Sunday, October 25, 2009

September 26

First, I'd like to say, I took the GRE on Friday, which I've been studying for a lot. This studying is why I have been sporadic at best with updating this.

Just outside of Racine I spoke with a man about the extra spoke holder on my bike’s chainstay. He suggested it was only useful to use the spoke as a weapon for protection; I agreed.

Today, about two miles outside of Oconto, I heard a snap.

I didn’t know what it was. Just as I got off my bike to inspect what was causing the rubbing sound that started after the snap, a truck pulled up:

“Everything alright?”
“Uhh, well, I’m not sure, something seems to not be, but I’m not sure what it is.”
”Well, where ya headed?”
“Escanaba, through Marinette.”
“Well I’m going to Marinette, I can give ya ride if you want. There might be a bike shop in town.”

I took the ride. Best case scenario I get dropped off at a bike shop in Marinette and discover it’s just my plastic fenders that cracked from a rock. Then I’ll just pretend I started my day’s ride from Marinette.

His name was Randy. We found the bike shop in Marinette thanks to a nice hunter at a Shell about 10 miles south of town. When Randy was helping me unload my bike from his trailer he somehow cut his finger. I was concerned for him, well I felt more guilty than concerned—here was this guy who gives a random stranger a ride and gets a cut finger—how’s that for karma?

“It’s alright, I bleed every day. That’s how I know I’m alive.”
“Well, thank you very much, again. If there were more people like you in the world it’d be a much better place.”

Those were my parting words to him. I meant them more than I realized I did at the time. That’s how I know I’m alive. Shit. Thinking back on this exchange with Randy, I’m shocked at the utter profundity of that statement. He could’ve just said, it’s fine, it’s just a little cut, but he didn’t. Most people probably wouldn’t offer a random stranger on the side of the road a ride, either.

Inside the bike shop, I found out, unfortunately, the owner, who is also the mechanic, wasn’t in the shop today, and wouldn’t be until Monday. And, the two guys that were there didn’t seem to know that much about replacing spokes. But we hadn’t even got the bike onto the stand yet, so I was still hoping it wasn’t a broken spoke.

Worst case scenario.

Now I didn’t know that much about replacing spokes either. I didn’t think I’d need to. I thought, I’m just going around Lake Michigan, it’s not that far. The broken spoke was found, and collectively, it got replaced. And, the wheel was trued pretty well as we put it back onto the frame. I bought some extra spokes from them and a spoke wrench, just in case. They barely charged me anything, either. At least I was having good luck when it came to paying for the results of my bad luck.

Thank you, Marinette Cycle Center, you’re also how a bike shop should be.

After the set back it was still only about 11:30. I had “traveled” 20 some miles already, thanks to Randy, even though I had barely pedaled any.

I was happy. And the sun came out after a cloudy and wet morning. The sun was making it warmer outside, too. I rode out of Marinette and into Michigan. Yes, Marinette sits on the Michigan border.

I stopped in a little to eat some carrots and trail mix, still feeling great. It quickly became overcast again. I switched from my regular sunglasses to my “cloudy” orange lenses. The sky decided to do that thing where it would drizzle a little. The drizzles would keep up until I was convinced they would persist for a while and maybe actually turn into rain. Then they would stop. Of course, the drizzles were always enough to make me wet, and cold, as a result. This kept up for the rest of my ride, until I got to Escanaba, Michigan, and checked into a hotel to avoid camping in the rain.

The sun came out again. The low temperatures made me okay with my hotel decision, even with the rain leaving. I got some phone numbers for motels from tomorrow in case it’s as cold and rainy, and thunderstormy, as the forecast says. The guys at the cycle shop checked the forecast for me before I left—thunderstorms starting at 2 tomorrow.

Hopefully it doesn’t actually get bad out until 6 or 7. That would be perfect. Or, maybe it won’t rain at all. That would be better. Better than perfect is a mind fuck.

At least I can afford all these motels and hotels. And at least I haven’t lost my house to a flood like some southerners have. (I’ve been watching the news, a lot, actually. I’m already getting sick of CNN and MSNBC. Give me npr and, and my iGoogle homepage with headlines from many major news sites, please.) At least I made it to Escanaba and my most difficult decision is which day I need to ride 80+ miles and which day to do only 60 to get close to Mackinac Island (I don’t know how long it will take to get across the bridge to Machinaw, the city, not the island. I’d rather do that earlier in the day, therefore, I need to be close enough when stop for the night).

I should do the 80+ tomorrow. I really hope it doesn’t rain.

I “lost” an hour coming into the eastern time zone and recorded some rants about time on my digital recorder, which I figured out how to place in my handlebar bag so it can pick up my voice pretty well while riding.

66 miles today, + 20 with Randy = 86 miles

I’ve traveled almost 400 miles already.

I need to get going early tomorrow.

I took more pictures today than yesterday, at least.

Lake Michigan, yep, it hasn't gone anywhere.

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