I started out today with the intention of riding between 40 and 50 miles. Nice and slow and easy; not in a hurry to get anywhere. I’m building up “saddle time.” The more I ride, the more comfortable I’ll be sitting on that damned seat for two months.
Instead, I wound up with 60+ miles today.
I just meandered here and there. Took off on a bike trail I’ve ridden dozens of times, but decided to “go ‘splorin'” on the way back.
It was cool today. The temps as I started were in the low 40s. Never got too much higher than the low 50s. I wore a sweatshirt and was damned glad I did. For awhile I could have used a pair of gloves, but eventually my hands said, “Fuck it, we’re numb and we don’t care any more. Good luck getting your feet to feed you, fat boy.”
Speaking of feeding, one of my favorite meals of all time is Cracker Barrel’s Chicken and Rice. They serve it only on Saturday. Well, it was Saturday:
By the time I reached C. Barrel, I’d ridden 35 miles. I had nothing to eat before I left. I was getting a little jittery. Some day I’m going to get a brain cell or two and remember to pack a few energy bars, fruit, or raw meat in my panniers.
Things I saw:
This thing was in the middle of a . . . tree farm.
There’s a park I’ve known about for years. It’s for flying model aircraft. I’d hit the 50 mile point right about the time I came upon it; it seemed like a good place to take a break. There was a lot of Wilbur and Orville-ing going on.
The planes reminded me of one of my biggest regrets in life. One of the best friends I ever had was a gent I’d met when I was in the Navy. Doyle Uncel.
Doyle and I were forced together by the wives we had at the time. The wives knew each other, decided to go have a Girls’ Night, and thought Doyle and I should go do something together, too. It’s beyond me why the wives didn’t realize that doing what we want by ourselves is a perfectly fine time. But the women insisted Doyle and I talk on the phone and do the, “So, ya wanna get together or what?”
Well, it turned out to be a good thing. We eventually became as close as brothers should be.
(And not above doing shit to one another as brothers do, too. Doyle was an avionics / electrician. I called him once to ask for help in wiring up a mounted lamp. He had me cross two wires that knocked me across the room. As I tried to un-short-circuit my brain, I could hear him cackling on the phone from ten feet away. Sumbitch.)
As life and the Navy has a habit of doing, we got stationed in different towns, acquired different wives, and slowly lost touch. He retired to Florida. The last time I saw him I happened to be across the state from him, but drove the 300 miles or so to spend a couple of days there.
Doyle had gotten into radio model planes over the years. He actually had developed something to do with the engines on the craft that would make them . . . well, better, I guess. I can’t say I understood what he accomplished, but he was excited about it. He’d been approaching some of the “big companies” with his idea. (Thus the association with the model planes today.)
We spoke infrequently from that point forward. In early 2009 I looked him up to give him a call, but he was no longer in Florida.
It’s because he’d died in September 2007. Almost 18 months before. And I didn’t know it.
I beat myself up for . . . well, I guess I’m still beating myself up. How could the best friend I ever had die and I not be close enough to know about it?
I did track down Evelyn, his wife. We talked via Facebook for a few days. She’d moved out to Arizona after Doyle’s death. Said she’d tried to find me when he died, but didn’t know where I was.
I’d like to say that I’m way better at maintaining relationships now, but it wouldn’t be true. My friends bitch about that now. They’ll email me what’s going on in their lives, but I won’t do the same in return. I guess because I don’t want to burden anyone if things are not going to plan and I don’t want to bore ’em if they’re are just ducky.
I find my mind wanders a lot when I’m on the bike.