Day 2

I am writing to you from the innards of Mineral's volunteer fire company. I was camping out back of the neighboring Rescue Squad when Charlie, volunteer fireman, told me that there was a small rivalry between the two organizations to see who could be nicer. A warm shower, hot meal, and mild stretch later and I'm ready to cast my vote.

Mineral is a religious town with three churches to its three blocks, and this is Sunday.

There wasn't much traffic when I started out of the RV park. I made my way into the backroads and then made sure I got completely lost. I had the Coast Guard on the line when Benny, a near-messiah in biker's spandex, got my attention and offered to lead the way to Coatsville -- "only we're not using your maps."

Onwards at 16 miles an hour. Over rolling hills and a terrible stretch of up-and-up that the local Methodist church had adopted (I think it is past salvation). He told me about the area and pointed out some interesting bits of local agribusiness. It seems the farmers have banded together in co-ops here too, and good, as everyone wins. I told him "ugh" and "wheeze" and "I swear I'm a good cyclist by New York's standards." Two roads diverged in the middle of the road, and as I took the one that was marked Bikecentennial 76, he pound my fist and told me that he hopes I find what I'm looking for and "fucking do this thing!" Just out of sight, I crumpled to the ground, stuffed a Cliff Bar up my nose, ate a gallon of water and had a nap.

My sleep options were thin today. I could either ride 50 miles or 100. 50 was plenty hard.

Some of the area has been hit hard by the building boom and bust. Huge, ugly, optimistic houses live next to others just like them and wait for equally large families to come in. I contemplated tucking into one and spending the night on the wall-to-wall carpet.

What do you call 4 trucks driving in a row on a Sunday? Church traffic. Sundays do seem to have meaning around these parts. Many streets take the name of the family living on them (Ferguson, Jackson, Applewhite) and houses are either swarmed with cars or left abandoned for other relative's homes, perhaps those with wall-to-wall.

Church traffic made way for jet skis on Lake Anna and jet skis -- which I love despite whatever You say, effete liberal and killjoy inside me, because they are impossibly fun -- well jet skis made way for a game of tag between two 12-year-olds on ATVs and another on a John Deere contraption.

A little ways up the road and I made it here. I grabbed some Gatorade at a local grocer and took notes: often I see crab farms on the front porches; food is as cripplingly expensive as it is in NYC despite being stripped of any nutritive qualities; there are brands of local cigarettes that are, however, quite reasonable. I also saw a man empty out some leftover sardine oil from his pickup window.

I am tired. Tomorrow, go to Trader Joe's, buy one of their salamis and tear off a piece so big you can't open your mouth wide enough to chew it. Then slowly squeeze it down with the roof of your mouth. I'm not going to be so hyperbolic as to say that's all a man needs, but in the moment it felt like it would do.

No comments: