Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Escalades are practical when you’re so far removed from the effort of living, that you can believe anything." Gnome
I met a young man outside of People's Food yesterday. Grimy, but healthy. Shabby and smiling. He had a total POS single speed bike with bullhorns, one brake, 23mm tires. TT and DT almost paintless from years of scratching. He was standing in the shelter of the canopy to avoid the rain, and nursing the tail end of a doob. He was very interested in my Big Dummy, and I admit I looked to see if my bags had been touched. Asked some very techy questions about frame flex, load capacity, parts availability on the road. He was under the impression I was touring, but I assured him I was just doing a grocery run.
Now this is where it gets interesting. He is from Ontario Canada. He is traveling. Yes, traveling. Not to anywhere. Just traveling. He had no backpack, no spare parts, just a cellphone and cargo pants with some xtra socks. He had wintered in Vermont, doing odd jobs and sleeping in the back of a restaraunt. One day, the weather channel said it would be 30 degrees and sunny. Perfect day to get over the mountain pass. So he just left, and went, and arrived somewhere else. And that led him to here, and tomorrow he will be on his way to Chicago. Why? To check out the bike scene.
I stood in rapt attention, living my own great escape through his words and the animated flash of his face as he told stories from the road. He would hop a train southbound tonight, check out Madison and then head for Chicago. I asked him if he had eaten lately, and his immediate response was "Thanks, but when I need things they show up." Geez. I offered to wrench his bike quick and tighten his chain tension, which he accepted. While I was doing that, I slipped a $20 into his seat bag. I truly dont believe the guy would have taken it. I hope he accepts it in the spirit intended. He put the lust for adventure back into my heart, made me young and brazen for a few minutes as I listened to his exploits and plans. Had I been in a hurry, driving in my insular petroleum conveyence, I would have missed it all. Rock on bicycles, and all who roll with them.

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