Day 19. 1,168 Miles. That Fleeting, Upside-Down Life.

When a man moves away from nature, his heart becomes hard. ~Lakota Proverb

There are multiple moments over the last few days when I’m feeling joyous about finishing strong. My feels are victorious in nature. Triumphant ‘tude. Even committing to finally sharing the playlist (intended to be played on shuffle — but do-you, boo.) Trying to not get too excited as there’s always miles to go — we all fall over our own feet running downhill so often, why not not jinx myself and not fumble two yards from the end zone, Leon Lett? I intend to write mainly about the mentality surrounding “knocking it out of the park”. A winning mindset is all up in these web pages since the start — get a late pass. Instead, I’ll simply assess this long ride’s initial goals and focus on my current mindset.

1) Connection of my map of long rides from Jacksonville to DC, collectively creating a crow (check the verb form!) that I’ve rode 85% of the US Atlantic Coast from the conch republic to Bah Hahbuh. And I actually have. And… Yes I’m this nerdy about maps, and I have 5th grade geometry bee credits to show for it. Only NYC to Boston remains. You better ask somebody, map boi.

Number 1 goal… CHECK

2) The Outer Banks…. Wasn’t sure if I’d have time to take the longer and obviously much better alternate. If you need to, scroll back a week ago, Mork.

Number 2… CHECK

3) Time to experience Richmond. Just a couple days from DC, I figured that only if I were behind schedule would this one not happen. Had the time, skipped some cold with it too. dope apartment.

Number 3… CHECK

Extra credit: Savannah. Never spent much time. Heard about. Want to see. In all honesty I didn’t foresee making time so early in the ride. Hard to commit to a day off on day 3 when those first three goals could be affected. Figured I might cruise rugby through (Charleston’s fate this ride); I had to fucking injure myself enough to warrant me to take it. Feeling fine now in that regard, and enjoy the shit out of the time I have there… and still make it with enough time to hit the first 3 checks? I’m calling it a win-win-win-win-win-win-win… once I’m actually on this train. Seven XL, the gods live well.

With all that out of the way, let’s go back. (Or forward? The timelines are as confusing as the Marvel universe!) Back to the smell of coffee at 5am. G is fa sho part of the early-in-the-morning crew. Gap Band. My ankles and knees ache so badly that I don’t get up off the guest cot set up in the living room straight away. As I usually do. When I’m up, I’m up. Not today. I lay there. Once I do get activated, it’s a quick up and out as my hosts have busy days today. I thank them and insist they come up north for summer and I hit the four mile run trail, back down to the Mount Vernon trail and up over the Arlington memorial bridge — and like that (Kaiser soze “gone” blow), I’m in the 51st State: Columbia. Wait. Nope, that still ain’t happen yet; legitimate taxation without representation right here in the good old estados unidos? I’m looking at you too, Puerto Rico, Guam, VI, etc, etc… if only you were whiter the old white guys would probably give you your props and representation. Fucking 4 senators from Dakota? Fuck that.

Realigning priorities for my mind and body. Crossing the Potomac River, I reflect on how dehydrated I am. Coffee has been cut way back. Water intake is way up. It just goes right through me. I’m always thirsty. And always looking for a spot to pee. I’m ashier than Ashy Larry. I’m rich bitch! Shoutout to Donnell Rawlings, saw him live in Copenhagen with Ali Wong, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle last year. Still funny. Probably better hydrated than me too. Now on National Park Service territory, i spy a water fountain across the way. I pay my taxes, so I chug my last full bottle and head over to take my share.

Sitting here on the Lincoln Memorial steps, I realize it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been back here. Like probably a little kid kinda while. I’ve biked in and out of DC regularly the last 3 years, yet without this sort of free unstructured time. I poorly manifest some rudimentary National mall sketches. George Washington’s rock hard penis erects in the distance. I eavesdrop on the 3rd graders field trip tour guide. Listening in and learning. Anyone can teach me anything. I’ll take it. I may not want nor need it afterward, but I prefer intake of all and then discerning that part on my way own. It works. Now I know about all sorts of happenings in 1922 that I previously did not. Too bad you weren’t there for it. You could be smarter too now. Shoutout to the old school UNE crew: university never ending. Find you a teacher.

Feeling a sense of calm and fulfillment, I’ve shed some non-serving biases and recharged my peopling battery. I like being around them again. I have a ticket for me, myself and I and the Raleigh sojourn on the Amtrak capital limited 29, destination Cleveland — hitting the slow roll summit and opening rides weekend. The bike ticket is $20. Pool Noodle Petra again rides for free, as she should.

All the DC federale tourism stuff is happening on this sunny day. Like my man Al B Sure — in effect mode. I still have a crush on Dawn from En Vogue. Lincoln’s four score speech is good, yet have you read the transcript of his second term inaugural address? Powerful stuff as he questions divine will and addresses a nation that has just collectively suffered so much death and destruction. General Dwight D. Eisenhower doesn’t get his mug on a greenback (or a giant statue) though his second term inaugural address is inscribed on a rock over here in this small park. At least his name is on it. Solid. Though I doubt his farewell speech — probably the realest shit to come out out of any modern president’s mouth — is in stone anywhere around here. Scathing. I like very few presidents, but I like Ike. A general in charge usually means we fight as a last resort, they know the real horrors of war. I’m in favor of only those with at least four years military service being eligible to serve as president, in congress or on the Supreme Court, and that’s the triple truth Ruth. Ike’s speech was “a solemn moment in a decidedly unsolemn time”, warning a nation “giddy with prosperity, infatuated with youth and glamour, and aiming increasingly for the easy life.

Prophetic AF my dude:

As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Despite his military background and being the only general to be elected president in the 20th century, he warned the nation with regard to the corrupting influence of what he describes as the “military-industrial complex“.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

After a few miles a noodling around the Capital’s many bike lanes, I grab the bomb ass afternoon breakfast and coffee at a spot called Busboys and Poets. $4.25 free refills is the actually deal if — like me — you’re on your fourth coffee. The dollar cup of coffee exists!! This place has almost everything I’m into. I almost buy a book inside. I don’t. Instead I just chill and meditate on the last few weeks. I’ve hit that point where 70 fully loaded miles is normal. Hypernormalization of the abnormal. There’s no other means to reach this point. Upside-down life. Outside. Under my own power. Traveling, man.

Living that upside down life is so real. I can’t recreate it any other way, or believe you me, I would. It is a vibe. Especially as I’m actually bent over, head below heart in the sun in a quiet weirdly placed DC city park. Stretching those godless commie legs of mine. Union break. This park is all concrete and separate from the nearby commotion. I have it to myself for much of an hour, killing time, right now. I’m looking at my bike upside down. It’s called upside down bike yoga I think. A white haired white couple approaches. Whoo. White walkers. Definitely named Walter and Mabel. Walter sees me, I’m making eye contact with him right now as I’m stretching. He’s clearly uncomfortable. I love it. Eye contact. Bent over upside down through my legs, past my bike while typing in my phone and doing the guided-meditation thing. No hipster has made a name for all this yet. Yet. Walt grabs Mabel’s hand and turns back. Ha. Yes. Upside down life. Maybe. Definitely. He probably smelled me. What few miles I have today, the stink is collective. My appearance screams “I’ve been living outside… alive”. It’s understandably uncomfortable for the uninitiated. Under his eye.

The last few miles from the park the Union Station DC are a right on independence and a left on 1st to union station. All that has a nice ring. Right on, independence!! Jump cut. Jump cut. Dissolve. All aboard. Takin’ the train, takin’ the train…

Admittedly, this 29 train follows the C&O/GAP trail from DC to Pittsburgh nearly identically. If there were enough time I’d be on it for the third straight year. No motorized traffic for 330 miles. It’s a lot less fun on Amtrak — hey at least I’m still technically “riding” and not “driving” as we pass through Cumberland, the handoff between the two trails. I eat my last remaining banana, with what’s left of my peanut butter. I drink coffee at 8pm. Literally this train moves so slow at times I could probably get out and ride faster. I want to; not gonna. Happy to sit and think.

I arrive into Cleveland an hour behind schedule. Like 4am. It’s dark. Birds are chirping. I disembark, collect the bike and pack up. It’s not too cold and it’s quiet on the streets of downtown 216. No rivers are on fire. I get a few more miles and check into my apartment for the next two evenings, knowing full well the feeling I’m feeling is fleeting. It won’t last even days after I stop riding. Until the next one, I suppose.

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth” ~Thoreau

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
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1 Response to Day 19. 1,168 Miles. That Fleeting, Upside-Down Life.

  1. Bob says:

    Good trip Tony. You’ve inspired me to put air in the tires. When I kept a journal, it was filled with wx info, talked a little about trees, animals, and people I met- you are a philosopher by comparison

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