Life On Two Wheels

Along the river and toward the mountains a morning shadow shimmers across the road. The rays of the first light jet through the trees and across a figure gliding upon the road. His breath trails in short spurts, petrified as it hits the icy air. All is quiet except the slight sound of the athlete as he summons himself for yet another days work. Soon the rest of the world will bustle with life as well and the brief simplicity of cyclist and nature will disappear into the everyday struggle of life in full motion; the errands and intervals, the appointments and intersections, and the deadlines and finish lines OutPaceTheRace

Sunday, January 08, 2006

East Coast Trip

What happens when one pays five guys, who race bikes, to go east for three weeks? That's a formidable question, but it's best explained in a certain elegance that shines light on the very area in which they travel... is it in the backwoods of Vermont where they can sit and gather their thoughts? Is it Queens, where there is so much to do that they can walk up and down Manhattan several times before the race the next day? Or is it on Bridle Dr where they can sit and listen to the banter of ex-teacher retiree in regard to the various delights of Pennsylvanian custom?
No matter where the five go, certain adventure is fact. Let's start with the less than exquisite stay in Vermont.
We arrive at the place of residence no later than 1:00am eastern time. It's dark and we've just got done driving from the Burlington Airport ( a hair raising experience given that one Anton Jackson was sporting his excellent driving skills, yes those are the same ones that on average drive 5 miles a week). So were exiting the car and commenting on the run down shanty-like look of the place we would be staying in for the next week. We proceed to our rooms with keys in hand and find an infestation of insect-like creatures within. Did I mention we'd be staying here for the next week? I think I did, but for added effect I'll mention it again. Anyway, we wake up at 10:00 the next morning and prepare for the worst as far as breakfast (it’s a "bed" and breakfast) has to offer. It goes well and we're informed that there's a TV that works upstairs. So we go for a bike ride and come back to settle in for a hardy day of watching T.V. For the next week we race, eat and watch T.V. --- ! I forgot to mention the part about the three rooms: Russell said that he got three rooms for six people squared away. We get there and sleep in the three rooms, despite the fact that we got one key for one room. We figured it was a mistake, and since the rooms were all unlocked we helped ourselves. The next day we faced the reprimand when we met the beast who owned the place. Her name was Betsy. She was pissed. She had it reserved for some people who came and left due to the state of its occupancy. They were going to pay her $400 to do so, but left because of us. So poor Betsy charged us $100. I guess she's barely hanging onto a thread there, despite the fact that she owns 400 acres and had a ski area purchase half of her previous 1000 acres from her years ago. But maybe she gambled away her lofty fortune and now survives only by the $100 stays of bikers from Washington. I guess she just doesn't understand how important we are, and the vast international influence we possess.
We finish racing and drive to a hostile part of Queens where the gangs make the law and the cyclists ride on trainers for their two hour rides. The host housing is a pit, I guess the dude inherited it from gramps and he's planning to remodel it- or something. Nonetheless, the house smells like age, the couch, the dishes, the refrigerator, the washing machine, everything smells moldy and old. But the guy is nice and it’s a place to stay. That night we make plans to go to Manhattan. I wake up the next morning and ride for two hours on the trainer. Then we go to the subway and come out in Manhattan. We walk to the WTO towers. We walk to the statue of liberty. We walk to Times Square. We walk to an Indian restaurant. Then we go back on the subway and go home. Then next day we race and I break my stem. I walk to the bike shop in Brooklyn and by a stem, then I walk back. Plenty of walking.
We drive to Pennsylvania and find that we have not been properly educated yet in the way "They do things in Pennsylvania-" for the Pennsylvanians or the "Dutch" have an extravagant way of doing things. The Penn experience begins when Solomon gives the host guy, whose name is Jay, a call. Solomon tells him that we'll come the next day. This is okay with Jay, who in turn informs Solomon that he and his wife are retired. Jay lets Solomon know that anytime is fine- within reason. They decide on 12:30. I ride early the next day so that I don't have to put up with what may happen trying to ride at Jay's. Sure enough, we get to Jay's and he wants us to follow him as he drives. We do this and it turns out to be a cumbersome mess- Pennsylvanian style. For dinner the menu has either sausage and peppers or sausage and peppers- with juices & white bread. We eat and as we eat there is a certain slurp, smack, slurp ummm coming from Jay. It's hard not to look, but the sight was to! o much to resist. When Jay was done he dipped his white bread in the juices. And when he was done he looked around, as if something was quite amiss and said, "I don't want to tell you how to eat or anything, but if you dip that there bread in the juices, you'll get a little treat. Slurp, emmm, slurp." I guess that's how they do it in Pennsylvania. Solomon, Dan and I, stayed with Jay and his wife (who was normal, believe it or not). We got chile the next night- "I don't know about you, but in Pennsylvania we like to sprinkle "the spices" on the chile- care for some spices? ssllluuurp!" The best experience, however was the scrabble. A Pennsylvanian delight made with the scrap meat that you can find on the floor from last night or in the garbage can. Just scrapple that meat and pad it with some flour stuff and through it in some oil and you to can experience the fine Pennsylvanian delight. Jay thought it was good, and it was, just don't think about from what or from where it came while ! You eat it.
Then we went to Philadelphia and walked around. We also looked at the liberty bell, which resembles a bell, albeit a very special bell. But nonetheless it’s a bell. Then Troy and Anton smoked cigars while eating lunch. I sat down the road and conserved my money and lungs. The three weeks were a fabulous experience.