As they pass, each mile is unique in its impression. Different. Like that mile’s momma always told them they were special. There’s no easy miles. No easy days. Some are better than others. The outer banks provided timespace for better miles and easier days. 70 miles into Kitty Hawk with a tailwind is still hard work, go ask Wilbur and Orville. My arms and hands are sore. My sit bones. Neck feet. 70 miles with wind behind me is better than coming at me. The last few days I’ve refined my working with the wind Leine never before. Making the miles and hours easier in any way is the name of the game.
I am awake and up and out earlier than ever. I have no destination and there is not much in front of me in the way of camping, lodging or food. So nothing really. Green murk. There’s a 2 mile long bridge back onto the “mainland” about 4 miles ahead, and I want to crunch it before any sort of rush hour traffic. Plus I’ve been checking the winds and they will be whipping across and at me.
This bridge, the Wright Memorial Bridge — oh yeah, those guys — marks the end of the island portion of this program – with another 60 miles after it to reconnect with the main route into Richmond. My outer banks alternate ride is sunsetting as the sun is rising as I push lightly through quiet little wooded neighborhoods alongside marinas filled with yachts, bacon is the smell track and song birds still the soundtrack. I’m out here meeting people without a cause and being open and honest with them. It’s wonderful to do. My mind drifts into what’s really at the core of American humans being so mad at something or at each other all the time, usually for no good reason. This doesn’t happen in other nations, it’s clear by the way we treat each other and the way they treat each other. The real cause for really real. The Royal we has got the how what when where; we need the why. Here I am riding my bike and thinking about a guy a while back basically just mad at ethanol in gas, which I am not here to defend. Duh. More than one thing can be true at the same time people. So one group is mad that it’s a poor, low quality fuel. Another is mad because it’s expensive. Another, because it’s a fossil fuel-burning waste of precious life on our planet and… vvrrrrroooooom! A 70’s Ford pickup blows by me, spewing black smoke and stank all up into my face and lungs. This douchebag, he brings us closer in brain cell counts with this one action. Cough cough. Fuck you.
With debris all up in the shoulder, I pretty much have to take the lane or ride the line. Leaving Bodie Island, the last island hop, I gotta give a special shout out to Orkacoke for having no bridges and few vehicles. Wait a second, Bodie Island is actually a barrier peninsula you say? True indeed. But did you really look it up? I did. It used to be an island, until the inlet — near current day Nags Head — closed up. Ok, ok. You know what they say, “once an island, always an island.”
These miles kinda suck; it’s early though, so I go into my thoughts for a bit. Incomplete solutions have gotta play into the reason behind the omni-vitriol of our nation. America is fucked up and fucked. Pay attention, this is patriotic shit people. Half measures. A decline of actual exceptionalism. No more Will and Orv. For anything. Pick a card any card. The writing is on the wall. All the cliches! Education. Health. Debt. Manufacturing. Worse than Idiocracy, plenty of people are still capable, yet very few are desirous of even giving a shit. Take care of everything except the people as if one can live in a nation without living in it. Except, yes the profit motive. Greed is good, I guess Gordon. Let’s hope we can hold on to culture and civility, at the very least. Wait do I sound cynical?
Cutting north west I have a bit of a tailwind. It’s at my left with the gusts though. It’s hottern hell, I’m sweating it up. Miles pour on. A town named Coinjock has a store and water. There not much out in this neck of the woods yet there still are “OBX” signs and marketing everywhere; we’re 100miles away from Orcacoke. This ain’t Hatteras anymore Toto. Coming up in the back way, I don’t even feel like Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head were very much OBX to me — all this out here though, nah. Perception is reality.
It’s never an easy day. I’ll say it again. Short or long mileage. I bathe in icy hot. I eat ibuprofen like a fat kid eats cake. I’d eat cake like a fat lid if I had any. This day is ultra. Hot, like 88° F hot. Little to no cover. No clouds. Even less camping or even lodging options. Legit 40-50 miles between services. Nothing but dismal swamp. No games. Really, it’s called the Great Dismal Swamp. I’ve got enough swamp ass already, no need to add to it. I push more miles.
I find another gas station with a store after 30 more miles. I’m gassed. I need shade. The shaded side is occupied by a bumblebees nest, so I go inside. All they have is Gatorade. I don’t like it. Fuck it. Gimme it. Oh gas station fried chicken? Gimme it. Crush it. I sit inside and cool off. After a bit I look at my map. It’s still another 30-40 miles or so to anything. I could camp outside a fire station or really just anywhere not private property. I don’t know how I’m feeling about that. All this current swamp booty and all. So I’m like fuck that noise and dial up the motel in the next town 35 miles up. Actually I just book it online, I don’t dial shit. I now have what is known as A goal. A carrot on a stick and a hot shower and electricity and a bed. I push off, all excited, that’s when I see my ACA map has me cutting back down to get under the swampland. And um, no dirt roads for me google maps. RUH ROH.
The wind blows. No it really blows. Hard. This ain’t what I was led to believe by the Catholic Church to be a blowjob. And worst of all, it’s in my face. Cruelest of maneuvers is having to get back on 17, going SOUTH (southwest actually) into a 14 mph wind from the southwest. After about one horrifying mile I turn slightly off — still into the headwind on US 158. This might be worse. One lane in each direction. 3 inches of shoulder, littered with debris. Into this wind. I’ve got 6 miles of this, none of those miles is very enjoyable.
I’ve turned north. This is a good mile, as I cross the Virginia line. Tailwind central. My body aches and is tired of being in the saddle; I’ve got my north start. Literally. I stay on the busier road to avoid micro cutbacks into any sort of wind.
After mile 90, I black out. On autopilot. Even the wind can’t help me. My brain shuts down in part survival mode, part zen state. I cut across town, skirting most Friday traffic, I think. I have no idea and get tangled up in a highway exchange And overpass. A mile later and not only is the hotel just great, it’s on the other side of the parking lot from the Food Lion. Good last mile. Long day. I take a wonderfully delightful shower, the kind from which those women in the 90’s TV commercials would orgasm. I get some vegan ice cream to celebrate — it’s what Damon would do on long pushes that end in a room. I do some sock, underwear and glove laundry in the motel sink — there’s 5 states worth of sand, hairs and dirt in there. I hit that bed. You know what it is.
The rain should be a problem today? And traffic- more fun reading than doing
Didn’t get much rain at all.