By Kevin Boyle
When you bike cross country, you develop certain skills – like adjusting your underwear going downhill at 30 mph. You don’t want to kill the momentum, so you stand on your pedals, do a little twerk, hoping that’ll be enough for the underwear to let loose its chokehold on your nether regions. If the stand-up and twerk show – probably horrifying to passing motorists – doesn’t work, you ride with one hand on the handlebar and one hand free to yank and adjust this, that and the other thing. It’s both an art and gymnastic wonder.
Yeah, the scenery might be breathtaking, but it doesn’t compare to underwear liberation. And for those of you who seek too much information, there is a tradeoff with padded undies. You get more cushion on the cheeks, but necessary adjustments are required more frequently. I did not know this before I pedaled 3,000 miles, and I’m happy now to contribute to the science of undergarmentology.
When I last reported in, we (Rick Horan and I) were struggling through the sameness of Kansas. Things changed quickly in Colorado. Running rivers, the Rockies, Pike’s Freaking Peak, and something called the Loveland Pass were sights and challenges to behold. The Loveland Pass tops out at an elevation of 12,000 feet. There were flurries and temperatures in the 30s as we grinded our way to the top. We weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Once at the peak, we could see forever mountains each crowned in wondrous white. But there’s not much time to linger, because changing weather is a thing up there, so we got on our bikes and started a downhill that went for miles. Soon, I was going so fast I had a different worry about my undies. We wound our way down the highway that cut through evergreen forests past openings that showed deep ravines and valleys.
Just a short time later, we climbed another 10,000 feet on our way to Vail, the famous ski resort town. If you want to visit Europe without flying over the Atlantic, check out Vail. It makes you feel like you’re in the Swiss Alps – but it does make you repeat yourself. You can’t help but say over and over, we’re not in effin’ Kansas anymore.
Speaking of repeating, oh, the knowledge you gain. After some musical notes emanated from my body and continued as a full orchestra for the day, I went googling. Mystery solved: high altitude increases flatulence (note to a local yoga group: it wasn’t the vegan meal that led to all that noise during the group downward dog pose).
After the Rockies, we rolled through more hills in Colorado, and I spotted a wild horse atop a high cliff. It looked like a statue of Secretariat until I shouted up to it, and sure enough, this vision turned to look down at me. Magical. Earlier, I had a pack of alpacas or llamas run and follow me, behind a short fence along the road. Crazy.
Things aren’t all rosy and peachy, Lewis and Clarky, sometimes shitsky happens. Without going into details, although the details are pretty wild, my bike broke down 40 miles from the nearest town. We’d been in a bike shop in Vernal, Utah earlier in the day and were now stranded at a place called the Red Canyon Visitor Center. A stunningly beautiful place I couldn’t enjoy as my broken bike threatened to kill the trip.
I called the bike shop and told the manager where I was and what seemed to be the problem. He said he knew exactly where I was, and he’d be there as soon as he could. He drove 40 (FORTY) miles to come and fix the bike. Forty.
He actually showed up with his fiancé and they both seemed oddly happy. As he was fixing my bike, she said this is where they got engaged. He refused payment, though I did Venmo them an engagement gift.
The bike’s been solid ever since. We’re now in Oregon. Heading to where else? Rockaway Beach.
Gotta sign off now but one last thing: Happy Birthday to The Rockaway Times!