Saturday, July 1, 2017

Nebraska Bound Drifter

Not the Nomad of this writing.  A little too urban chic but set up is accurate, inexpensive MTB and trailer.

It all started with a text.  Late June is always the time of year that I cannot focus on work.  Too many things coming up.  Mainly time off of work to spend on the bicycle(s).  So Craig wanted to gather Team Violator (Craig does not know that is what we informally call ourselves) to discuss routes for our annual July bicycle odyssey in Iowa.  For the muggles reading this, Ragbrai.  So for the rest of the work day my attention was focused on maps and measuring distances.

These thoughts and images were still occupying my mind as I rode home.  A few other thoughts did, however, appear from time to time but would quickly be co-opted into the Ragbrai ponderings like how great the weather was riding home.  If only this temperature would be around when we are on that journey.

Then a ragged man on a bicycle was stopped on the trail staring at a sign near the tree that my son once crashed into on the Clive Greenbelt.  I'm sure it said "City of Clive" and contained some other utterly useless information as I have read those little green signs before and found them worthless but his focus was one of a man in search of answers.  Having stopped his rig in the middle of the trail I slowed down and announced my intention of passing through on his left.  Attention from the sign now broken he looked up and asked me if this trail would take him to Nebraska.  Damn, I wish!

He looked like he was in his 60s but he could have been younger than me.  Bronze skin from decades of exposure to the sun, cracked and wrinkled face from what I can only image as a hard working and living life (smokes and booze my evil minded assumptions tell me).  Grungy dirty shorts and shirt covered him.  His bike was a cheap Schwinn dual suspension MTB and it pulled a trailer loaded 4' high with everything he needed including a 5" thick foam pad not unlike the ones used for sofas folded over on top.  Hardly the conveyance that I would use to cross Iowa but then again I am privileged, blessed and lucky despite being chronically broke.

Nebraska!  Now my humanity kicked in out of selfish excitement.  Damn right I can tell you how to ride a bicycle to Nebraska!  I've been staring at a map of Iowa for the past 2 hours!  I've ridden that way many times schelping my shit like a world traveler or refugee.

"Got a map?" I asked him as I was considering giving him mine.  I don't need it anymore.  I have a wasteful gluttonous amount of new and marked on maps at home and at work.  Please take it for this one act will make me feel better about myself.

'I've one but it's hard for me to read it,' implying that he had an eyesight issue.  I saw that he did indeed have a State issue map of Iowa secured to the top of the trailer above the foam pad.  Hope it does not rain and ruin the map he has trouble reading.  I bet he has dealt with rain before.  I really don't think anything could stop him.

"Does this trail go the Nebraska?  I got to stay off the side of interstates.  I've been told to stay off the interstates."

"No but it will get you to a road that will get you there.  Not a freeway.  When you get to Redfield turn south and then turn right at the top of the hill.  That's the White Pole Road (famous Ragbrai tale on this one that I'll share at a later date) and it will take you to Nebraska."  I should have said old highway 6.  He did not open his map so I could show him.

I wanted to take his photo but felt that such action would have been rude.  He then said that the last time he rode through Des Moines the trail he was on turned into rock.  Then something about 'found that out when leaving Tupelo, Mississippi."  Then South Dakota came up.  I told him you could ride on the interstate there.

Nomad.  I wish I would have had a longer conversation with him but pretty soon we'd be swarmed by other cyclists getting their exercise and training on.  Dress like TdF racers and burn off excessive testosterone and wonder why the fat biker is talking to the vagrant.  Someone call the cops.  He had to continue westward and I had to get to my home.  Got to remember things like asking for names, places and reasons.  But then again I treated him dignity and respect.  That was Jesus on that bike.

Not homeless and perhaps a drifter though I have my doubts.  Look at his shoes and bike.  Too nice for life without a permanent roof.

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