Happy birthday! (and Welcome E.T.)

Today we’re arriving at Devil’s Tower. As anyone who has seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind knows, this is where the aliens landed. If anything like this happens tonight, I’ll try to keep you posted.

It is also my wife’s birthday. Our first date was to see Los Lobos at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Since I’ve already posted links to two Los Lobos songs, she gets this instead:

The first live music I ever saw in a bar was BB King playing with a local pickup band in a club called Dewey’s. I was just 18; it was a school night. That’s another story. For copyright reasons, I am linking to a poster for that night rather than reproducing it here. Tickets were $3.50.

OtisDewey’s was formerly the home of The Factory, which is best known as the club that Otis Redding was going to play in on December 10, 1967. His plane crashed in Lake Monona that afternoon.  My sister was waiting in line to get in when she heard the news. “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” became a posthumous #1 hit. It was his last recording before he died.

The show was to be opened by The Grim Reapers, a precursor to Cheap Trick. The poster was designed by William Barr. If you zoom in, you will see the word “tenderness” in the image on the right. The image was Barr’s attempt to illustrate Otis’s song “Try a Little Tenderness“. The song was actually first recorded in 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra.

(I couldn’t resist linking to both the single version of Otis’ interpretation and a live version. I will restrain myself from another aside about Booker T and the MGs, arguably the best house band around.)

(For another aside, Aretha Franklin recorded this song years before Otis, though he is the one with whom it is identified…only fair, since he wrote “Respect”, which everyone identifies with her.)

Crash, bang, boom

Friday was one of the best and worst days I have ever experienced on a bike.

After the torrential rain of the night before, everything was dry – the driest it has been on this trip. The grass was dry. The tent was dry above and below – usually both the rainfly and the ground cloth are wet when I pack up. There was no sign of the night before.

We started out on a quiet road, slightly downhill, and with a light tailwind. The morning was still cool. We saw deer and pheasants. One deer lay in the grass maybe ten feet off the road and just looked at us as we rode by. About a dozen calves ran alongside us for about a hundred yards  – it looked like they were doing it just for fun.

We stopped at a tiny bar in the middle of nowhere, having covered 40 miles before  9 AM. Coffee and cherry pie, and we were on our way again.

It was now hot and windy. Two miles before lunch I hit a rock and heard a pop and a hiss. My front tire was flat. A quick change and we were in to lunch. Rechecking the pressure with the shop pump, I blew a second tube. After the third one blew, I gave up, we looked at the tire again and found a cut, and it was time for a new tire. Now both tires are new.

We rode in to the “town” of Spotted Horse. Our route planner said he had stopped B0F0185D-8074-4383-BAAB-053E738F3AA6in the bar the day before and they weren’t too friendly. We bought ice cold bottles of water. (I’m not usually a fan of bottled water, but this was a worthy exception.) After we guzzled water the owner brought us a big bowl of sliced watermelon. I guess she just didn’t like Dan.

By now the temperature was in the 90s. Our route was a 103 mile semi-circle, starting north, turning east, then turning south. We turned south into a nasty headwind. Had I been alone, I might have just sat at the side of the road and cried. Instead, we pressed onward, trying to stay cool and hydrated. There was no shade to be found.2714C8A4-951D-4B7B-B3F3-8FF71FA43414

At mile 90 I made the mistake that leads to today’s subhead. I couldn’t find a link to Jessica Harper’s song “Nora’s Room”, which contains the refrain “Crash, bang, crash bang boom/something’s going on in Nora’s room”.

The good news is that helmets are cheap. The bad news is that I needed one. Early in the day, Steve had said he doesn’t ride in pacelines and what should he know. I said the most important thing is not to touch the wheel of the rider in front of you. You will go down hard and the other rider may not even notice.

I can now say that experience proves me right. The good news is that I have very little road rash. The bad news is that that is because I led with my head.

I lay on the shoulder and took a quick inventory, deciding it was okay to sit up. I did another inventory before I stood. I then asked myself orientation questions – I knew the day and date, where I was, where I had started, where I was bound, who I was riding with, where I had stopped and what I had consumed in those places. I decided to get back on my bike.

Someone from the local senior center stopped and offered me a ride in to town. When he said he ran the senior center, he quickly added that he didn’t mean to imply anything. I let him know he was welcome to make the implication, as it is true.

He asked how my bike was. I realized that I am more of a trauma therapist than a bicyclist, as I had not yet cared about the bike. I wanted to make sure the patient was OK. I gave serious thought to accepting the ride, but wanted to get muscles moving again before I stiffened up, finding out what else hurt. Something had to hurt. Bike and rider were okay. We’ll see how the rider feels in the morning.

One of the vans passed us about five miles later, as we made our way through the industrial wasteland of the outskirts of Gillette. I tried to hail them, ready to give up on the day and get a ride to a bike shop for a new helmet.

I couldn’t get their attention and finished the ride. Then I got a new helmet and tried to award the old one (tonight was awards night) to Steve and Kevin, who stuck with me through thick and thin (and even thinner). Instead, it is in the trash.