Thursday, September 9th, 2010
"Everyone knows the white man is crazy" -- Blackfoot proverb
I wake up on fire. It's been nine straight days of fairly hard riding -- averaging about 80 miles per day -- and my body loves it. I can't pack up and eat breakfast fast enough, I want to be on the road 5 minutes ago. When I get like this I'm somewhat out of control. I crave... I crave mountains, sweat, food, sex; I crave exhaustion, an exorcism of this boundless energy that makes me want to jump out of my skin. I'm sure I've got a wild look in my eye today. Apparently bicycle touring isn't always about communing with nature and getting close to Jesus.
I crash my energy against the waves of strenuous climbs that appear on the way to the Maryland border. I wasn't expecting this, I did not have an image of Pennsylvania as a particularly mountainous state. The effort cancels out some of this frenetic vigor.
I cross into Maryland late in the afternoon. At a bike shop in Hancock I get to talking to a few other cyclists who are touring down the C&O Canal. I haven't heard of it before. They say it's a great ride (nice scenery, no cars, free camping) so I plan on checking it out tomorrow. They are staying in a sort of shelter with bunk beds behind the bike shop for $10/night. Why not. Nice to have some company. We go out to dinner down the street. I can't stop undressing the buxom young blond bartender with my eyes, I'm still craving. Crazy white man on a bicycle. I have to console myself with just a huge dinner, however; bunk beds in a shelter behind a bike shop don't make for an ideal bachelor pad.
A guy who was hanging out at the bike shop accompanies us. He's not quite all there, I suspect he's an alcoholic. He certainly drinks like one at dinner. Back at the barracks we are hanging out in the courtyard telling stories for a couple of hours. The drunk starts going on and on about how one of us didn't pay for their bed, how the bike shop is so good to cyclists and how could one of us screw them over, etcetera etcetera... eventually one of the other cyclists tells him to "name names or shut the fuck up". He shuts the fuck up.