Archive for August, 2006

For British Eyes Only: There and Back Again

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Ahhh, the final For British Eyes Only… It’s been emotional. If I could, I’d cry, but Jacob’s already covered that issue. Plus, I’m not a bender.

Every day, I receive hundreds of emails from well-wishers, supporters, groupies asking the same question: What is the allusion in ‘For British Eyes Only?’. Well, during WWII which the Americans won, the long standing SOE agents and liberating D-Day forces in France would often be required to search the Gallic boutiques for lurking Jerries. In the ‘Period of Nazi Collaboration’ (occasionally called the ‘Occupation of France’), the frogs’ lust for their weekly review of journals of the carnal arts were not stemmed even though the nation was unable to feed itself, and thus a fair amount of lewd material was to be found on shelves. This proved a deadly weapon in the hands of the Hun, who would open the magazine at the (in)appropriate page and show the Tommie. Reacting as every good Brit would, he shielded his eyes, leaving him open to attack, and the poor defenceless chap was riddled with bullets – a tactic later used by the Brits themselves in Operation Kratos. Thus, Churchill ordered the French President, Pepe Le Pew, to produce a special kind of sanitized filth dubbed ‘For British Eyes Only’, including such depravities as images of a ladies’ calf and ankle from 30ft, or a rather racy curving vase, and words like ‘mammary’ typed with only 2 letters replaced by an Asterix (another famous cheese eating surrender monkey). This proved successful, and allowed a safe conclusion to Operation Overlord. But enough history…

The final FBEO is composed on solid English soil. It’s overcast outside, and Michael Fish tells me there could be showers with intermittent sunshine. That’s the best kind, because I have to carry both wet and dry weather apparel. Huzzah!

Much as the US began to grate towards the end, I really can’t help feeling it could have been done better. Circumstances not withstanding, which did their best to get in our way, we reached the end, but the whole finale was thrown out of kilter. Without a support car, we entered a bit of a downward spiral, with no-one really sure what was going on, endless trivialities got in the way of key issues, and before we knew it, we had to leave. And then we were gone. Fin. An anticlimax if ever I saw one. Next time I vote we bring a German – one of those would never let things get so out of hand…

I feel sorry for the Hopkins and SKCCC chaps and chapesses who put on an excellent do for us, because we were so flustered we couldn’t settle into it. I blame Mercury for the car (the root of the issue), and lawsuits have been issued. I also feel sorry for me too. This morning a package arrived with a small sampler of the Italian and Spanish delights they sampled at Pazo, but it wasn’t the same (Air travel destroys food, fact.). I’d just like to say thanks for the turn out, and if I am ever in the area, can I take you up on that tour offer…?

The trip we took showed us a totally different view of America to what everyone sees, and what we expected. Putting the madness aside (concealed weapons in cars…), the US has alot going for it if you dare to venture more than 50 miles from the coastline or the major airport hubs (of 5,500 airports, over 90% is through 10 major hubs – thank you very much Smithsonian Air and Space Museum!). It’s perfectly possible to go where ever you want amongst some amazing terrain, and be totally free from the attachments of civilisation (which maybe integral or extraneous, depending on you standpoint). I would definitely say the Rocky Mountains are somewhere I would gladly visit again (but Kansas…? Corn is corn, get over it…) and have a world hidden away inside that is totally different from anything you could experience in the US, England or the world. Equally, the Red Canyon is something so alien to me, I would bare the heat to be back there, though I am sure I’ll regret saying that sometime soon.

Am I glad I did it? Yes, of course. I began to understand there is a limited amount of taxicab wisdom in Ezra’s maxim “Fun doesn’t have to be fun”. So what’s next? Stay out of the saddle for a while, and try to learn to love my old Ridgeback Velocity again. After that – true, we’d like to do something similar. England would be a walk in the park, plus cheap (Rah-hoo!). And then Scandinavia, what more can I say than Totty Allotment! (I hope Morgin doesn’t read this). Don’t worry, we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…

Finally, what did I do with all that “wonderful time to think” that people saw as the major incentive to the trip? I squandered it. Just like every other commodity I’ve ever had.

Until next time: Pax ex, bellum in, PMG

A few not-so-final words…

Friday, August 18th, 2006

Well, our tour of America is over and we’ve all made it home safely (…actually I think John is still stranded in Baltimore). We’ve made new friends and even some enemies and our cultural paradigm has radically shifted — mostly away from rednecks. However, we couldn’t have made it through this trip without all of the emails and blog comments of support and the mysterious kindness of strangers and folks we met along the road.

So a giant thank you to everyone who donated, supported, and cheered us on in the past month and a half! You have no idea what it has meant to us all.

Also, there are a few more posts to go for this trip so don’t de-bookmark this blog yet. Paddy is writing up another For British Eyes Only and I’ll be blogging a bit about the aftermath (“Where Are They Now”). We shan’t disappoint!

Please join us again on our next adventure in a new country, new time zones, and new cultures and locals to abuse and lampoon. We’re thinking England over spring break and then another big tour next summer (perhaps Italy, Spain or somewhere in Scandinavia). It’s all up in the air right now, but again, we still have no idea of what is realistic so something exciting is bound to happen.

PS: If you need a cycling blog fix, I recommend Jane’s Appeal.

Day 44: The Final Countdown.

Friday, August 18th, 2006

Tuesday, August 15th. Tonight we sleep at an undisclosed location in Baltimore, MD.

(If you haven’t read Day 43, I recommend you do so right… now.)

In the morning, Will DeVar picked up Paddy and myself after driving 3 hours from Virginia in his spacious Suburban. He’s our savior right now: he’s the only thing making the final day of this trip possible. Paddy and I met back up with the other CCFC riders in Fredrick, about 5 or 7 miles outside of the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. We all changed into our CCFC jerseys and rode together toward the fabled Atlantic Ocean.

But, of course, one final “F.U.” to cyclists had to occur before we arrived: Just after we entered Baltimore, the surroundings transformed from pseudo-suburban to absolutely slumming. People were leering and jeering at us, and someone even threatened to throw a brick he was holding at Ezra.

John had brought portable speakers and put them in his jersey. When we pulled into the Inner Harbor he blasted our official CCFC song: The Final Countdown, by Europe (…a band from Europe). Our cheesy 1980s-ballad arrival into the Inner Harbor was greeted by Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center friends and Hopkins 4K riders.

Arriving at the harbor provided a truly surreal experience: we are done. All we’ve known for six weeks is hot, melting asphalt. And now we’re at another ocean. How does that work? Anyway, we dipped our wheels into the Atlantic (Does the Chesapeake Bay count? We’re still divided on that.) and took some publicity photos.

And we are, after all, Cross Country for Cancer… so…

Finally we all met the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) crew for the first time. We’re glad they could come out and greet us at the harbor:

(The first women we’ve interacted with in weeks!)

After exchanging howdies and being accosted congratulated by many random tourists at the harbor, we headed over to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center itself for a reception. Also, Ezra, Max, David, and John had met up with another cyclist in the last miles to Baltimore, so he joined in the celebration as well. I’m still not really sure who he is, but, hell, the more the merrier!

At last, we had the chance to rub shoulders with Sidney Kimmel himself. Yah. So while this painting makes it seem like he’s pushing up daisies in a pleasant New England cemetery, Mr. Kimmel is, in fact, alive and well. (He’s clearly not here, though.) Hopefully he has read this blog and had a good laugh, but I suspect his secretary reads it to him and describes the photos (“There’s a red arrow pointed at the helmet…”). It’s a little known fact that extremely wealthy people generally don’t bother to learn to read.

After the reception and meeting a few doctors, faculty, fellow cycling enthusiasts, and administrators, we started to realize that most of us didn’t know where we were going to sleep or how we were going to get to airports tomorrow. The SKCCC folks came to the rescue and helped us find bike boxes and figure out how to get our stuff to hotels and what-have-you. Not having the support car really put a damper on our options at the end of the trip.

Cross Country for Cancer and Hopkins 4K: reunited at last.

At this point, Max and Paddy left with Will DiVar to Washington DC in preparation for their flights back to their native land of Australia England. If you’re American, I’ve heard that only 35% of the population can point to England on a globe so I’ve made a map. If you are one of the brilliant 35%, I’ve included Kazakhstan as well so you can learn something new:

The parting of Paddy and Max was far too anticlimatic for my tastes, but there was nothing we could do. There were no last drinks or meals together or any sort of Pomp and Circumstance. They just got in a car and left us. Forever. *sob*

After attempting to cry but realizing our tear-ducts had shriveled to nothing due to 6-weeks of dehydration, the four-remaining members set off to do what we’ve all missed: go pubbing! We had reservations at a restaurant later, so a few hours needed to be dropped like a bad date. And Heather from SKCCC knew a great little place in Baltimore called “you’ll see”. David was already gone from the 2 ounces of Champagne at the reception (“Guys, my eyes are buzzing!”), but that didn’t slow any of us down.

Upon leaving the pub we found a sweet support car for our next trip. (As if rednecks need more reasons…)

Finally we hit the last event for the day: dinner at Pazo. Oh and what a dinner it was. Fourteen showed up between CCFC, SKCCC, and Hopkins 4K. The dinner probably the most hedonistic meal I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Plate after plate of Italian and Spanish delicacies were delivered and passed around for over two hours. It was essentially a 12 course meal of smaller servings.

Unfortunately John didn’t really tell us what we were in for when he booked a meal at Pazo. Even more unfortunately the we’re fundraising for cancer research-card didn’t work at Pazo’s like it did at campsites.

After dinner and farewells, David, Ezra, and I went off to a hotel in Bel Air, MD and packed our bikes and gear late into the morning. Chesapeake Community Church put us up in the hotel at late notice and we’re extremely grateful. The youth pastor, Arie Mangrum, drove us and all of our bikes and bags around in the evening and even took us for breakfast and to the airport in the morning. Without Arie and Will DeVar to help us after our support car broke down, David, Ezra and myself would probably still be stranded in Baltimore. Many thanks to them both!

That about sums up our six week marriage to America. We’re pleased to have done the tour and to be done with the tour. Would we do America again? Definitely not. Will CCFC ride again in another country? Absolutely. Stay tuned for European adventures in the future.

Today’s Numbers

Miles cycled: 80
Flat tire tally: 40
SKCCC Administrators that were upset with what I wrote about Southern Missouri: 1 (Let the record show I love Central and Northern Missouri)
Times John was called a “p**sy b**ch” during dinner by Hopkins 4K girls: 2
Times Jacob asked the waitress at Pazo to marry him: 0
Days John will be stranded in Baltimore because he doesn’t realize yet that you have to be 25 to rent a car: 4
Hours to Baltimore from San Francisco: 1,047 hours
Hours to San Francisco from Baltimore: 8

Day 43: This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball.

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Monday, August 14th. The group has split between Cumberland, MD and Haggerstown, MD.

As I mentioned yesterday, we are slept at a bicycle trailhead that heads to Washinton DC. What it lacks in water and other services that keep you alive it more than makes up for in freezing temperatures. After spending most of America sweating in morning heat, we love a good morning frost. We all felt very cozy in our sleeping bags so, once again, we made excellent excuses to stay warm and avoid cycling before 7am. Max got up and started kicking us all and playing loud music, but finally gave up and fell asleep in the car.

We’re all excited about today because it’s our last full day before riding into Baltimore!

David returned to us during the night: Ezra picked him up about 40 miles from where we camped. It’s good to have him back, but he’s a new man. He looks… healthy. I didn’t realize until now how skinny and dirty we all have become (and we haven’t showered in 4 days). I was sure we all had lost quite a bit of body fat in the past 6 weeks, but it’s truly apparent now as we gaze on David’s fat little kosher face.

We rode off one by one as we rolled out of bed and rendezvoused at a McDonalds a few miles down the road. Then 20 miles later disaster struck: our support car croaked on a hill. The car started lugging. Then the car started smoking. I shut it down and prepared to rescue all of my gear from a soon-to-be-flaming auto (everyone else can get their bags out later). Thankfully it was only hot transmission fluid and no real fire erupted. Unfortunately, the car is toast.

So we’ve been going this whole way thinking that we have Ezra’s AAA service to rescue us in moments like these. But it turns out it isn’t paid up and they won’t let him renew until 12pm. (We broke down about 9am.) So we set up camp in the road and waited it out. We’ve camped in more dangerous spots, so no biggie.

Max, Paddy, John and I got a makeshift came of Texas Hold’em going and David and Ezra made coffee. For poker chips we used all of the Multivitamins we hadn’t consumed on the trip. (You could buy-in with as many vitamins as you could eat at once.) We were really quite comfortable despite the traffic challenging our new home.

Oh, Max.

Now how the deuce are we going to make it to Baltimore (and home) without a support car? Various friends in Washington DC were called, but none answered. Rent a car? None of us are over 25. Hitchhike with 2 tons in luggage? Pass. Finally through vicarious use of someone’s account over the phone we picked up the phone number of Will DeVar. I recommend you say his name out-loud as you read this (it sounds like “willdivar”), as it’s a really pleasant experience. Sort of like “cellar doors”. Will-DiVar!

On top of Will being patient enough to drive 3 hours out to pick us up from a little hell-hole called Cumberland, he’s completely trashed on narcotics from an accident two days ago. He was painting the second story of a house and the ladder collapsed underneath him. On the way down his face slammed into a light on the side of the house. Sort of like Dennis Hopper at the end of Speed… Except Will miraculously survived.

Will, a fellow American at Oxford, agreed to pick us up tomorrow morning from Cumberland and take our stuff to Baltimore. So we planned it all out: John, Ezra, Max, and David would ride the final 140 miles to Baltimore tonight and tomorrow without car support and the gimps (Paddy and myself) would take care of finding a way of scrapping the support car, repacking everything for Will’s car, and investigating ways to get home for those relying on the car. Go team!

Once the support car was towed from our campsite-on-the-road back down to Cumberland, Paddy and I went to the local McDonald’s a block away from the mechanic shop. And we stayed at the McDonald’s for… 8 hours. 4pm until it closed at midnight. Honestly, there was nowhere else to go and we were in the worst part of town in the worst town in Maryland (says Will). Luckily they had pay-to-play Wifi access ($3 for 2 hours), so we kept what’s left of our sanity by booking flights and watching YouTube videos. Oh, and we calculated that today I consumed over 5500 calories at McDonald’s for $8 and Paddy consumed 4000 for $6 (he skipped our team breakfast at McD’s this morning). Just for reference, the average male needs about 1800-2300 calories a day.

I now know intimately why America has an obesity problem.

Everyone we talked to at the McDonald’s (and elsewhere) told us we were crazy to sleep outside in this part of town, especially since we’re 100 yards from a huge train depot. We knocked on a few doors but nobody would answer or agree to let us camp in their fenced-yards. The mechanic shop said we could sleep in the support car on the lot. It was extremely humid and hot in the car, so I moved outside after trying in vain for a few hours to reach unconsciousness. (Paddy wouldn’t roll down the windows for fear of being shived or strangled.)

As soon as I bed down between a red van and the support car, it started to sprinkle. I didn’t have a sleeping bag or any shelter, so I just lay there and let it happen. Whenever it would start to pour too hard, I’d stand up and sleep leaning again the car. When the rain would let up a bit and sprinkle again, I’d lay back down. It sounds horrible, but at this point we’re all so feral it just doesn’t matter anymore. I consider this a good night sleep compared to Hite, UT or most of Missouri. But still, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me two months ago I’d be sleeping in an oily mechanic shop parking lot like a homeless drifter.

So how are the four cyclists fairing with their 140-mile night ride to Baltimore…?

They’re sleeping at a Quality Inn in Hagerstown, MD.

PS: Max got lost again today between where the car broke down and where the tow truck took it. We were worried since we didn’t have the support car to go find him. But all is well, so don’t worry, Mrs. Capener.

Today’s Numbers:

Miles cycled: 20+140
Flat tire tally: 40
Miles the car made it: 4700
Miles the car didn’t make it: 140
Sleeps to go for Jacob and Paddy: 0
Sleeps to go for John, Max, Ezra, and David: 1
Estimated cost to repair 1992 Mercury Sable: $1600-$2400
Cost for Jacob and Ezra to fly home to California instead of drive: $510
Tents that will be thrown away: 3
Days since Max has been lost: 0

0 more sleeps to go…

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Posts for Days 43 and 44 are coming tomorrow… They will be lengthy (but gripping) and cover the final moments of our tour of America, ending in fatality and rebirth. I’ll be sitting in an airport for quite a few hours tomorrow, so I think I’ll be able to write everything and get it all posted up.

Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

(This is assuming they’ll let me take my laptop as carry-on. Thanks to recent unfortunate events, they may not. Cross your fingers…)

Day 42: Maryland, my belle.

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Sunday, August 13th. We are bedding in Frostburg, MD.

We’ve done it. We’ve crossed into Maryland. The final state of our tour of America. This is big, real big.

After 70 miles of Appalachian mountaintops, we reached Frostburg, a little quaint little town of little-to-no importance. We’ve been ascending summits of over 3,000 feet all day. But as Max would say, “I piss 3,000 feet before breakfast” (which is sometimes true). After peaking almost 12,000 feet in the Rockies, the Appalachians seem like little more than a hiccup on the short road to Baltimore. Only two more days of riding: nothing can stop us now.

The Frostburg police, after 3 hours of deliberation, decided to put us on private property a few miles out of town. They had us camp at a trailhead to Washington DC. No water, but at this point we’ve stopped caring about even basic human necessities. At the beginning of this trip we would have never camped down in a place without water, but the road changes you: It makes you dumber.

Shortly David will return to us from his week in Chicago and best of all…

Did I mention Max got “lost” in the last few miles today? Actually, he didn’t get lost, but he punctured a tire and wasn’t carrying a pump. He walked about 3 miles, then hitched a few miles, then found someone with a pump. The worst part was I put the GPS transmitter on him for the last stretch before reaching Frostburg but as soon as it went in his pocket it stopped transmitting. Max is like a blackhole for any sort of map or directional device. When he holds a compass the needle just spins around and around.

Tomorrow: No more states to go!

Today’s Numbers:

Miles cycled: 80
Flat tire tally: 40 (The past 8-9 have been Max)
Days to Baltimore: 3
Miles driven to pick up David: 80
Police wearing “Sheriff” uniforms: all of them (everyone was promoted…?)
Hours spent waiting for dark before camping on a trailhead (as to avoid suspicion): 5
Hours spent listening to Max talk about his strong lust for a milkshake: 5

Day 43 (teaser): Thwarted by a trannie!

Monday, August 14th, 2006

Monday, August 14th, 5:38pm. Paddy and I are trapped in Cumberland, MD.

Well, I know I haven’t posted Day 42 yet, but Ezra has the camera and all of the pertinent photos are on there. I’ll post as soon as I can (which should be tomorrow).

Here’s the status: we were going 90 miles today and breezing another 70 miles tomorrow all the way to Baltimore. However, 20 miles in, our car has gone and injured itself. The transmission is toast. And as far as we’re concerned, it’s totaled.

So Paddy and myself are staying with the car at a mechanic shop and waiting for a friend from Alexandria (south of Washington DC) to pick us up tomorrow morning. (We’ll have a wrecker take the car.) Ezra, David, Max, and John left to cycle the 140 miles on to Baltimore this afternoon with no car support. If all goes well, they should be there around 4am (unless they find a suitable place to sleep without bags and tents).

If things do not go well, Paddy and Max will miss their flights back to the UK on the 16th. We’re talking $2000 in wasted tickets here, people. It’s a high-stakes game of death.

Tune in tomorrow to discover the outcome of our four brave heros and the two neat guys who stayed back and guarded their stuff. The board is set, the pawns are moving forward, and the King and Queen have hung back to be covered by the Knight.

PS: Paddy and I have the GPS transmitter. We’ll turn it on as soon as we start moving again.

Day 41: Triple Threat

Monday, August 14th, 2006

Saturday, August 12th. Tonight we bed down in Waynesburg, PA.

Each morning we rise to the same routine. David wakes us and we all ride off. Only David is gone. So what do we do? We lie in bed for two hours joking around about police officers and singing about how many “sleeps” are left before we reach Baltimore. “Four more sleeps to go! FOUR MORE SLEEPS TO GO!!” To be fair, it was one of our coldest mornings, which is wonderful since most of this trip we’ve woken still sweating from the heat.

In spite of our impending insanity, of which this blog tracks in detail, we managed to ride off by 8:30. A new record for lateness. Go team! I must admit, and nothing personally against the riders who are away, but having four riders is a perfect size. In the morning there is less camp to clean up and packing the car isn’t like playing some real-life version of Tetris with banjos, day packs, cooking items and tents. It’s more like throwing a hot-dog down a hallway. Easy as pie. (Whatever that means… making pie is tough.)

We only had to ride 70 miles today, a mere hop and skip by our averages. In that period, we managed to ride in three states: Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Considering we’ve only passed through eight states in the past five weeks, three in one day is loosely fantastic. As David would say, “I’m amazing!!”

In Key, West Virginia, we stopped for breakfast and, for the second time this trip, enjoyed cereal with real milk. Only the milk tasted like soap, but whatever. More notably, Paddy and Max had a bit of a row before the next stretch of riding. It went something like this:

Paddy pulls chunky chocolate milk out of our cooler-turned-heater (no ice)
Ezra: “That’s the most disgusting thing you’ve touched in days!”
Paddy: “No it’s not, last night I touched Max’s bum.”
Max: “No you didn’t!”
Paddy: “Yes I did touch your bum, it was cold.”
Max: “What, you touched my bum just now?”
Paddy: “No, last night. You were sleeping.”
Max: “You touched my bum while I was sleeping?”
Paddy: “Yes, Maxy. I touched your bum and it was cold.”
Shirtless redneck in yellow truck, who was been watching this the whole time, licks lips.
Max: “Well next time you touch my bu…”
Jacob: “Guys! Shut the **** up!”
Paddy: “Wha?”
Jacob: “You’re going to get us all killed!!

Later in the afternoon we arrived at Waynesburg, PA and asked the Police where we could sleep. They had no idea. You’ve got to understand we’re riding off of the all standard cycling routes. We’re cycling on virgin roads… and that’s why people stare at us without even attempting to be discreet. If we walk into a restaurant, lycra or otherwise, people just stare. And stare… and stare. The waitresses draw straws to see who gets to wait on the foreigners (“I hear they tip in gold-doubloons!”). Or if we ride into a town, people will literally stand five feet from us and just stare without saying a word. You turn and make prolonged eye contact, and they still say nothing. It’s very awkward. (For them. We like it.)

Anyway, I was talking about the sleeping arrangements. The police finally decided to put us a mile east of town at a softball field next to the sewage processing plant. But the final joke is on them: we urinated all over the field. (The bathrooms were locked.) Take that Barnesville Sewage Processing Plant! Ha-ha!

John returned to us thanks to finding our location via the GPS system. The police pointed him to the field where we were staying, and at around 11pm we witnessed some strange man break into our support car. Just as we worked out a way to take him out, we realized it was John. I’m glad we didn’t take any weapons on this trip.

Tomorrow: More Pennsylvania and then Maryland, the final state we’ll visit before dropping like a lead balloon on Baltimore. Also, the triumphant return of David the White (formerly David Gray). Oh, and Max will get lost somehow.

Today’s Numbers:

Miles cycled: 70
Flat tire tally: 39
Powerbar wrappers that opened properly this entire trip: 1 of 97
Sleeps to go: 4
Banging preteen pool parties at our campsite: 2
Morning hours spent justifying “just another 5 minutes” in the sleeping bag: 1.75
Team members currently with us: 5 of 6

Day 40: And then there were four.

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Friday, August 11th. Tonight we are staying in Barnesville, Ohio.

We woke fresh (and an hour late) from our wonderful rest days in Granville, OH. For the first time it felt like our bodies were given enough time to mend themselves and there was no morning ache and fatigue on the bikes. We had a great little breakfast (using real milk in cereal for the first time) and began the final 5-day sprint to Baltimore.

If you recall, David left us about a week ago to visit Chicago and go to a wedding. That left us with 5 riders. Now, John has decided to stay at his home in Ohio for a couple days as well. That leaves us with a solid four: Ezra, Paddy, Max, and myself. Are we the champions? Yes, there is no doubt about that. Sorry, David and John, better luck next time. We’ll try to find participant awards for you both. (Though keep in mind John and David will be rejoining us in a few days to finish all together in Baltimore on the 15th.)

The morning ride took longer than expected because it turns out Ohio has no real highway clean-up system. There is weeks old rotting roadkill and glass everywhere. You basically ride until you run out of spare tubes from glass punctures or until you can’t stand the rottening-flesh smell. Also, Eastern Ohio took a turn for the worse with more Southern Missouri-style redneck attacks on the cyclists. (One passenger in a red truck tried to push me over from his window on a 55 MPH highway.)

By the time we hit Zanesville, I was the only cyclist left on the road after both Max and Paddy had used up all of their spare tubes from flats. Honestly, there is glass sprinkled every few feet. Your brain goes completely numb after hours of vigilantly looking for any glittering a few feet ahead of you on the road.

I thought things would be better in Zanesville, but it turned out they are the Broken-Glass Capital of the World. I’m pretty sure they hold Molotov Cocktail festivals (or something) every night without bothering to clean up the mess. By this point, riding through glass was unavoidable and I just hoped for the best… since otherwise nobody would reach Ezra 14 miles further down the road where he was waiting in the support car.

Once we all rendezvoused again, we enjoyed our second breakfast at Denny’s (the first was on Day 1). We need them to sponsor us next tour. During the pancakes, Max whipped out his photo IDs and we made a startling observation:

At the end of the day in Barnesville we rejoiced in having a decent park to stay at: a pool, open showers, wifi, and luxurious toilets (that means they have stall doors, which is rare). However, at around 2am the local police rolled up on us and woke Max with their flashlights. We’re pleased he didn’t blindly respond with “Okay, which one of you turds want to get their face punched in?” Instead they asked who he was and he said something about a charity while half asleep. When they asked why we were at their park Paddy chimed in “Well, there’s a water fountain.” We were golden from there. Finally after more harassment and running background checks on Ezra, myself, and the support car (it somehow came up as a Mercedes) they let us be.

In other news, this website has now reached a new low. I was looking through a report of what people search the web for to find us, and lo-and-behold, “preteen bangers” was on the list. After a quick “wtf” moment, I searched Google and discovered we are ranked as the 17th most relevant website on that topic (though we’ll probably be higher after this post). But before you call NetNanny on us, it’s only because of a unfortunately written sentence in Day 27… something about “gang-bangers” (look at the numbers). Paddy thought this was why the Police approached us at 2am in the park. But I guess Google isn’t that powerful yet…

Tomorrow: West Virginia and Pennsylvania, just the four of us.

Today’s Numbers:

Miles cycled: 110
Flat tire tally: 38
People met walking across America: 6
People walking for Cancer: 1
Perverts visiting our site: at least 1
Perverts donating to Cancer: probably 0
Sleeps to go: 4
Days since Max has been lost: 3
Days since real showers: 1
Days until real showers:4

Day 39 (rest day): Mall Rats and Teddy Bears

Friday, August 11th, 2006

Thursday, August 10th. We are currently staying at John’s place in Granville, Ohio.

Well, it’s our second rest day here in Ohio. We’re burning up the extra day we gained in Kansas by riding over 320 miles in 36 hours. John woke us up with news of breakfast and… what? More cycling?! He secretly picked up a permit to fundraise at a mall in Columbus, though none of us were in any mood to do it on our rest day. It would mean cycling on a trainer in the middle of a mall for most of the day. We agreed we could get more money by selling the permit to some other shady group. So, in the end, we decided to skip that particular fundraiser and do one in the afternoon in downtown Granville where newspapers would pick up the story.

(Above: John agrees he doesn’t want to do the fundraiser either. Paddy rejoices.)

We still went to the mall in the morning anyways and found they had prepared a booth for us and everything. Oops. So John spent an hour at the booth while we all picked up supplies for the trip. You know… mall stuff… like new GAP swim trunks. And Abercrombie catalogs for the lonely nights.

Paddy headed over to “Build-A-Bear”, a little shop where you can design, stuff, and clothe your own teddy bear. He wanted a bear with 8 inch arms and 2 inch legs. I don’t know if you’ve picked it up from this blog, but Paddy… well Paddy’s a freak. (And not the good kind that you’d pay $2 to leer at.)

Paddy’s new “best friend”:

Back at the ranch, we enjoyed more of John’s Mom’s fabulous cooking including the culmination of all of the leftovers from other meals. It was like a potpourri of the past two days worth of meals, and it was fantastic. We stuffed ourselves doubly to prepare for getting back on the saddle tomorrow.

In the evening, John’s friends checked out our support car (aka “The Gimpmobile”) for any issues. They think it’ll make it to Baltimore and back to San Francisco, so that’s a bit of good news for Ezra and myself. We weren’t sure if the car would even make it to Baltimore in the first place.

Tomorrow we finish up Ohio. Then, some more states of various names and colors on a map.

Today’s Numbers:

Miles cycled: a few on the trainer
Flat tire tally: 35 (Max magically got one without touching his bike)
Films watch today: 0
Days without losing Max: 2
Satiated stomaches: 5
Mimes at Mall: 1
Internet at John’s house: 0