Bitten By a Radioactive Bag of Basmati Rice, Its... (USA Day 21)
Just after I’d published yesterday’s blog, the rain vanished and we poked our noses out of the stuffy tent to see a most breath-taking view: clouds of mist rising off an unseen lake and the thick chunks of forest sweating off the day’s rain. All across the back lawns of Senecaville’s Main Street houses, cheeky wisps of firefly flame were rising off the grass and a single bird took his only opportunity to burst out a few bars of its favourite flirt. If it wasn’t for that moment of peace, I doubt we would have slept at all.
Once we’d bedded down, the rain started again, with gusto, and didn’t let up until dawn. It took pity on us at about six, withdrawing for long enough for us to break camp, break fast and break ground on our thirteenth day of riding. In this gloomy weather, with low clouds (or was it just that we were higher up?) and dank air, the state code ‘OH’ that appears after each town felt more like a muttered disappointment. Chandlersville, oh. Claysville, oh. Zanesville, oh. Nevertheless, we powered up and down those rollers, playing a mighty round of ‘Bitten by a Radioactive Fridge’. Some of the stupidest superheroes were Chafe Stevens (AKA ‘The Rub’), a Shakespearean actor with sandpaper hands, Basmati Rice Man, whose love handles dispensed rice, and Playground Patroller who, in a totally non-creepy way, protected the world’s playgrounds with awesome swing-stunts and hunted down helter-skelter-dwelling trolls. If you want the rules to this game, check out my podcast with James Bishop, or there’s something similar under the name Stupid Superheroes in my book.
The rain was heavy, but didn’t last all day. In fact, we’d reached the last town before our destination with so much time to spare that we embedded ourselves in a Steak’n’Shake (guess what they sell) for a good few hours, watching the fathers’ day groups come and go, wiggling life back into our damp toes. Of course, one thing we do GREAT is being late, so it was totally on brand for us to pay up and leave at 4:30, leaving an hour to make the final fifteen miles to our hosts’ place.
Well, fifteen miles was actually twenty-five miles of incessant hills, with a headwind, in inexplicable and sudden heat. We didn’t want to ruin our hosts’ evening, who’d planned a fathers’ day around us being there between 5 and 6, so we panicked slightly and bombed up the roads like we’d heard another bear. As the clock turned 6:30, we turned the final corner to the final road, and discovered it was the steepest of all. Top gear to bottom gear, grinding pedals to squeezing brakes, we pushed until pushing was rude, and only took a moment to admire our location once we’d rolled through the front gates of a perfect, woodland house fluttering with woodpeckers and blue jays, our welcoming hosts having just put on the spaghetti, a fluffy ginger cat, Frisbee, greeting us at the door. The anxiety melted away in a second, replaced by homely warmth and intense hunger, and a bed so soft we felt guilty.