Ya Can't Get There From Here
Blasting through Daytona in a light summer shower, the Trailer Park Cyclist is a friendly ghost, swooping through low-rent neighborhoods where he fits right in; bedraggled and scraggly and no stranger to the demimonde. He is a soaring spirit, his soul cleansed and cooled by this gentle sweet rain. With a head full of future dreams and a heart heavy with past failings and haunted by late night visitations from fallen family and soldiers of his command, he knows that it isn't all his fault; and yet some of it is his fault and he knows it and as the morning rain soaks into his superheated skin and cools his superheated soul he is lost on a deep ocean of powerful memories; but he is not yet lost; not yet, for the Trailer Park Cyclist is a Master Brinksman. He is old and crafty and he knows where the line is...he has pushed hard and with bad intent in the past and yes, he knows where the line is and where lies the Edge and when to forge ahead and when to grab at the last moment for the salvation of the lifeline.
Besides all that, I have a 7:30 AM appointment next Monday at the VA Clinic (22.2 miles from my trailer) and I am currently painfully and pridefully without an automobile.
“Who cares?” I say, smirking like a maniac and gazing fondly at my 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour.
That's Super with a capitol S and 55 miles and 3.5 hours later here sits I, strong, bold, not haunted nor daunted. I did a practice run this morning, testing two routes to the Clinic. Both are fraught with peril. It can be murky and weird around here just before Sunrise. The local drivers are World Renowned for their faulty driving practices and on Monday mornings they ain't always at peak performance. So I will be wearing reflective clothing and have a rigged up head light and some kind of taillight and if even ONE hungover driver fails to see me I will douse my hair with Trailer Park Special Chain Lube and set my head on fire. That always works and like Richard Pryor once said, “When people see a black man in his underwear running down the street with his head on fire, they get out of the way!”
Uh Oh Toto
But this morning on my dry run I got lost and inexplicably ended up in crack town. Trust me, that is a 24 hour a day enterprise and any scraggly old white bastard pedaling an old ten speed through there is either undercover or shopping. I was neither, (for the record) but there I was anyway, only slightly lost but with strong legs and actually enjoying the experience. Crack dealers are apparently as guilty of profiling as the police are and I was variously whistled at and waved at and knowingly nodded at in a 'come hither' fashion and while I enjoyed my new-found popularity, it was way too early for drug abuse and I had to find that Clinic in a timely fashion in order to properly map my plans for next Monday's predawn excursion.
Then just like that, there it was: the Glorious Governmental Refuge for the Weary of Body and Soul, there it was and I checked my time and miles, marked them down on my two year old piece of scrap paper that somehow magically continues to serve as a place for deep thoughts encountered on my rides; it has my mileage and ride report notes for near on 4000 miles now and has been soaked by rain and once nearly perished when threatened with emergency use in the roadside bushes during an especially overwhelming gastrointestinal emergency. But that scrap of paper is still with me and I made my pertinent notes, glanced scornfully at the gathering morning clouds and started thinking about beer.
No worries there, mates, I know where they keep it throughout my vast rambling realm and it wasn't long before I was guzzling a 24 0z Budweiser at creek side and mashing up some honey-roasted peanuts, staring-down some little bait fish and pondering all manner of things.
By some inadvertent punching of the keyboard one night while in me cups, as they say, I ran across an old girlfriend from those promising post-high school years when I still had hope of the Presidency and if not that, at least the Nobel, the Oscar, or the Pulitzer. Anything but the Trailer Park. But I stumbled across this past love and she has gone on to become a middle level executive at a mid-level organization that does things I can't remember. In high school she was by far the most exotic beauty and clearly the most likely to one day be a femme fatale and she was always just outside my reach. But I hit a stronger stride in my young manhood and while high school was not without its successes, some late-onset physical maturity and a pretty good job and a pocketful of cash brought me some small reward later on. She and I were that sparkling nascent promising couple and it was a rewarding and intense six months, I'll tell ya. But I was only joking about a steady job, my heart was in the Cosmos and I had no intention of succeeding, not in the way she saw it and I was headed elsewhere (which turned out to be Los Angeles) and she had plans that involved cars, clothes, suburban splendor and so on...
But I ran across her trail late one night and she asked me: “Have you aged well?”
That was over three years ago and that not-so-innocent little question started a train of thought that has plagued me continuously ever since. It has caused no end of unsettled rumination on my part and I find it to be a kind of a trick question. Nor have I found the answer. It is a thing that is hard to know and one would have to perhaps seek judgment from a source outside of oneself to get a glimmer of clarity.
In the case of the old girlfriend, I suspect that what she really wanted to know was how my late-onset physical maturity was holding up and I also suspect she would be mildly horrified to see this quasi-fit fifty-six year-old man with too-long hair and a Goodwill personal style blasting around on the wrong side of the tracks in the rain on a Saturday morning, just a little lost, grinning foolishly and waving and nodding at the neighborhood crack dealers and pedaling rapidly and with strong legs, a friendly ghost from her deep past, a haunting memory of how it was before she achieved Cougar Status and how he somehow transcended his fate and magically held the line.
Fish, Beer, Peanuts and Peacocks
I know this: on the way home I stopped to look at fish, eat peanuts and drink beer. I finished that joyful chore and meandered back to the highway, only a handful of miles from my home. As I exited the woods, there they were: the Peacock Peleton zapping by as though shot from a confetti cannon. A 24 oz Budweiser takes up a little gastro space and I was just a little stunned but what the hell? I gave it a push and fell in on the wheel of the last rider, hoping my heavy breathing and burping wouldn't alert him to my presence before my legs loosened up and I hit a stride. It is fun as hell for a constant solo rider like myself to feel the pull of fifteen guys doing 22mph. It is easy and like cheating to keep up and one of these days...
All's Well That Zens Well
The Trailer Park Cyclist is home now, showered and drinking beer and typing. His Little Darlin' is hosed off and wiped down and shiny and that bicycle, at least, has certainly aged well. Those rascally riders pulled in for a break and I wanted to stop and hang out but I am only a friendly ghost, I don't think they would understand and I went on my way, pedaling strong into a very mild headwind. A milder headwind than usual, I think. A trusty bicycle and a light heart are probably hopeful signs of aging well.
The Cosmos is still here and so am I and I don't think this story has an end. There is no end and living in the Now is what they tell us to do but if I don't make plans and take trial runs I might end up in the wrong neighborhood. That's why I do it. That and the fish, beer, peanuts and peacocks.
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Ruminatory
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Ruminatory