I zonked out at 9:30 last night, and fell into an intense heavy sleep. I was up and out and riding along by 7am. I'm definitely starting out with a sore knee in the mornings, but it seems to get better as the day goes on. It can be a little rough on hills. I'm still trying to keep the pace stupid easy most of the time. I don't want to burn out.
Today's cue sheet included a 10+ mile stretch on a paved multi-use path. That includes any use that's not motorized. The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. Very highly recommended. This and the following stretch of roads constitute the best riding on this trip so far. No shirt, helmet strapped to my panniers, iPod turned up, no need for directions. It was a perfect day. The very best part was listening to the new M.I.A. album. The track about how all she wants to do is take my money. The gunshots and ka-chings are beautiful. This song was playing in the coffee shop in Brooklyn. I kinda recognized it, so I asked, and yeah - it turns out I remembered it from Danielle's car. Better yet: it's actually on my iPod. Ka-ching!
I want to explain exactly how thoroughly enjoyable this type of bicycle riding is. This type of scenario is what makes me so excited about the idea of a completed ECGW with no traffic or confusion. I was happy to the point of laughter. This is my maximum happiness. Satisfaction builds up until it boils over, and that happens in the form of spontaneous laughter. I look up at a clear sky and shake my head. How can it be so good? This is God and drugs.
From Southington CT, I broke from the directions to get to my Aunt Gerry's in Meriden. This manuver required calling home so my mom and dad could coordinate efforts at trying to use Google maps to find roads that wouldn't get me killed. This took effort on everyone's part. I arrived without too much difficulty. It was only about 12 miles off the route. I will note that the steep pitch of the hills along this section was awesome. Hills make me cuss and growl, but I usually secretly love it. It's halfway a secret even from myself, if that makes sense. I think of the translated French cycling phrase "taste for the effort" which I read in a Paris Breast Paris account in Bicycle Quarterly - the geekiest and possibly best magazine ever. This phrase screams accuracy. I had a taste for the effort - but that doesn't mean I was riding along in an impressive fashion. I spun up a long steep hill in my lowest gear - spinning somewhat quickly to maintain an approximate walking pace. Fair is fair - at this point I had to lean far forward to keep the front wheel from tipping up. That's a real slope. Then I arrived.
It was afternoon, the sun had recently switched over to a down-moving position. I rode right through the hottest part of the day. I was all toasty and ready to sit. My aunt Gerry is my father's elder by fifteen years. That means that she was born in 1930, give or take a minute. In a way, she raised my father, who by her account was adored by everybody. She's aging now, in pain, on OXYs. She likes to share the most random stories possible. This is a rare opportunity to share time together that is dominated by nothing else - except for constant television. The TV fades from background to foreground with mind twisting waves of my concentration. I'm not adapted to this - I'm buzzing between judge shows, game shows, and wildly random anecdotes. It's great. I found out that my dad was a pistol when he was growing up. At a certain point, Gerry mentioned that Bethany - my cousin - might be working at the pool across the street. This makes me realize that my nuclear family has lost touch with the branches on my dad's side of the family tree. I, personally, specifically have. I have not seen Bethany since she was something like a toddler. Close enough - I don't think we've ever spoken. I couldn't pass this up. I've realized over the past years that it's up to me to make more effort to know my bigger family.
I walked across the street not even knowing what Bethany looks like. Gerry called ahead with a cryptic message letting her know someone was coming over. Bethany looks like her mom. She's 18, and she just graduated high school. This is great because I can relate so well to such a rich transitional time of life. Better yet, Bethany is genuinely cool. We caught up with all kinds of shit. Of course she likes Steinbeck and goes to shows and supports local music. I was absolutely delighted that we were on the same page about so much - superficial, philosophical, otherwise. We got along. After closing the pool, she drove me around to find a GPS. I had fun.
GPS, dude. Why should it be so hard to find a winner? I wanted something with preloaded street maps, moderate battery life, weatherproof. Hell if those attributes exist in a reasonable package. We shopped hard: Target, Best Buy, Circuit City. I started feeling bad about all the running around, but it was definitely cool. I compromised. I got a very small Tomtom - (mostly for carz) - with marginal battery life. I bought the 2-yr replacement plan in case it gets fucked up. I might be too moral or honest, but I considered fucking it up on purpose when I'm done with it and selling the brand new replacement on eBay. Doubt it - but there's options for those who are a little crooked. Bethany invited me to a party for the 4th. I accepted immediately, with no pause. I got back to Aunt Gerry's around 9:30. She was well asleep. What to do? Bar across the street.
The bar was a very unimpressive scene. I was gonna get a couple or few drinks. What a joke. I got drunkish and tired of the tired-ass songs. The jukebox was a limited classic rock graveyard. ie: Journey. Alabama. I slid in some money and bought Dark Side of the Moon in it's entirety. The bar scene didn't change at all, but this went far to take the edge off and make things a little funnier for me.
I was standing outside for some reason I can't remember, and Mary walked up. Mary is Bethany's friend who I met at the pool and didn't mention yet. She showed up at oneish, looking for me. She found me: the bar. I probably mentioned it like I knew I'd be ending up there. We walked for awhile, and to me it seemed more than clear that at least a kiss was scheduled. We talked and sat around, and it was very nice. I got accused of making out with girls in every town I ride a bicycle to. (Jokingly?) That would be quite the fucking magic trick for me. I'm still not completely sure what happened. I'm happy. I want to keep stringing along these wonderful surreal moments.