Not Newlyweds

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I go into a tuck, stretched out over my extension bars trying to keep myself secret from the wind. Then, it catches up to me and pushes me upright. I make the noise Homer Simpson makes and I think of what I said sitting on Bill and Louise’s porch drinking a pepsi. 58 miles and no gasbar, no country store, no nothing. Then I copped a Pepsi from Bill and Louise. I actually walked up to them because they were outside sitting on their porch and I needed water. Louise filled my water bottle and brought me a Pepsi. And we talked awhile until Louise noticed my bike.
“Why did you leave your bike way over there?” Louise asked.
My bike was leaning against a stop sign down the road a bit.
“We needed some space,” I said.
They laughed. But it’s true, we are not exactly newlyweds. The wind forces me to use the gearing I usually use for a gradual hill. I want to blame it on the bike. I’ve had two flats the last two days and only made 40 mile days. I want to blame it on the bike. I’ve got a squeak in the seat post. The hand grips are slipping. Our relationship is being tested. She’s steadfast and true. The only girl for me. But we could use a little space.

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Patron Saints

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Every time I pass a cheap hotel I feel regret. I think of the weird beds, single shots of shampoo, loud neighbors and bad cable with affection because I can be warm and dry. Right now I feel no regret. I am in the Strathroy Motor Inn drying my socks and my shoes and my hammock. Charging the iPad and the iPhone. Radek Romanowski got me here. Radak found me at a Gasbar just outside of Komoka, Ontario. I was wearing a yellow poncho with some brownie bits stuck on. Rain had run down my knees and into my socks. My panniers were as soaked as my socks. Radek shook his head about the backroads way to Strathroy. “I have a dog. Just wait ten minutes and I will give you a ride.”

The morning started at Al’s diner. Al gave me a great breakfast and a free brownie “for the road.” The beginning of the ride, I was making time. The wind was soft and it was cool, overcast, so I just sort of lost myself in a daydream. And suddenly, I was 9 miles south of my turn. OMG WTF a short moment of panic and then I just settled in and headed west past horses and llamas and sheep. Past red barns and green grass and my legs spinning an easy groove. I crested a hill and got a wave from a guy on a surrey trotting around a gravel track. It felt crazily like being in love. With the surrey guy and Al’s brownie and the good cycling. And everything. And me being in it. Miles of bliss.

Just after Lyons, it started to rain. Light rain. But cold. So everything went in plastic; iPhone, wallet, maps, money. And I put on the yellow poncho. My map didn’t have enough detail to keep me off the large roads with the big trucks and no shoulder so I just rode west and north, trying to stay on paved roads. I was stopped at a stop sign, trying to look at the bits and pieces of map that were stuck to my fingers like second skin. A guy in an old Pontiac tried to come to my rescue with his Rand McNally. It was one of those little booklet maps and he couldn’t find us. Eventually, he just told me to ride to the end of the road that I was on because at least it went toward a town and a Tim Horton’s. And he insisted I take the Rand McNally which was nice, but kind of comical. So I made my way. It was a 10 mile road. No lie. And I kept second guessing the directions but eventually I made it to Tim Horton’s and hot tea.

Washed out though I was, I started for Komoka and the back way to Strathroy. The without a map or GPS back way. The you’ve got to be kidding lady, I’ll take my dog home and give you a ride back way. Radek and I talked all the way to Strathroy. We talked about health care and philanthropy and income discrepancies. He told me about leaving Poland. And as wonderful as it is to have those cycling moments when everything feels just right, the best part of my day was catching a ride to the Strathroy Motor Inn with Radek with brownie bits on my poncho and a Rand McNally map in my panniers.