amazing breakfast and send off
This was the best night’s sleep I’ve had. No tossing and turning on an inflated mat. I woke up indoors with the sun shining off the lake, compared to the previous night where I woke up to dogs, Linkin Park, and cows.
I was the early riser this time. I went outside to prepare my bike. I went back in to get some things and found Wanda making breakfast. Blueberry pancakes, sausage, and eggs. Better than sex. I think. I guess. Maybe. What does sex feel like anyways?
I can’t stress enough how grateful I was for the stay at Charles and Wanda’s. It would be missed. Bye blueberry pancakes. Hello rice and beans.
the road to birmingham
We traveled on a few back roads. Today was to be the day I forever curse back roads. The first was Camp Winnataska. If Camp Winnataska was to be a person, it would be that girl in highschool that would lead you on and never give you a kiss. She’d just leave you with a check at Applebee’s for that awesome blossom and chicken tender platter.
Winnataska was down a small hill and then up a huge hill. Down a small hill. Up another needlessly huge incline. Retarded. I thought we were battling physics. How can a hill perpetually climb without us encountering reciprocal decline? Winnataska. The cocktease of Alabama.
leeds, the town of skaters and papers
After Winnataska and losing a lung, we got to a quiet town called Leeds. Eoin wanted to stop at a small gazebo and eat. I glanced over and saw two skateboarders. I thought they’d immediately think we were two gay ugly guys traveling together on stupid bicycles. Fear of ridicule. We pulled over.
As soon as I got off the bike, James, an old-timer of Leeds, took immediate interest. I told him we were off to Mexico, and he said we should go down to the paper. “Leeds needs some good news,” he said. He joked about Charles Barkely being from the town (he got busted for being with a prostitute only a few weeks ago). He again emphasized we should go down to the paper. I hesitated. I can imagine going into the paper saying we are cycling to Mexico. “So? Do you need to use the bathroom?”
We sat down at the gazebo. I introduced myself to the skaters nearby. Their names were Robert and Austin. I tried guessing their ages. Both had baby faces, no older than 14. Robert was 17. Woops. We spoke to them for a few minutes. They also took an interest in us. I did an ollie for them on the skateboard. I was trying to justify myself as cool when in fact I’m an ugly guy in bike clothing. Robert asked us a few questions. Pretty funny conversation:
“So, are you two living separate, or are you married?”
I immediately laughed. Eoin told him we weren’t gay. It was great. My first instinct when pulling up to the gazebo was right. He tried back pedaling because I don’t think that was what he meant. Maybe he did. Living separate. Not sure what that meant.
We asked him how far it was to Birmingham. “On a bicycle? It would probably take a day. You might get there tonight.” We were about a 2 hour ride from Birmingham. Pretty funny.
James came back. He yelled at us that the paper was waiting for us. They wanted to take our picture. Cool. We said goodbye to the skaters and walked down to the paper. They did a small interview. Great motivation for the rest of the day. We cycled away from Leeds happy.
Hey Eoin, how about using the other hand to make the “L” for Leeds. Dumb shit. Awkward hand.
We made our way on to a few back roads again. We were riding through the southern area of Birmingham. We came to a street called Karls Daly. No problem. Looks like a small hill. Eoin had a considerable lead on me. I was tired from the previous street. Karls Daly was yet another tease. It was an incline followed by a flat area. I was looking forward to the flat area. I approached the flat area and looked up. Shit. A 15-minute incline ride. I began the incline from hell. Eoin was still far ahead. I had to zig-zag all over the road. I was cursing out loud, fuming. I was yelling at the road for being a deceiver. After a long, hard ascent, I pedaled up to Eoin.
“I looked back and saw you in the other lane. Pretty funny,” he said.
I muttered, “Yeah, really funny.” I pedaled off still cursing. Fuming. Steam coming out of my ears. Ian wasn’t funny.
the bird and the bridge
One of the highlights and down points of the entire day came within 30 seconds of each other. It was rush hour. We were cycling on a busy road leading up to the interstate. Just a few miles to the hotel where we were meeting Ashley. We were feeling good. This was the home stretch.
Suddenly, I hear a car sitting on its horn behind me. The driver flicks Eoin off and is close to clipping us. The driver passes me and lays on its horn again. I wave, shrugging it off. We’ve gotten it before. However, the Incredible Hulk bursts out of Eoin. He is pissed. I tell him the driver will get stopped by the red light up ahead. He takes off. Uh oh.
The red light is on an incline. Just ahead there is a bridge crossing the interstate. I’m too tired, but it doesn’t stop the Hulk. Eoin stops beside the car and yells, “What the hell?” I hear him asking the driver why she did that. I pull up. I’m too tired to say anything. I want to be angry, but right now I’m just a pathetic wimp out of breath. All I can do is look at her and give her a ‘what the’ gesture.
The driver, a woman in her late 20s, mouths to us, “It’s rush hour.” Then she looks straight ahead. She wasn’t expecting us to pull up to her. I can feel the guilt and embarrassment oozing from her. She is protected by the metal guard up around her. Remove her shield and she’s just another coward with a horn and a middle finger. No backbone. Eoin flicks her off and takes off. I put it in first and tiredly take off. I almost fall over and hit her side mirror. Angry hulk guy and bumbling pathetic tired guy. Really intimidating.
It was a bad experience. We go through the light and pull up on the interstate bridge. I’m trying to catch my breath. Suddenly a small car pulls over in front of us and out pops a tall lanky fellow with a youthful spirit. His name is John Powers. He tells us he tours. “Dude, man, you have to do Spain. Spain. Check it out.” He writes down a few recommendations of tours on some paper. He gives some very encouraging words. Our spirits were lifted again. Wow, our morale went from rags to rich in a matter of seconds. A God send.
a night of normalcy
Eoin and I got to the hotel. We washed up and felt good. Ashley came and brought a few cookies and goodies. I love her. It was great. Tag-a-longs gone in a few seconds. I was giddy to go out with Ashley and tell her about our day. Ugly guy Ryan actually has a pretty girlfriend again.
We dropped Eoin off at the UAB campus in Birmingham. We briefly met Samuel, the gentleman hosting (couch surfing, not escort) Eoin for the night. He recommended Dreamland, a BBQ place that was well known in the parts. Great. We’re off.
I was happy to have sweet tea. It was like a drug. Ashley, being a vegetarian, struggled with the menu. I finally lightened her up. We went to the store and I bought donuts and chips. I consumed about 2,000 calories worth of glazed krullers. I love cycling.