Day 17. 1,074 Miles. The Headwind, The Hills and The Police.

Be kind and rewind to the top of this month when this little Wahoo Elmnt Bolt (who gives me nothing) bike computer arrives just days before I’m leaving. If they would give me shit I’d tell them that’s too many names for one thing. Seems to be a nice failsafe on missing turns. I’m interested in not having to stop to flip map pages or confirm my location with my phone. No way I’m abandoning my basic battery odometer and paper maps anytime soon; I recreate and load up the route as best I can in the last 48 hours I have laptop usage, hopeful it’ll be worth the hefty investment.

A connecting principle
Linked to the invisible
Almost imperceptible
Something inexpressible
Science insusceptible
Logic so inflexible
Causally connectable
Nothing is invincible

It’s early morning. The first time in a while I’ve woken up in the same space two days in a row. It’s hard leaving this awesome space. I imagine myself living here. I don’t think I would live in Richmond. It’s just the feeling of having a space that I miss. I know it’s not real. Home is where the hatred is. And living here is not realistic. I make coffee, make waste, make tracks. Downtown is quiet early and it is chilly, in the mid 40°s. Fahrenheit. Chills. Winds out of the north. Guess which way I’m headed?

Most days I think of other bike touring friends I ride long rides with. Many of the best conversations I’ve ever had are with those folks. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked to myself enough on this ride. Today my homie Damon is on my mentals. We’ve had some deeply intense chats along the trail. We’ve also talk about the dumbest shit. And everything in between. He has this technique of self climate control where he’d always have long pants and sleeves with short ankle socks. He cools himself at the ankles apparently. I have two pairs of ankle socks to go with my one pair of long and my one pair of whatever-the-really-short-that-you-can’t-even-see-in-the-shoe socks. So I’m giving it a shot. Right now. Like right now, right now. And… it ain’t working. I’ve got pants on. I’ve got my rain jacket on. And I’m cold leaving this historic ass city. Surrounded by ghosts. War ghosts.

Traffic is quite light and other than my internal temperature controls, it’s a pretty nice ride for not being the Cap Trail. Butt fuck I’m glacial. I stop and add my long sleeve, under my short sleeve, under my jacket. Quiet country roads morph into full on farm roads. Lots of small farms.

In Ashland I munch a peanut butter banana and trail mix fajita alongside a protein bar. It’s a combination unstaffed Amtrak station and town visitor center. Railroad history I can dig it. Quiet little secular town. That day I’m Richmond actually leaves me more gassed at 20 miles than I’ve been in days. Damon would argue against the day off for this reasoning. I walk in and am low key flirting with the retiree volunteer at the visitor center. She’s all reticent with her reciprocation of it, knowing she doesn’t need to come out from behind the booth to show me a map she knows I don’t need to read with her hands that don’t have a wedding ring on them. Her name is likely Pam. Maybe! Or is that Pamb? With a a b? Hello lovely lady. She must have a thing for captain cavemen, because with more than two weeks sans razor, I now resemble him. I’m pretty sure she started the whole thing two moves ago; instead of clubbing her over the head and dragging her alongside my bike, I just fill up my bottles and head out, hoping she’s not a billionaire looking for someone like me, because if so then I done just fucked the fuck up.

My headwind is gleefully joined by hills. Not the OG 90s department store, actually hills! Ain’t seen them much at all this trip. Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas coast is flat. Or at least it was when i rode through. Not turning back now. Nor never. Neh never. Hills can be fun, rolling along, using my gears and going from 5 to 25 mph.

Playlist variance in effect. The customer Slow Roll Boombotix speaker is recharged and blasting. Synchronicity is the full album experience. Du jour. This Wahoo Bolt (still not paying me) is fully charged too and it’s letting me know the robots have won. Did I mention that Damon is the one who called me clamoring over these machines, inspiring my immediate investment? For the first time all ride it’s telling me something more than turns. Oh, there’s a climb coming up? Thanks little buddy. R2. Johnny 5. It congratulates me as I “summit”. Cute.

The next hill though. Holy shit. “King of pain” is appropriately theme songing it up and Rosy The Robot tells me this is a 13% grade, when I can look down, at 2.5 mph. Otherwise I just hear beeps. I have to tell the police to the shut the fuck up, so I can hear traffic coming while I do the entire street wide serpentine-zig zag zig-slalom thing. I don’t wanna walk and I don’t wanna get hit by a car in a turn, infrequent as they are on these farm roads. The police should be able to, but cannot, save you from traffic. Many times someone hits a pedestrian or a bicyclist with their motor vehicle, they’re not even charged. If they kill someone, it’s never more than involuntary manslaughter. And no one goes to jail over traffic tickets. Maybe it’s irony, the only jail needed would be having the PRIVILEGE of operating that massive petro-powered death bomb revoked. Yoked. Yoksy-doked. People would lose their minds about not having their cars and likely get their shot together.

Theres not so much as a store in-route for 40-50 miles so I’m glad I got the all-bottle refill back in Ashland. Also. I am in favor of taking drivers licenses away for real. And regular re-testing fir all. As a New York State EMT basic, I have to recertify every three years. Dna we get once a decade for motor vehicle operation? I’m also quite pro-listening to The Police. I’m all wrapped around my own finger on it right now. Also, I listen to the other other police too. I won’t talk to them for free, but I will listen for free. I mean, if someone wants to pay me, I’ll take the money everytkme for listening to the police. Both versions in fact. Not like the psycho therapist listening though. Especially not for Sting. Just listening. The sarcasm dripping from my mind is rudely interrupted by handlebar Wall-E. Shit. Another 13%er? My legs get to communing.

A train breaks down right on my path. I wait for an hour. Then jog 1/2 mile to find out I can’t get around the back. Ride up the gravel path the other way. Guys working tell me “it’s gonna be a while”. Fuck. I keep up the gravel path and eventually, thankfully, can get around the train with little detour. The other plan adds 40 miles. Glad this one happens.

Sending out an SOS. I’m on climb 7 of the day. I didn’t know how to count climbs. Or measure grade. Until bike Dot Matrix comes along. Did we just become best friends?! My legs don’t know give a shit, they are screaming. Up into my hips and back. Real Pain. I’ve moved on to Regatta de Blanc and my body sings Deathwish. This day is reminded me of my first taste of Texas Hill Country back on the southern tier cross country with, of course, Damon. Let’s harness 1.21 jiggawatts and go back to 2021 right now. Or just get a taste of my deliriously exhausted self shouting at my bestie in the middle of nowhere.

By climb ten I’m dumb. Gassed. I’m done with The Police and go back to official Atlantic Coast long ride playlist. My phone is on do not disturb always and airplane mode most times. Unless I’m pulling up music or maps. I get a text.

My dude. Talk about synchronicity. I’ve got designs on several sneaky spots I can probably illegally camp for the night. That’s his thing, Damon calls it wild camping. Yet another term. I call him up, update him on the wahoo and everything. I check the forecast. He says “When the overnight temperature low and the motel room price are below 50 it’s no question for me”. That’s seals it. This Motel 6 is $48, that’s what I call leaving the light on for me. I book it. I also grab a burrito to go and head to the room. From the outside it’s a mess. From the inside, it’s better than plenty I’ve paid more for. After the day I have endured, there’s no capacity for complaint. And little capacity for being awake much longer.

About tonycaferro

Entrepreneur, Citizen, Marketeer, Fire Fighter / EMT, Bicycle-Tourist, Booking Agent, Youth Mentor, Activist, Agitator, Coffee Addict, Foodie, Social Media Nerd, Amateur Film Critic, Son, Brother, Uncle & Rust Belt Representative. Follow me on Twitter @dtr45
This entry was posted in bicycle touring. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day 17. 1,074 Miles. The Headwind, The Hills and The Police.

  1. David says:

    I heard Ashland is a really fun town in NC. Need to visit there some day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s