Monday, July 22, 2013

Mr. Miserable

I once rode around Torch Lake crossing the 45 pl over and over

We camped this night on the county fairgrounds near a horse stable

Tried to camp in shade this time
We got an early start on our second day hoping to beat the heat for our ride from Bellaire to Gaylord. For this year's ride, I had been to all the towns at one time or another. This stretch was new to me but it was quite pleasant. Only one tiny town, Alba, was on our path. (Ere I saw Alba) Roads lined with fragrant sweet peas, butterfly weed  (pink versus the orange down here)pine forests, maple forests. More hills but in the cool of the day, more manageable. This trip was surprisingly animal free. We had seen one live turkey and one dead porcupine (yet to see a live one). Later in the week my friend would have a close encounter with a fawn but my typical training ride or runs have much more wildlife. Even later, on my ride home near Cadillac, there were signs for Bear Crossing (town included in next year's ride along with Traverse City and Charlevoix) At noon, according to the local bank thermometer, the temp was 92. We were in no hurry to get to camp. We hunkered down in the very cool (in all senses)Big Buck Brewery for a few hours for lunch and brews. It was less than 2 wobbly miles to the other side of town to the fairgrounds.

We pitched a tent next to the ride's oldest rider, Darwin at 84. I am using his real name as it was so incredibly apt. He is the poster child (well not child) for the benefits of a lifetime of exercise. Flawless skin, no knotty veins or thin skin..just a glow about him. I would have guessed he was in his mid-sixties. His sense of wonder and amusement of what life has to offer has served him well. The small world phenomenon occurred again: he knew the ride director because he worked for her step-dad, she was my neighbor growing up from 5th to 12th grade.

My friend was off getting her daily massage. Showers were in a truck, the very same one that had been in Pennsylvania.. I took mine cold by choice. I took the time to meet my fellow tent neighbors. We have many different stories but what we have in common is the desire to deal gracefully (or at least somewhat gracefully) these obstacles placed before us. We have survived the thunderstorms, tent collapses, strong headwinds, big hills hard on aging bodies, record heat indices (isn't The North supposed to be cool?) with a sense of adventure.

Later we sought air-conditioning in the cool of an ice cream shop. Salted caramel with chocolate covered potato chips sprinkled within and on top:yum. Mr. Miserable sat with us and regaled us with his sad life tales, crappy ex and revengeful in-laws, the women he wants he knows are all bad but he doesn't like good ones, etc. Brain tumor, a dissolving spine, kids poisoned against him. Yet he is just wonderful, can't we see it? He must look 20 years younger as a 26 year old is hitting on him. He could out lift those sissy muscled built by creatine supplements trainer people because he is just that good. I am thinking, give me Darwin any day.

Finally the sun started to set and the cool appeared so we could sleep.

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