I’m not one for omens, but if I were a superstitious jackass, yesterday’s 105-mile ride from Albany, NY to Ticonderoga would have me scared shitless about my trip.
A few things I learned today on my training ride, which can also just be called a bicycle ride:
1) crackheads don’t always have bike pumps, but when they do, they don’t have presta adaptors
2) rednecks love to make fun of spandex
3) a bug, if it gets into your mouth, will try to make the best of things by exploring your nasal cavity.
4) spraying gatorade in your eye doesn’t hurt as much as I thought. Though this has only been tested with “fierce grape” flavor. Also, “fierce grape” sounds like Lady Gaga and one of the Sunkist raisins had a child.
Now, normally I don’t ask crackheads for anything–and if I did, it would probably be crack-related advice, not bicycle advice–but when you end up with a flat tire in downtown Troy, NY crackheads are really your only choice in terms of an info desk.
View right before I headed into a godda, veritable forest of glass
I pulled off to the side of the road just in time to watch a drug deal go down across the street–and to realize that I’d forgotten my damn frame pump back at the house. I needed a bike shop. Don’t hate on me for being unprepared. This was the dress rehearsal. I wanted to know how far I could go, what tools I might need, and just how much of a forgetful idiot I could be. So in that sense, forgetting my frame pump was actually a ballin success.
When you’re in spandex in the hood your main goal is to make it seem like you did this on purpose. Which is sort of like showing up naked to a funeral and trying to make it seem that Fred would have wanted it this way.
The crackheads knew I didn’t belong, but were at least friendly neighborhood crackheads. First crackhead was sympathetic but unhelpful. Second crackhead offered me his bike pump, but then paused and said “ah, but you have Presta valves–I don’t have the adaptor.” He pointed me up the road to the hardware store.
On the way to the store, two women and a relatively well-dressed man who seemed to be trying to get started on his diabetes fell in step behind me. Mr. Diabetes decided he wanted to start something.
“Oh, look at me, walkin my bike down the street.”
Good observation. I ignored him.
“Wearing some spandex. Faggot.”
Decent observation, incorrect conclusion. I ignored him.
“Looking both ways to cross the street.”
Fuck you. Make fun of my flat tire. Make fun of my spandex. Dabble in homophobia. But mock my dedication to proper road safety? You have just crossed the town line into the pain town, and motherfucker, I’m the goddamn Mayor.
I turned around–ready to get in his face–“At least I can see my dick, asshole” on the tip of my tongue.
The thing about being my size of a person is that my mouth tends to be a hell of a lot bigger than my capacity for violence. Last time I used this line I got chased around downtown Manhattan by a cab driver. Almost got my ass beat that time, and I didn’t have a flat tire blocking my escape. I glared, caught the words in my mouth, and crossed the street. After looking both ways. I’m not an idiot.
Hardware store had the pump, but turns out my spare tire had an even bigger hole in it. Which is a sad, sad moment. I eventually sorted it out, and two and a half hours later was ready to get the fuck out of Troy and get the next 90 miles done.
Of note: Passed a Brazilian guy sitting helplessly on the side of the road. He was more than halfway from New York City to Montreal, and didn’t even know how to change a flat tire.
At least I was more prepared than him.
And finally, what has to be the least interesting historical marker in the world: