This post will undoubtedly be my best ever, because the fabulous airport terminal Muzak has set the perfect tone for my end….ALERT! ALERT! The rest of this post (written in the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Airport), all 800-plus words of it, disappeared unaccountably, and trust me, it really was my best one. Anyway, following is a reasonable facsimile of what I think I wrote.
In my mid-ride post I may have made the ride sound worse than it really was, but in fact it was not without a few fun moments…I’m thinking… oh yeah, there was the bit with Charley (not his real name). As background, I must explain that a group of us do a trip like this every year. Three in the group (including me) had decided on the cheaper “double occupancy” option, which meant an unknown quantity was assigned as a fourth, and that was Charley. On day one, since the three of us hadn’t seen each other in a year, we decided to roll a third bed into one room, catch-up and swap lies. None of us had seen or met Charley and I suppose he thought he had lucked out with a single room for the entire trip. But starting with day two and going forward, a different one of us would show up at Charley’s room at the end of the day’s ride. We explained to a somewhat perplexed Charley what was going on, but the tour staff and motel managers were constantly confused. So, at dinner on Wednesday night we announced to our amused fellow cyclists that we were simply taking turns sleeping with Charley.
For sheer variety, intense discomfort and even a couple of tour high points, you could not beat Thursday. That morning I opened the drapes to a low, leaden sky that did not bode well. Sure enough, 10 miles into the ride (which would end up being 78 mi in total) the rain started; this was followed by two flats before the lunch stop, which involved fiddling with tires, tubes, tools and CO2 while sitting in wet grass. However, proving that even in the middle of a really awful day, something great can happen (but hardly ever), the lunch at the Waterville Fire Company was (I can’t believe I’m saying this) wonderful. It was all homemade by a jovial group of local ladies. Realizing that I needed a balanced, nutritional, and healthy lunch that could get me through the rest of that mess of a day, I went straight to the pie table and had two of the best pieces of cherry pie I had ever tasted. Those cheerful and accomplished ladies ( who also sang an impromptu version of “That’s Amore”), that pie, and a cup of hot coffee were enough to get me back out the door and into the rain.
Slog forth you idiot! And slog I did until my third flat about 5 mi down the road, ^%&^#@! This confirmed one of my long-held beliefs that “in the middle of a really crappy day, things can get worse.” This time, however, as I carefully scanned the exterior of the tire I found the offender and squeezed a tiny shard of something out of a hole, confirming another of the author’s firmly held beliefs that “really bad things can, and usually do, start from something very small.”
Back on the bike, slog, slog slog through towns like Salladasburg (not a misspelling), Quiggleville and… wait for it, Balls Mills. The cue sheet (the rider’s daily guide) actually said “Right turn at Balls Mills Methodist Church.” I don’t know about you, but if I was starting my own Methodist church, even if it happened to be in Balls Mills, I would have named it after something else.
Miraculously with 10 mi to go the rain stopped and the torture was soon over. After 50 mi of riding in the rain and 3500 ft of climbing, we looked like last week’s dirty laundry and felt like…well…a few beers might help…and they did! We were all “pooped.” By the way, did you know that “spell check” suggests the following alternate words for pooped: popped, pooled, looped, cooped and hooped; don’t they kind of roll off the tongue nicely. How pooped? At dinner I overheard one guy order mashed potatoes instead of baked, explaining that he would have ordered baked, but the mashed were less work.
It was during dinner that the author again lived-up to his adjective by abandoning his self-imposed one-martini rule and having a second, and well… the picture inserted below shows the start of the evening’s downhill course.
Friday was unremarkable and got even less so, with dinner at a place unappetizingly named Quaker Steak and Lube. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t get past that weird name, and it got even weirder when as we left they inexplicably handed everyone a red twizzler and a handiwipe. Oh, oh, oh maybe I just worked it out; the twizzler represented a dip stick and the handiwipe, the rag to wipe it with?
Saturday (home day) and only 50 mi in spectacular weather. About half way through, I stopped at a Dunkin Donut, wolfed two donuts and had my water bottle filled with hot coffee for the rest of the trip. Then, more crazy-named towns: Nescopeck, Wapwallopen, Mocanaqua, and Shickshinny (try saying that last one fast three times after a couple of beers) and finally good ol’ “Wilkesberry.”
Well, thanks for putting up with my vacation and the lack of tractor news. By the way, I was pretty jealous as I rode by dozens of actual working tractors out in the fields. I’ll be back soon with more tractor news.