea in the lobby. Breakfast tomorrow. My writings survivability has dropped to zero. And now I’m in that pool, cooling off my parts. I’m in the shower. I’m doing laundry. I’m eating. I am not writing. It’s been a long hard few days and we are surviving. So. Go and do something. Goodnight.