Monday, July 18, 2016

Bike Talk in St. Louis

I don't know exactly what time we hit the hotel, but it felt reasonable; it definitely wasn't the next morning, at least. I threw my gear in the corner, stripped down to my sports bra and padded shorts, and flopped onto one of the beds. Cider started to remove his shirt, then stopped.

"Augh!" he protested. "Oh god. OW. Fuck." He got the shirt off and put his hands over his sunburn, wincing.

I crossed my arms. "No sympathy here," I said. I plugged my phone into the wall in the hope that it would come back to life, but it got stuck in a boot loop and still refused to take a charge. After a few minutes its constant flashing and vibrating got annoying, so I unplugged it and tossed it in a corner.

Cider disappeared to the ice machine, then returned, poured something into a hotel cup, and sat next to me.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Great, actually," I responded, surprised that that was the answer. "I mean, I'm tired, but...this is amazing. I'm having so much fun. What about you?"

"I'm miserable," he answered. "I hate this."

"Then why do you do it?"

"It's about getting there with the bike," he said. "I just hate doing these long days."

"I thought you liked riding," I said.

"I've been doing this for eleven years," he said.

"Maybe I'll hate it in ten more years, too," I acknowledged.

"There's McGillicuddy's on the desk," he said, and headed off to shower.

"That explains why you're drinking water out of a hotel cup," I said. "Because you're not."

I don't actually like drinking mouthwash, but it was more entertaining than water. I poured myself a drink and picked up my iPod. By the time he returned, I had pried the stubborn device apart with my knife and was poking around the inside. He looked at me askance as I stuck the blade into the hold switch. After a moment I found what I was looking for and released the actual hold switch, which was no longer connected to the button on the outside.

"Fixed," I explained, holding it up. Then I plugged it in and was happy to find that it actually took a charge, which it had refused to do earlier in the day.

"This has been interesting for me," I said, returning to the topic of motorcycling. "Riding with you has pointed out the edges of my skills. I've always ridden either alone or with people about as skilled or less skilled than I am."

"You're doing fine," he said.

"Yeah, I'm keeping up," I said. "But that road to Rye scared the shit outta me."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" he demanded, leaning away like I had told him I'd eaten dog shit.

"Um, no," I said. "I don't do a lot of mountain riding. That was really the outer limit of my skills."

"That was about the slowest I could possibly have done that ride," he said, and it was my turn to raise my eyebrows.

"I see." We ended up agreeing to go ride some twisties near home when we were there again.

"So here's the secret," he said. "That bike can do more than the Vaquero can. So if you see me do something on this bike, you can definitely do it on that one. I mean, the bike will do it."

"That's all I need to know," I said. "I trust you, and the bike."

I went to sleep without finishing my mouthwash, looking forward to riding with music the next day.

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