I dragged myself into the Big Sur restaurant last night, ordered the 14-oz. ribeye, and washed it down with a brownie-whipped cream sundae and lots of water. Fuckdude, Clifbar, Jekyll, and I shared a table.
I wolfed my dinner, saw that it was close to nine, and decided it was time to go to floor. Before leaving, though, I took note of Fireman, M8, and Bluebeard, who were well into their second case of beer, and who didn’t show signs of either drunkenness or stopping.
Fireman reminded me that breakfast burritos would be served at 7:00, and that we were rolling out at 8:15. Jekyll and I had a room with only one bed, so we flipped a candy bar for it. Like last year, when Douggie got the bed, I again wound up with the floor.
This year, though, there was no mattress from a rollaway to lay over the carpet. That bothered me none. I slept on the floor for ten years in Japan, and can sleep anywhere, on any surface. I have to admit, though, that Jekyll’s plush, queen-sized bed looked pretty cozy.
He thew me a couple of pillows, a raggedy afghan blanket, and a green velour coverlet that had about fifty cigarette holes burned through it, presumably to ventilate the awful gas that accompanied the meals there. I spread the blankets out and climbed into the narrow crawl space between the edge of the steel bed frame and the wooden chest.
The second I lay down it hurt like a motherfucker. My rib and hip were still sore from my bike crash of two weeks ago, and the one-eighth inch of industrial carpet was set on top of a concrete slab, which was colder than shit. My legs were about as long as the room, which put my feet right at the crack along the bottom of the door, where freezing night air poured in.
Within seconds Jekyll had drifted into happy sleep and was making sweet cooing baby sleep noises. Worse, he had the room’s tiny wall heater on high, so while the floor was cold enough to flash freeze tuna, the region at bed level was toasty enough to smelt steel.
Ten minutes after lying down I had to pee something fierce, and I never have to get up more than once in the night to pee. The second I tried to stand, the two days of mantouring with hard long finishes made themselves known. Both legs cramped from the simple act of trying to get up off the floor. One knee smacked the steel frame, the other whacked against the concrete floor as I pulled myself erect only to see Jekyll happily sprawled across the top of the bed, so toasty he’d tossed off his blankets.
My pecker was frozen solid, and I didn’t want to turn on the light and wake him, so I tried to hit the bowl in the dark and missed. The hot piss splattered all over my leg and soaked my sweatpants, but I was so cold, and the piss so hot, it was actually a relief–until I went back to floor and the piss cooled. You haven’t done the ManTour, I guess, until you’ve laid on the floor in your own urine.
For the next eight hours I got up every fifteen or twenty minutes, peed somewhere in the vicinity of the toilet, usually on my leg, and went back to floor where I would chatter and twist in pain while waiting for the next big piss and leg cramp. At 5:00 I fell into deep sleep, exhausted and hungry and foul tempered beyond all reason, dreading the 6:30 alarm.
Fortunately I didn’t have to wait that long. At 5:15 there was the crashing sound of breaking glass and a roaring diesel engine. “Fuck it, over to the left!” a guy shouted in an angry roar as an even bigger mash of breaking glass and crushing metal roused me out of floor and back to the can. The garbage truck wake-up call moved down the row of cabins until everyone was up, except Jekyll, who was still purring like a kitten. I didn’t strangle him.
The first morning of ManTour people had been leisurely about getting to breakfast. With two days of hard riding under our belts we were all completely fucking ravenous, and we’d been told that breakfast started at 7:00. The entire tour was waiting at the door at 6:50, banging on the door and screaming for their breakfast burritos.
I sit down and place my order: biscuits with gravy and sausage, oatmeal with fruit and nuts, and huevos rancheros with four eggs. The waiter looks at me. He is a big guy. “You can’t eat all that.”
“Why? Is it that bad?”
“You’re not big enough to eat that. That’s three full breakfasts.”
“Let’s make a deal. I’ll order the food and pay for it, and you bring it.”
A breakfast bowl of oatmeal, a plate of biscuits and gravy, and a four-egg plate of huevos rancheros later, we go outside and get ready to ride.
It’s cold in the Big Sur valley, and straight from the lodge there’s a 4-mile climb back up to the coast. I now know it’s day three. Legs scream. Joints ache. Back creaks. Jalapeño ranchero sauce farts mix with pork gravy and suddenly nothing about ManTour seems like a good idea.
I crest the hill and drop through “La Ventana” and onto the coast road. The weather is perfect. The scenery is beyond any description. However it doesn’t take long for the first casualty of the day to crop up. At the store in Lucia a biker who is riding down from Alaska with his dad and best friend has taken a nasty spill and broken out a few teeth. He’s sitting on the stoop, looking addled and, well, toothless.
I launch with stupid question of the day. “You okay?”
“No I’m weally huwt.”
“Where’s your dad and friend?”
“They weft me and towd me to get a wide wiff one of the constwuction twucks and the wiw pick me up in Cambria.”
“This is your dad and best friend?”
“Okay, dude. Good luck.” Toronto and I look at each other.
“Hate to see his worst friend,” Toronto offers as we ride off.
For fifty miles we pass through one of the most spectacular bike rides on earth. At Ragged Point we regroup and eat lunch. More gorgeous scenery. More poor dietary choices as various mantourists opt for cheeseburgers and milkshakes.
A lovely visitor from Corsica sits on one of the benches as various mantourists practice their high school French on her. “Je m’appelle le Hockey Stick avec vous, vous etes tres beaucoup d’argent ce soir?”
After these and several other attempts at nation building, the lovely tourist’s boyfriend comes back from the burger shack. “Hi,” he says in perfect English. “May I help you?”
Jacques is 6’5″ and built like a small army. “Oh, we were just welcoming your friend to America.”
“She appreciates it, I am sure. Now, if you will excuse us?”
The mantourists excuse the shit out of themselves and go back to their cold cheeseburgers. After lunch we hit the road again and ride uneventfully all the way to Morro Bay. The only notable sight, aside from the colony of fat seals lounging on the beach near Hearst Castle–and bearing an uncanny resemblance to several mantourists when they remove their shirts–was a man walking his dog while riding a bright yellow bike with a monstrous living python wrapped around his neck.
As we approach Morro Bay, Bluebeard takes a flyer for the city limit sign, but is nipped at the line, denying him glory but earning him a beer. At our hotel I’m ecstatic to see that I have a bed. We head for the bar where a nice lady dressed head to toe in orange is sitting next to a woman dressed as a cloud and carrying a spritzer: “I’m cloudy with a chance of showers!” she chirps.
“You have to introduce us to your friend!” The lady points to Bluebeard. “What’s his Halloween costume?” she asks.
“Oh, that’s no costume,” several mantourists chime in. “He’s just crazy.”
I’m fading fast, just as the boys are getting good and warmed up. Tomorrow is 140 grueling miles to the Motel 6 in Carpenteria. I’m already wasted. Time for bed.