After a few long days of tough riding, I was appropriately whooped. When I got into Clifton Forge, I immediately set to work eating, trying to recover from days of serious calorie deficit. I was assuming one of the two pizza places in town would deliver, so I put all of my clothes into the laundry, then called to order a pie. No delivery! Shit. I was starving, no way I could wait for my laundry to finish, but all I had was long underwear and a rain coat. Well, in the war of social decorum versus my hunger, hunger won. It really wasn’t even a war. Or a fight. In fact, I didn’t even think about it for more than a few seconds. On came the long undies, rain coat zipped up tight (pit zips loosie goosie), Crocs on (in full off road mode) and out into the world I went. I got a few looks riding to the pizza place, Vic’s. And a few more inside the pizza place, but I didn’t have two shits to give. The only thing I cared about was getting my food home and eating, probably until I was so full I couldn’t move. First town meal, a large pizza and a salad designed to feed three to four. For one.
Feeling sated, I caught up with friends and family. It was amazing to check in with people again, and talk about my recent adventures. I certainly had some good stories to share! I was planning on getting a good night’s sleep, and setting out sometime mid morning for another day’s riding. After talking on the phone as much as I could handle, I finally nodded off to sleep in my mansion of a hotel.
The next day dawned gray and drizzly, a perfect day to just lay in bed. Unfortunately, I woke up absolutely starving, so immediately had to get up and start looking for food, lest I mistake my wrist for a pork chop. Getting out of bed was a chore. My body was so sore and beat up that I felt like the Tin Man, only if the Tin Man had been left outside for the past decade in the rain to rust. Surely some coffee and milk would lube the system up and get things running again! It quickly became apparent, even if I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself that I was not going anywhere that day. The house was stocked with food, so I had some breakfast, coffee, and relaxed for a bit. Then, I booked the place for another night, and settled into a nice relaxing day. I cleaned up the bike, adjusted the brakes, and tried valiantly, but ultimately, unsuccessfully to reseal my front tire. I no longer believe “Stan” when he says that his sealant will seal up to 1/4″ holes instantly. As I was working, the neighbor, Mike, who looks in on the place for the owners, popped his head over the fence to see how I was getting on. I could barely see his face over the fencing, and I thought I heard a “Howdy ho neighbor!”
Mike was a nice guy, but had an interesting habit of basing all of his directions to places in town around the H&R Block. It seemed to be the center of Clifton Forge for him. Three or four times I asked where places were, and without fail, it began, “Okay, you know where the H&R Block is?” Well, I do now.
The day began to fall into a certain rhythm, which was quite nice.
A guy could get used to that life! After breaking the day’s routine for a bath, I set out for dinner. I noticed when I picked up my pizza the night before that Vic’s had a salad bar. I’ve been known as Big Veg for some time, and never can pass up a salad bar, so back I went. Half a sandwich and five trips to the salad bar later, I was full enough to shove off back towards home. And that’s when things got interesting.
I was wandering around town (it only takes about 3 minutes to wander around town as there’s not much to wander to), taking some pictures of the buildings and streets, when I heard someone shout behind me, “What are you taking so many pictures for?” The tone of the inquiry had a certain malice in it, like the person was angry with me for taking pictures. I turned around to see someone rapidly walking towards me.
“Because”, I responded.
“But why?”, came the reply, the questioner continuing his approach. “Because I want to.” I felt mildly threatened, I didn’t know why this person cared, or was approaching me, and the tone of his questions made me a little nervous. I went into defensive mode.
“I’m just curious why you want to take so many pictures. I saw you earlier taking pictures, and saw you know. There’s nothing wrong with it.” the man said. I relaxed a little bit, and explained that I was traveling through town and wanted to take pictures of some of the buildings and the town. He then launched into a soliloquy on how people in this town don’t like people taking pictures, and how dangerous Clifton Forge is, and how the police would probably start harassing me if I kept taking pictures. I didn’t really buy it, but listened to him talk on and on, nodding my head, interjecting with a joke or statement whenever I could. Finally, when there was a small break in his monologue, I asked if I could take his picture. The reply came quickly, “Hell no!” Fair enough.
New York, as he said he was called, continued to talk to me for quite some time. The tone of the conversation eased, and we talked about the town of Clifton Forge, how he was having a hard time finding decent work, the necessity of having a strong ass to sit on my bike seat all day, and how big my kavs were (all 100% true, I swear). The he started telling me about his dog, a large pit bull that was very protective of New York. He recreated conversations he has had with his dog to me, complete with imitated woofing and barking noises from his dog. This went on for about ten minutes, until I asked again if I could take his picture.
“What do you want to take my picture for anyhow?”, he asked. “So I can show everybody that I met the man, New York in Clifton Forge!”, I replied. Finally, he acquiesced. This guy was a serious character. He then asked me for my contact info. I offered to give him my email address.
“Nah, I don’t have an email. What’s your phone number?”, he asked. Now it was my turn to question his motives. “Why do you want my phone number?”, I asked. “So I can call you and we can talk!” Oh, obviously. Uhhhh, hmmmmm. I was in a bit of a tight spot.
Luckily, as I was struggling for an answer, a policeman pulled up across the street. Real typical, small town cop. Great womb broom. Clearly, New York loved to give this guy shit, as he immediately started heckling him from across the street. He told me he called him Barney Fife, and quickly ran across the street to make fun of this guy some more. Phew, bullet dodged. I went back home, not believing the last 45 minutes were real. But they were. They definitely were.
Thanks for reading, until next time.