Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Snickers, Sixty Miles From Sydney

If you live around Sydney, please ignore my faulty memory. I don't want to google a map and get my facts straight. I don't care if north is really northeast. Or if I am ten miles too long or short in my recollection. I just wanted to tell you of the first day out on my bicycle trip across the eastern Australian coastline.

Sydney to Cooktown, baby. All on two wheels.

My girlfriend at the time was a spunky Japanese girl who followed me out of Tokyo and met me in Thailand and kept me upright and proper and poorly bilingual until we reached Sydney. There, I was to ride a bicycle and she was to take a bus up to Cairns, where we had friends waiting.

She would get there before me.

She would already have a job at a restaurant called Cherry Blossoms as a Japanese waitress.

She would introduce me to many of her friends and I would eat left-over sushi late at night while trying to chat up the sushi chefs and keep them from tossing anything away that wouldn't make it another day. Ahhhh ahhh ahhh, I would say. But that's for another day.

All I wanted to tell you about was the fall I took right around mile fifty, and how I ate a snickers bar while I was still strapped to the pedals of my bike and laying on my side.

I wasn't bleeding. I wasn't injured in any way. I was just resting.

I had no legs at all.

"Here," said Hiroko. "You might need some energee later."

"Ener jee..."



The bike you see is the bike I rode up the coast. I bought two panniers and had a small down bag and a one man tent. A couple of items of clothing. A snickers bar and some granola. A couple of water bottles.

See yas...

I got out of Sydney and then at about forty miles, found myself in some hilly terrain.

I had not trained for this.

In fact, I had just spent nine months in Tokyo being gluttonous and three months on a beach trying to convince myself to swim. I had almost died while trying to retrieve a soccer ball I kicked in the ocean too far, and this helped my arms and cardio some.

But not my chicken legs.

Forty miles out and I should have quit for the day and been quite happy with my first start. My butt was already screaming at the seat I had inserted into it, and my calves were lowing like calves do when boxed into working like pistons without proper planning and testing, and there was a spot between my shoulder blades that felt like a knife was trying to break through bone.

This was going to be fun, I said to myself. Two thousand more miles to go...

After ten miles of hills, I got to a long steep one. I geared down and tried to zone out and just get over it. There was no push left in my legs, and I tried to just spin my way up and over with easy strokes and a very low gear. So low I could have walked up faster. Yes. That low.

Ever exercise to exhaustion and then feel your limb or limbs just detach themselves from your command and float in their own undictated ethereal numbness? They don't even hurt they are so spent. No energy to send signals to the brain. Nothing but a weird glow, you imagine, and disobedience.

My legs got like that. Right at the top of the grade. I mean right at the top. The grade flattened out for quite awhile ahead of me. I had done it. I had made it. I had...

A headwind.

A headwind is fine when you aren't moving at one half a mile an hour and your feet are strapped tightly into your pedals because you wanted to help with your climbing by pulling up as well as pushing down on your pedals and you had tightened them down as tight as you were capable of without bursting a blood vessel in your foot, and the headwind is ten miles an hour or more and you have no legs with which to continue forward progress with.

I had to put on the brakes just to keep from rolling backwards.

I fell over.

My feet were strapped tightly to the pedals and were of no help to me. I was destined to land on my shoulder, which I did. I held my head from cracking open like an egg by holding it straight at all cost (pulling neck muscles a bit, I would find out next morning), and I landed the way I rode, hands on the handle bars, butt on the seat, feet in their straps... except on my side. I could pedal if I wanted to but I didn't want to. I didn't want to move at all.

I was so tired I was just going to stay like this. On my bike, on my side, my head now resting on the drainage curbing. I had no desire to do anything. This was as good as a couch or a bed. Better, in fact, because it was here and I was here. My legs needed to think. My body needed to recalibrate. Recoup. Readjust. Do nothing for a spell.

A car approached from behind. Coming out of Sydney. It was a guy in a convertable. Red, I think.

He saw me laying in a heap on the side of the road. A fallen rider. A lame animal.

He pulled up along side. I didn't move. Too much energy...

"You alright, mate?"

"Just resting".

"Wha? Are you sure?"

"I'm fine. I'm just resting."

"You don't look very bloody comfortable."

"This is exactly where I want to be at this moment in time. I could sleep like this."

"You didn't hit your head, or anything?"

"No, just missed it. I didn't hurt a thing. I'm just knackered. I didn't even know you HAD hills in Australia."

"Well, not many. Are you sure you're alright?"

"Fine. Honest."

"Well, OK then..." He sped off.

And I rested. Ten minutes later, I opened up my front handle bar bag and opened up and consumed a snickers bar.

I've been eating them ever since. Posted by Picasa


Deadpool said...

you rock...and by rock i mean blow.

Tisty said...

A story about chocolate. What a thing to do to a girl at 5am!!!!

CJS said...

wow what fantasy world are you living in, get a life

amusing said...

My ten year old could whip your ass on a bike....

amusing said...

Though the part about falling and keeping your head straight reminds me of being run away with on a horse in Central Park.... Everytime I got him slowed, he'd hear my friend galloping up behind and start up again.... I lost one stirrup and knew I was going to bounce and lose the other in a minute. So I decided I'd just dive off and the horse would probably stop -- it had worked before (yeah, I've come off a few horses....)

But I told myself I needed to jump and roll so I wouldn't end up under the horse's hooves.... So I did.... Excellent job, I must say.

And the horse ran off and out of the park, on his way home -- I think someone nabbed him on the way across 78th street and led him home safely... but I wouldn't know as I'd taken off my helmet and realized, as my hand wandered to my head, that there was something wet on my fingers....

I was bleeding. Scalp lacerations are kind of bloody. I attracted attention. A young medical student and an old WWII nurse got in an argument about whether I should be sitting up or lying down. "Embolism" I heard. "Passing out" I heard.

Eventually the ambulance came and took me to the hospital, where they could not see me right away as they were dealing with the fat woman who didn't know she was pregnant and was having a baby in her pants....

But that's another story...