The road not taken

Life lately seems like an extended intervals session. I could really go for some LSD. And some long, steady distance, too.

Thing is, I’ve soured on all my usual rides. Like a lot of folks, I regularly retrace a number of short, well-worn paths dictated by time constraints. And familiarity, as usual, breeds contempt. There is a road not taken. I’m certain of it. And it’s out there, waiting.

Your Humble Narrator at this time last year

By this time last year I already had one bike overnight under my bibs.

It would be refreshing to hop on a bike and just go somewhere. Ride until the legs complain, then stop for a while. Eat a meal prepared by someone else, sleep in a strange bed, take a bite of breakfast and the morning’s news in some java shop and then get right back after it.

Can you tell that “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” were among the first books I took to heart? Subsequent readings and re-readings of “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Travels With Charley,” “On the Road,” “The Dharma Bums,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Lonesome Dove” and “Blue Highways” have only fertilized my tinkerish tendencies, rooted in a military brat’s peripatetic upbringing and a perpetual short-timer’s attitude as regards traditional employment.

I had hoped to squeeze in a short cycle tour this summer. Nothing ridiculous, no cross-country excursions, just a few days spent rolling Colorado roads and trails to flush out the headgear, hit the reset button, reboot. But one thing or another kept getting in the damn’ way. Exploding toilets. Spousal travel. Veterinary issues. And No. 1 on the hit parade? Work.

As a professional paranoid I try to keep a number of revenue streams flowing — writing, editing, website wrangling, cartooning — knowing that the slightest change in the journalistic climate could transform one or more of them into a bone-dry arroyo. Thus, though I don’t have a job per se, free time is surprisingly hard to come by. It seems something always needs doing.

So between extended bouts of doing, I finally dialed the deal down to what the Adventure Cycling Association calls a “bike overnight.” Ride somewhere, spend the night, and ride home. I did one last year, right around this time, to Pueblo and back. The upcoming week or two seemed perfect. The Vuelta a España remains ongoing, but the Colorado State Fair is history, Labor Day will be done and dusted and I don’t have a print deadline until after Interbike.

Alas, as the Yiddish proverb has it, “Man plans, God laughs.” The last item in our downstairs-bathroom restoration is supposed to arrive on Wednesday, followed by the plumber on Thursday, and I have to work on Saturday and Sunday. Plus Herself has another professional road trip queued up that will require someone to assume responsibility for critter management. Guess who.

Ah, well. It seems I also have another bike inbound for review, an All-City Cycles Space Horse, so duty calls. The two of us may not see as much new country as Captain Call and the Hell Bitch, but I’m hoping to get bucked off and bitten less often.

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35 Responses to “The road not taken”

  1. gbtco Says:

    Brother, do I understand. My job- which actually consists of two full time assignments- demands much of my time and energy (up to 16 hrs a day-without warning); then the missus’ job is now coming into swing, so that’ll make three for me to participate in. Get a ride in for both of us, will you?

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Life’s a bitch, and then you die.

  3. patti brehler Says:

    I think you should take that Space Horse and tour the galaxy!

  4. Larry T. Says:

    None of your neighbors can look after the critters for a few days? I get that “same old, same old” feeling here in Iowa but unlike you we’re NOT here all year, every year….that’s gotta be tough. Nasty looking clouds out there this morning, making watching the Vuelta via a pirate video stream a better bet…perhaps a bike ride later.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Larry, we do have a neighborhood dog-sitter, but Mister Boo is a delicate sort, with his bum peepers and fragile digestive tract … proper little mama’s boy he is. I like to minimize shocks to his system, especially since he will eat anything — and I do mean anything — only to see it come roaring out the other end lacking a certain structural rigidity, if you catch my drift.

  5. swellschultz Says:

    We’re leaving for Door County Tues morning, but we only have 2 birds. Max the Amazon can pretty much entertain himself as long as there’s food. Happy Labor Day evvybody!

  6. sharon Says:

    I am feeling the same sort of way. We were going to go on vacation this week then spouse found out he had to work. So I am driving out to West Texas – Ft. Davis/Alpine/ Marfa area to do some bike riding. Not exactly an overnight bike trip, but will still involve getting out of town and waking up in a different place. Besides, it is among the most beautiful places in Texas and I have so many found memories of past rides there.

  7. weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

    There, there comrade and fearless leader. Allow me to help you feel better.

    At least you CAN ride a bicycle right now. Tomorrow makes three weeks since a slight touch of wheels (mine on the former lone breakaway’s rear wheel) at our Tuesday Night World Championships of Statesville laid me up with a broken collarbone that came with a “repair surgically only” label on it. Oh yeah, there was some cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung too, but they’re all better now.

    So I’m celebrating the achievements of our blue collared forebears today with a shower- the first since surgery last Wednesday.

    I hope you and everyone else here gets a ride of some sort in today. I’ve got another 3 weeks before I can think about rolling free from a trainer- maybe more.

    I’m starting to think a one or two-nighter will have to be my reward for the time in the penalty box come October.


    • khal spencer Says:

      Sorry about the crash, Weaksides. Did exactly the same thing back in the daze when I thought I could race–chased down a break and promptly overlapped the guys’ wheel. Spent the next month or more doing the Tour de Stationary Trainer.

      Get well soon, and congrats on that first shower. I recall that milestone very well….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Man, I hate those trainer rides. I’ve broken both collarbones and did trainer stints after each. And up in Weirdcliffe some winters it was the only way to log miles. Ick. Haven’t done any ribs yet (knock knock knock) and don’t want to. Cracked ribs sound double plus ungood, as does a partially collapsed lung.

      Never fear, you’ll be back on the road before you know it. Enjoying regular showers, too. And October is a great time to ride.

  8. John Dallager Says:

    Egads! Get outside everyone, winter’s comin’!!! Just completed a 2 1/2 hour MTB thrashing on the Santa Fe Trail here in Bibleburg. Saw the Balloon Classic launch, then the Monument Parade (postponed from July 4th due to the fires here); avoided any tumbles, worked some XC and trail stuff; truly a peripatetic (nice adjective there POG!! Thanks!!) start to the work week! Cycle on!

  9. Brian Lester Says:

    On a completely different subject, I wanted to send you a link to an interesting piece written by a local schoolteacher here in Janesville, Wi. Yup, THAT Janesville. Hometown of one Paul Ryan. I’ve been living here 15 years, and was never tempted to vote for him. Just another privilidged white boy. The Janesville Gazette is a right-center rag, but usually fair-and-balanced. They ran an abridged version this got the author tagged as a lefty. The partisan BS is really getting old, ain’t it?

    Lemme know what you all think.

    • Larry T. Says:

      The guy makes valid points – too many of these Repuglicans think wherever they started was the bottom – they worked their way up so why can’t the rest? Same BS with Ryan’s boss in congress, John Boner. He likes to weep about his hardscrabble childhood, but ignores that he a) had a father who stuck around b) had a father who owned a business that hired him – as if EVERY kid in America is somehow that fortunate. Same with MIttens, who tells kids to “borrow from your parents” to finance college…everyone’s parents MUST have the loot to finance that, right? Well, everyone in MItty’s and Ryan’s neighborhood did.
      When you look at the surveys that show a majority of Repugs think the poor are poor because of some character flaw, it’s clear these folks have already made it and don’t give a rat’s a__ about those still trying. Why else would they propose huge tax breaks for the ones who have already made it while raising the taxes on those who are struggling to do the same? The election is clearly about the 99% vs the 1% – what’s not clear is who the American voter will choose.

      • Boz Says:

        On the planet Kolab, all parents are wealthy and help their kids go to collage and start a business. I’m surprised Mittens hasn’t used this fact as an example of how things work in his world.

    • Libby Says:

      Thanks for the link. Very good account and interesting for me to have an insight that town as well as the writer and Ryan. Read it yesterday an d just getting back here to reply. Thanks again. I sent it to 2 friends.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      That is a good read, Brian … thanks for passing it along.

  10. Libby Says:

    Hope you will be able to get away for a quick overnight and hit the ‘refresh’ key. You and Charles should meet up and have a live remote-remote LUG fest in the same place: cycle- friendly with good food and wine.

    • Larry T. Says:

      We’ll be back in Sicily starting mid-January, “cycle – friendly with good food and wine” is in the Italian DNA.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Libby. Charles has a half-dozen jobs (at least) and a boy in college, so he gets out and about even less than I do. And both of us were caught completely flat-footed by today’s Vuelta stage — as was Eurosport. David Harmon didn’t even know Contador was off the front and when Eurosport switched from tennis to cycling he did the usual recap of the previous day’s stage, complete with talking-head jabber and related nonsense, before someone clued him in. Helluva stage, whether you like Contador or not.

      • Libby Says:

        After a flat out busy day I checked the Vuelta news – at nearly 9PM EDT. Oh. My. God. What a day of all days, years, etc not to be able to check in.
        I feel sorry for Rodriguez and sort of a thrill that Contador pulled off this. Interesting, of course, I didn’t see it but usually highly placed riders are told to GO BACK and leave the break when they bridge….

  11. steve Milligan Says:

    oh yes…Grapes of Wrath certainly makes road trips look attractive!

  12. Boz Says:

    I, too, have had a major cut back in cycling due to that evil thing called a job. Long days at the grind stone leave me with a lack of energy and motivation when I get home. This results in making and consuming dinner, catch up with the better half’s day, an adult beverage or two, a bit of boob tube, then off the bed. Repeat the next day, then the next, etc…

    Why wasn’t I born with one percenter parents? I could be running for president right now!

    • khal spencer Says:

      Boz, that’s why I try to ride to work as much as possible.

      Otherwise, its the same old grind: Try to get home early enough and with enough energy to break out the bike or running shoes. Unfortunately, that always works out to be, in reality, at the desk late, look up at the clock, say “holy, shit, I’m late for dinner again” and go home burned out and in need of that immediate dose of the Universal Antidote. Today feels like one of those days unfolding, as it happens.

      • Larry T. Says:

        I LOVED the riding to work I did back-in-the-day in SoCal. With cushy hours I’d leave the house at 7-8 am and take the LONG way in, then no matter what happened afterwards I had already enjoyed a good ride.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Working from home can be a real pain if you’re doing too much of it. Mostly it’s great — you can work drunk, in your skivvies, balancing a plate of leftovers in your lap, and nobody from HR pops round to give your stones a squeeze.

      There are downsides, however: The temptation to work all the time, since you’re always “in the office”; the distractions of pet management, neighbor relations and (in my case, anyway) basement reconstruction); and the lack of colleagues in corpus. Ain’t nobody to turn round to and say, as the shit monsoon reaches its peak: “Fuck this noise. You want to go for a meal/beer/ride?”

      • khal spencer Says:

        The only job I would be tempted to work all the time would be as the quality control tester at a very high end brothel.

  13. Karen Says:

    As already mentioned, why not get a neighbor to pet-sit? Or see if your vet will do overnite kenneling. Trade for some of the good food you create.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, Karen … as mentioned above in my absurdly delayed reply to a similar suggestion, Mister Boo tends to be the sticking point. The cats are fine — Turkish, despite his size, is a fearful fellow who hides from any human who isn’t Herself or Your Humble Narrator, while Mia is a social kitty who loves everyone and is easily handled by strangers.

      But the Boo is a fussy, demanding, fragile little flower who doesn’t care much for any creatures who are not Herself and will actually stomp his little feet when he doesn’t get his way — and oy, you should see him around a vet or groomer. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Fido, is what. I’m talking muzzle time.

      • Libby Says:

        I am now thinking – no bike, just you (and Herself) and a dog named Boo (sorry) take off. See “Harry and Tonto”. Art Carney and his orange cat go on a road trip. Directed by Paul Mazursky, I believe.

  14. BenS Says:

    Until the non-voluntary retirement last year even a bike overnight was beyond reach. In July there was time, more than enough time, to tour from Pittsburgh to DC with Amtrak rides at each end.

    Slow, hot and fun. Couldn’t get the trip out of my head for weeks and will be going back with friends (not that I lacked for other tourist to ride with this time) next year.

    Nice people, no bugs, no cars, green trees nothing not to like. Sometimes the bad times lead to very interesting places.

    Get out Patrick, put Buddy and the killer cats in (separate) crates and take them with you.

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