I realized last night, curled up next to a cozy heater with a tummy full of pork chops that there was nooooo way I was going to hold my current average of 68 miles/day. My riding buddy, Jared, simply needed to sleep a few hours and bam! He was good as new.
Me? I feel like a worn out old shoe, and the thought of seven hours every single day, with temps dropping, sunlight dwindling, and motivation dissipating is a homemade recipe for an Ainthappenin cake topped with Brokedick frosting. So in the words of Chaucer, “To shapen that they shal not dye/ He wol his first purpos modifye.” In other words, change it up to save your rear.
Instead of trying to hack out 70 miles to Lordsburg, I targeted 40 to Duncan. Just leaving an hour later felt better, and once the pedaling began I was patting myself on the back for realizing that less exhaustion is more fun.
This part of Arizona must be EZ-Bake hell in the summer, but this time of year it is peerless. The skies are so blue, and today for the first time there were puffy, white clouds scudding across the horizon. I’m not sure how one scuds but that is clearly what they were doing because, cliche. It was chilly of course, in the low 50s, but that was as nothing with a bit of warm clothing, most of which I soon shed.
Perhaps the most beautiful thing of all was Juanita’s Fast Mexican Food in Duncan, owned by a corpulent white dude who I met in the restaurant. I guess “Juanita” is how you say “Fat Merle” in Spanish. Before hitting Merle-ita’s I had stopped at a gas station to ask a cop about camping in the park, which he said I could, but only after paying the $0 fee, which I gladly did.
“There’s a crapper but you may not have any toilet paper there,” he warned.
“That’s why providence gave me running water and a left hand,” I said. He thought that was hilarious so I didn’t bother to tell him I was serious. “Say, how is Juanita’s over yonder?”
“It ain’t bad but it is pretty spendy. But everywhere else is shut so that’s all there is.”
Once I got seated at Merle-ita’s I checked my phone. Jared had been there half an hour earlier. “Get the fried jumbo burrito,” he texted, so I did.
It was indeed jumbo and the tortilla was indeed fried but I don’t think it was spendy, as it cost $6.50 including a basket of tortilla chips soaked in enough hot oil to repel an assault on a castle wall.
The day was still young and my riding was done so I went back to the gas station, got eggs, cheese, and milk, and went a hundred yards up the road to set up camp. First I detoured to the toilet and the deputy wasn’t kidding about the State of the Toilets. It looked like they had been holding the national annual Let’s Shit Everywhere Celebration right there in downtown Duncan. I never thought I would see a crime scene more dastardly than a bike race port-o-potty, but the felonies committed there would have made Chris Lotts blush.
I got situated and a semi-homeless guy named Shane wandered over. We struck up a conversation and he said about a half-dozen things that didn’t add up, except the one that always does: he had been in prison and he was broke and down on his luck, but like a lot of his ilk he was nonetheless cheery and chatty. I wondered how you could be cheery when it was about to drop into the 20s and you were dressed thin and scrounging for a place to sleep. When I offered him ten bucks he froze. “Really?”
“Sure.” And I told him about the people who were now sending me money via PayPal to hand out to those in need.
“Well I’ll be goddamned,” he said. “Those are some good people.”
“Yes, they are.”
“You are, too, pal, for riding around on that damned bike and passing out the Monopoly money.”
“That’s the easy part, Shane.”
Because it is.