Tuesday, September 18, 2007

hanging up my spandex

So here I am in San Francisco, a day earlier than I had planned.  Don't know how long I'll stay, but certainly long enough to wear flowers in my hair, leave my heart here, sit on the dock of the bay, and drive in my taxi, getting tips and getting stoned (feel free to add any other SF song references you can think of).  

I had planned to blog at least once more before it was all over, some pompous essay in which i'd compare myself to Moses after 40 years of desert walking finally at the foot of the city of Jericho, only to die before he sees what's within the gates.  But it seems the california coast encourages illiteracy because I could not find a single library along the way, and it would be 
silly to write that post now, seeing as I have gotten to set my eyes on the city of SF afterall, without having to dig a single ditch or blow a trumpet.  

The final numbers: 9 days of biking, 794.83 miles.  It seems appropriate that I came to SF on a cross country trip 50 years after Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" which chronicled his own cross country trip to SF.  But instead of granola bars and gas station tap water, he had hard
alcohol and sex.  But otherwise, the similarities are uncanny.  

let me see what is worth sharing since last we spoke...


When I first got that little portable radio, I was so enthralled to hear human voices that it didn't even matter to me what I was listening to: telethons, experimental electronica, the local news in spanish.. with the exception of Dr. Laura, she's too much of a bitch.  But, as expected, I started channel surfing within two days, only to find that in Northern California, country stations have the strongest radio waves.  How quickly i went from saying "I hate country" to yee-hawing out loud, pretending my Trek was a buckin bronco, and yes, even getting a little choked up when Kelly Pickler sang about how she wished her mom was still around to see her wedding.  What can I say?  Country goes great with redwoods.  

When I was a kid, my family would go on these two week vacations every summer, usually involving hundreds of miles driving.  My dad at some point started really liking an AM radio station that played really mellow oldies and American standards, so much so that he started recording the station so we could hear it on these mammoth road trips.  Hours upon hours
listening to America, Bread, Air Supply, England Dan and John Ford Coley, Neil Diamond (not "Kentucky Woman" neil diamond, but "heartlight" neil diamond, which i did hear while biking 
and began imagining I had ET on my Bob trailer floating me over the hills.  this probably makes no sense if you don't know the song, but damn do I love it), Anne Murray, the Carpenters... a 
veritable army of passive, unoffensive soft rock and adult contemporary superstars. 
And i hated it at the time, but you know what?  I can't get enough of that tepid soft rock 
soup now.  I can now understand why abusive parents raise abusive kids.  Thank god my 
dad wasn't an alcoholic.  


In CA, they don't have adorable accents like they do in MN, the kind of accent that always reminds me of Mrs. Poole, the next door neighbor on Hogan's Family.  But I do love their adjectives.  At a rest stop, I met a guy who said he'd seen me riding for a while on Highway 101.  

"you biked from NJ?"
"I've driven cross country, but that's pretty gangsta do to it on bike."
"Yes, well, often times my actions are best described as "gangsta."  Good day, sir."

My west coast friends, is it syntactically correct to use "hella" and "gangsta" together to suggest the penultimate or the superlative?  For example, is it grammitcally correct to say the new neil diamond single is "hella gangsta?"


Ross had suggested I ride down from SF to Houston, TX to see a dear friend, but I think my touring days are over for a while.  i'm perfectly happy on a couch instead of a wet sleeping bag.  After yesterday, I just feel spent.  Nothing left in me.  But that's a good thing, I think.  You can't fill a cup that's already full, right?  I think i'm ready to return to my life, whatever that may be.  


I may continue blogging on this site, albeit without ever using the word "bicycle" again.  Or I may make a new blog and retire this one along with my spandex shorts.  But thanks for all the support and comments... as always, it's good to hear from you.  


Q and A

Q: Is the car driver hitting you from the passenger side? Did this driver aim at you?
A: Mrs. Shu, I do not think the guy driving the Hummer was actively trying to hit me.  I think, as many drivers do, he was just trying to go as fast as possible despite any obstacles, ie, my body.  

Q: Any trouble with fog during the early morning hours?
A: When i left portland, it was a hot day, something in the 90's.  The next day, I made it to the coast and within ten miles of the ocean it suddenly was chilly and difficult to see.  The mornings were the worst for fog; I'd keep my back light on even with the sun out because visibility couldn't have been much better than 20 feet at times.  Also, I didn't bring a tent this time thinking that a reduced load would save me another couple trips to a bike shop.  It worked; i had no bike issues at all, but, unfortunately, instead of being in a nice, dry tent, I slept in my sleeping bag wrapped in a plastic tarp, the type you use to collect leaves.  With the morning fog, I woke up every morning to a wet sleeping bag.  Not pleasant.  

Q: Did you get the H2 owner's information?
A: When i asked the guy for a business card or contact information, he said he didn't have any, like he didn't understand why I wanted it.  Well sir, you hit me with your automobile.  I think it would be wise for me to be able to contact you in case, say, it turns out that the medical community does a study and finds out it's not healthy to get hit by SUVs.  I didn't get the impression that he was trying to weasel out of his responsibility; he was an older gentleman and it just seemed like he had no idea what was going on.  The car was brand new, no license plate, but he did give me his home number which i called a few minutes later to confirm it was real.  For a few miles i was playing with the idea of calling the cops, sueing him for some ridiculous amount of money (he has a H2, he can afford it), and living off the lawsuit money for the rest of my life.  But it seemed less than ethical considering i have absolutely no pain of which to speak.  


Anonymous said...

This is a very beautiful ending to the 2007 spandex journey. Armin, your life is surely rich and beautiful. I wish to be able to follow your blog elsewhere that is if you do not mind when you begin something else. Ross might be correct, it might be worthwhile to take a biking tour to Texas, but I agree that then that would be too much for 2007. Nice that we all have another summer to look forward to, and plan for biking tours for too.

Thank you so very much for letting us follow your journey.

Well deserved couch life after all the damp sleepy bag mornings.

Gratefully for knowing you from your blog,
Mrs. Shu

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Armin, for allowing us to share your journey with you, as Mrs. Shu said above. I do hope you continue to write and share yourself and your journeys with us even after 'hanging up your spandex.' Your posts have been funny, insightful, thoughtful, and very much enjoyable.

It is nice to know that we can all live a little bit in your adventures and be there with you in thought and spirit.

I hope you are resting well...you deserve it. You deserve a lot of peace right now!

I will have that letter for you soon...ty for yours...i've been dealing with some tough issues (tough issues for me, at any rate)... my 12 and 1/2 year old kitty, Jasmine, had to be hospitalized and is now recovering...thank God I did not have to make the hard decision, at least right now. So I've been crying my eyes out for the past week over this tiny, 7 pound Siamese cat, who has never failed to look up at me with her big blue eyes, meow sweetly, and love me more than anyone or anything else could ever do - unconditional love. As Lisa C here says, animals have that ability because God gave them a piece of himself (sob sob sob).

Okay, time to switch topics for my well being, or sort of switch topics...

I hope you are like the Siamese cat in the Incredible Journey and you find your way back to Boston someday (yeah, I know, selfish, on my part...that is why I am not Jasmine!).

Take care, Armin. Hope to hear from you soon. I guess you'll have to write if I ask a question, right?

What was the highlight of your journey and your lowest point?


ate said...

or find your way back to jersey (sorry, pam, way more selfish over here)! we all miss you.

min, it was such a joy to read your blogs, especially the snipets from our childhood. don't deny that you loved thoses cassettes that papa made! anyway, you have a gift for the written word. i'll read anything you pen.

oh, and make room for walking with your baby down the San Francisco Bay and although it's not specific to SF but at least to California, how about even kissing a sunset pig?

we love you! tell tita ellen et al hi from all of us.

kimbell1974 said...

I think you should continue the blog because it's an interesting read and because it always makes me smile, well except when you write about old guys hitting you with their SUVs.

Have you thought about where you're going to live yet? You might get the been there, done that feeling when thinking about returning to Maryland but I would love to be able to drive out to where ever and chill with you for a bit and I can't really do that if you decide to stay on the west coast. Of course then I'd have another reason to head out there and see more of it. Lots o' rambling, anyway, I hope this message finds you in good health, good spirits, and road rash free!

Anonymous said...

"hella gangsta" works. while you're down there, try "hella weak", "hella sick", or "hella nice" on for size.

you should try and preamble it with a "like", e.g. "dude, that's, like, hella wack how that dude hit you"


mattw said...

I'm curious to know how the trailer performed for you. I recently bought the bob ibex (the one with the shock) and love it but am curious to know how it performs over hundreds of miles.