Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adventure Cycling headquarters. Continuing to hobo around.

I froze my ass off for most of last night. I tried to acheive maximum insulating coverage from clothing and my sadly gossamer sleeping bag. The temperature only dropped to 42 degrees or so - I should be better equipped. (Or, I could quit being OCD-stupid and open up my emergency bivy / space blanket bag. But that takes work... and perhaps an 'emergency?')

The sun starts to warm the earth around 5:30am. You can feel the effects of the sun on the tent and earth about an hour later. I finally got some awesome sleep when the temperatures got to a cool but comfortable degree. The sleep was heavy; riddled with realistic dreams.

I got up and rolled; muffins in my tear ducts. I am using a heavy bicycle for transportation. I have all of my clothes and sleep-shit in bags that are attached to racks on a heavy bicycle. I also have a lot of food with me. Sometimes it's fun to ride around like that, and sometimes I'm waiting for fun to present itself again. At this stage, I'm kind of spaced out and in a mental state. I'm somewhere to the side of where I suspect reality sits. I am in a plausible parallel beside the strict reality that I was raised to recognize. You could get stuck on this plane of existence, but for now I'm only a visitor. You could continuously take acid or bicycle trips, and permanently alter your mental zipcode. I'm a visitor. I'm just traveling. This, sir - is great for your health.

I magically appeared in Missoula after a shit-fuck of a ride consisting of headwinds and (pretty much unavoidable) interstate riding (with a wide shoulder; still a shit-fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck!)

Then: I arrived at the headquarters of Adventure Cycling! These guys made the route. (The interstate section, however, was my old guidebook's wise choice.)

I was greeted by Greg who showed me where I could park my bicycle in the courtyard. "You have the ticket," he said. Like a moron, I visibly looked for a ticket - probably under the bungee strap holding gear to my front rack, I thought - a synapse in my brain made me accidentally crane my neck slightly around the GPS, guidebook pages and waterbottle cage all bolted to the crunk-o, sawed-off half of a Greg Lemond-era aero bar bolted to my handlebars. It took a split second, but Greg Siple already clarified "...the bicycle."

Greg Siple is a bit of a wingnut, too. I use the term with the highest respect, and I only submit myself to the label humbly. I entered the building where there was someone else to greet me. There is free ice cream and a fridge with cold drinks - every entering cyclist is offered these amenities.

There was a bomb-scare across the street at the federal building. Though the building was evacuated, and a bomb-robot eventually detonated some shit right out front, that's not the part of the day that made much of an impression on me.

As all the cyclists and employees stood out back, I chatted with Greg a couple more times. I didn't mention that I knew quite a bit more about who he was than I was saying.

Two other interesting folks were there. The couple who has the "Path Less Pedaled" blog were there on their new Bromptons. I knew they were in the area, but I was happy and interested to see that we were at the Adventure Cycling headquarters on the same day! I went to meet them in Philadelphia on their last tour, when several readers of this blog told me they'd be in town. I don't know how they got so rich, but they sure as hell can afford to goof around long-term with some expensive equipment. They're about my age, and they're busy fooling around and buying Bromptons. There's some money hiding somewhere. Dude had a SON generator hub on his bicycle in Philly, and that's the first time I've even seen one in person. I support them in spirit, but if there's a gold mine somewhere, then hand me a pick and a spade.

Greg wandered about with his old camera around his neck. We chatted once again as I existed quietly behind an invisible cloud of meek. "I saw the article about the Hemistour in the Rivendell Reader," I finally said. "I tracked down the National Geographic issue with the article. I thought it was pretty cool."

I mentioned that I was excited to read that they had used 26x1 3/8 rims laced to Campy hubs - probably the best choice of the pre-mountain bicycle era, but quite the non-traditional setup for the time. Greg mentioned that his wife June's bicycle from the tour was inside. He grinned and invited me in to check it out.

Greg gave me a sort of personal tour of all the bicycles that were on display throughout the office. Most visitors are not bicycle nerds, and I got the impression that this is not a tour that many people get. But I was lucky because I let it slip that I was highly excited about the aura and actions of this building. "One last bicycle," said Greg. He mentioned about three times that just about nobody saw this bicycle. He led me to the basement. The air was musty, and I could see that it was used for extra-extra storage. He showed me the last bicycle, which was somehow not on display anywhere upstairs. It was Ian Hibell's bicycle that he used to cross the Sahara. I recognized it from photos that I saw after Ian unfortunately got snuffed out in a hit-and-run in Greece in 2008. It was the same custom bicycle, and I recognized it immediately from the brazed-on tube protruding backwards from the seat tube to support a super-strong integral rack that carried a heavy load including lots of water. I exclaimed! I told Greg that it had brightened my day. It had.

I felt aloof and anxious as I left the building. I didn't know where I would sleep. I didn't want to skip past Missoula too soon. It was a big place with a bicycle culture, and I want to avoid feeling remiss. I made a couple calls to warmshowers.org hosts on a list that I printed out before the trip. "Sorry for the last minute contact," I said on my phone message. One guy called back within 20 minutes to kindly offer yard space for my tent. A few other cyclists were already staying there, he said. He welcomed me to join the party.

The three others turned out to be the Clique Of Three who I've run into several times. They're not mean, but they sure aren't nice. I think they might be aliens who keep humans at arm's length to protect their secret identities. It's indeterminable, and I keep to the sidelines.

I bought some beers to make some secret sodas, and then I bought a huge burrito. I was satisfied with this burrito, and happy that it didn't give me buyer's remorse.

Expense report:
$10.40  -  PBJ ingredients, yogurt to mix with oats
$3.15    -  Coffee, pumpkin bread thing, Powerade
$7.80    -  Awesome burrito
$5.20    -  Four, Forty
Total: $26.55 (pushing it...)

2 comments:

gypsybytrade said...

Dude, 26 x 1 3/8 to Campy hubs. The original performance hybrids, born out of necessity. I love 584 and 590, but I am glad to live in a world ripe with 559's. 26 x 1.75 O.D. almost exactly equals 26 x 1 3/8 O.D., just with bigger tires. But you've heard that all before...

Three Speed said...

Haha... Heard it before and saw the scientific breakdown in your notebook. 590mm warms my heart. I swoon. But practicality has me in the 26x1.75 camp with an animated smirk.

Get Eugene A. Sloan's 'Complete Book of All Terrain Bicycles' circa 1985. Picked it up for two quid. Endearing, engauging, and quaintly historically hilarios.