I must be stupid

I’m stupid…. at least that’s what I tell myself when I find myself in the middle of something I probably shouldn’t be doing. Or should have thought about before doing or when I agree to do something that most ordinary people with far better sense would never do.

In this particular case, it was a 60 mile bicycle ride. Well, 60.1 mile bike ride.  Yes, I split that hair.

Yes, this is in New Jersey
On this aforementioned 60.1 mile bike ride, I saw stuff. Actual stuff and… stuff induced by delirium. Things that if I were in a car, I would have drove right past and not have seen or given a second thought and let alone a first thought.  So as I took a picture of some miniature horses, I thought “I should start a blog about all the weird crap I see on the road when I ride my bike and when I’m on the Harley”. Why would I think that? Because I see a lot of weird crap out there that most do not believe.  I witness or experience things that grants me weird looks from my friends and family which then leads to me interjecting “No, really, I’m serious”, which is followed immediately by the obligatory “Ahhhh, you’re full of beans”, finalized by the hand wave-off.
I realized that what I need to go into these conversations with is; Evidence. No one believes words, barely pictures, but actual photos I took with my smartphone on my travels. Unaltered in any way, shape or form. “Here, I took this picture while I was riding”.
That is why I elected to start this blog. “Days I Ride” is my very own…”OMG, you gotta see this” to the whole world.
I came across the tiny horses at what would turn out to be the halfway point of my ride. Up until then I had not looked at my bike computer because I had it set to display only cadence and not miles.  I wanted to surprise myself and the only reason I did see my mileage (and I’m glad I did) was that I looked at my smartwatch (yes I’m a techy) and it said 31.6 miles.  Uh, wait… what?  Crap, I better head back.  Now a cyclist will generally NOT want to turn around and go back the way they came. A cyclist will want to do a “loop” because it will feel more like we have gone somewhere with a plan. Turning around going back the same way might be viewed as though we rode somewhere and gave up, turned around and came back.  Since I had been heading in a Northwesterly direction, I thought it best to head east to the ocean and then turn south to my home. Based on my current location, “East” was vague. Most of the roads headed northeast, north, south or back the way I came and that wasn’t going to happen. My ride with a “plan” turned into a “Meander” as I zig-zagged to the coast in Monmouth County. I set my waypoint to be Manasquan and at the moment I was somewhere in Freehold Township. This was going to be a long ride.
Sod and Box farm
I passed a Sod Farm… who knew right? There are farms for growing Sod. I mean I’ve known for years but how many people know?  But anyway, as I was passing this farm, I see a box in the field and I wonder two things: How long has it been there and how long will it be there? Which of course led to follow up questions like: How did it get there and do the owners of the property know it’s there?
While I stood there taking the picture of the box in the field, cars just whizzed by oblivious to the box in the field. And the whole time, not more than three feet away from me sat a lone sneaker laying on its side. A couple feet away from the sneaker was a half of a bungee cord and a foot away from that was a 4 inch rusty bolt.  Now I don’t know what the chain of events were that led up to that combination of items on the side of the road, but somewhere there is a man with one shoe who is missing his cargo off his now falling apart vehicle.
Taking a break outside a little church
Convinced that the box in the field will be fine and eventually succumb to the elements or a Sod Farmers environment responsibility to recycling, I shoved off.  I was feeling pretty good, not riding along at Tour de France pace but I was comfortable and moving at a good clip. Seeing a road I had never been on, and consulting my GPS, I turned right and then decided to take a short break in the shade at a small church, 40 miles in. As I sat on the grass along their parking lot, drinking my smart water, eating an energy bar, I took my cycling shoes off to cool off now throbbing feet. As I sat there I observed a pair of very large scissors with red plastic handles, sitting open, in the middle of the driveway.  They were starting to rust, so I imagine they had been there for quite some time. Two thoughts; A. They could have and can puncture a tire easily. B. Nobody saw them sitting there or thought to pick them up? I find “B” rather unlikely and decided it was the result of a society gone lazy and adopting the “Not my job” mentality.  I walked over to them in my stocking feet, opened and closed them like you do a few times and put them down on the curb next to the walkway to the church door.  I suspect someone WILL see them now and hopefully bring them inside. Imagine my disappointment if I were to return to that church in a week or two and found they were still there.  Note to self: Bring a length of duct tape to tape scissors to door of church.  Moving on.
I only wish….
Many of these roads I have been riding are great if you are in the drive lane.  If you ride the white line along the edge or on the shoulder like I and most cyclist do, it’s another story.  New Jersey’s idea of  “Road Improvement” is a shovel full of hot asphalt dumped into a hole and then patted down with said shovel. So you can imagine that the presence of gravel and edge-of-road debris doesn’t qualify for needed attention by any road department. So while I was dodging and weaving around the “road improvements” I spotted this 1956 Thunderbird for sale.  I love old cars, especially old T-birds (I owned a 1965 at one point). I got the impression it was moved out of storage (the barn next to it) a few weeks ago.  It had evidence of being outside and it hadn’t looked like it moved for a while. Curious, I looked at the “For Sale” sign, which is beginning to fade. There was a phone number and another number, $29,500. Yeah, that’s about right.  There were some farmers near that barn and I called out to them to ask the year.  They ignored me or pretended not to hear.  So after further investigation I determined it was indeed a ’56.  45 miles.
Consulting the GPS map and my watch I determined it was best if I avoided the obvious route and took the side roads to bypass the worse of the improved roads. This led to some really nice shaded and scenic roadways as I got nearer my waypoint. I thought to myself that I must remember these roads for when I am on the Harley. Smooth tarmac and shaded lanes are a blessing for the motorcyclist who sits upon an Easy-Bake Oven. As I passed what used to be a tired old golf course I noted how it became the posh country club off the beaten path. You go people chasing that little white ball. And not more than 2 miles away I passed by a tired old airport that still operates but, is well past the time where it was beginning to show its age. The Monmouth Executive Airport has a title that gleams wonderful things and yet is in need of serious attention and revamping. A turd in a hot dog bun with all the trimmings is still a turd in a hot dog bun.
Not that Toys R Us guy
I headed east and crossed over Route 34 and knew that if I just went the way I would ordinarily go, I would be home in less than 10 miles.  I’m not that smart apparently. And before I could go any further I was blinded by the sight of a life sized multi-colored Giraffe at a small pitch and putt golf course.  I don’t know why one would feel the need to do this or what its purpose is but I just thought it one of those oddities that brings me back to the days when things like this on roadsides was very common.  Be it a large ball of twine, a 40 foot cowboy or a giant rocking chair, I suppose the multi colored Giraffe has found it’s place and will likely end up in that “Weird NJ” magazine.

A few questionable turns, several pothole leaps and Gatorade refill at a very questionable convenience store, I reached my waypoint in Manasquan. Now during this whole journey, I had a headwind while I was going Northwest, I had a head wind while I was heading east and now that I am headed south, you guessed it, I have a headwind. It is also at this point along my ride that I am starting to feel the ride.  I know that I am within 10 miles of home, I know what roads I have to take to make the route as short, but enjoyable as possible. But I am really “feeling” the ride at this point and my pace isn’t as brisk as it was earlier.

I crossed the Manasquan River and saw three paddle boarders lazily making their way into the headwind. I thought “How cool” and then I thought “They must be tired” and I felt their ache through my own aching muscles.
Through the center of Point Pleasant Beach, it was quiet. All the tourists, “Bennies” as we call them, were out of town and on their way home to the crowded areas of north Jersey, New York or parts west near Philly.  So I rode in the drivelane through town and the locals having a cup of coffee outside a little coffee shop.  From here it was 8 miles to home.
Begin the home stretch
Bungee cords. I made a decision to start collecting all the bungee cords I see on the side of the road when I ride.  I figure in 3 or 4 years I will be able to open the worlds largest Bungee Cord store.  Theoretically, I could be a millionaire just off of  the sale of these lost and forgotten rubber stretchy things. I laugh at the thought of someone driving their car and out of nowhere a bungee chord strikes their windshield and slowly slips off like a dead snake. I chucked over that for a few miles.  Then I came to this bridge on Beaver Dam Road on the border of Point Pleasant and Brick. It is at this point I say to myself, “Three miles to go, the home stretch”.
Think of nothing. Now from that nothing subtract more nothing.  That is what I had left in me to complete this adventure. However not all is hopeless. Oddly enough, the headwind that had been plaguing me the entire ride miraculously turned into a tail wind.  I settled into a methodical rhythm of circles. Yes, pedal in circles, try it. You’ll notice the difference.  Eventually, I reached my street and let out the biggest sigh and road past my house. It’s a thing. You don’t just pull into your driveway, get off the bike and “Honey I’m home”.  You don’t do that. You ride past, shut off all the data gathering devices, gear down and spin it off. Consume the last few drops of whatever liquid you have left, then and only then can you turn into your driveway and dismount.
I walked in the house with my bike and as I stepped into the cool air conditioning I was greeted by my 3 dogs. Gypsy always brings us something when we come in, be it a hair tie, piece of paper, sock or, in this case, a squeaky toy. Sadie, the Sheltie and Roxie, the big galoot, were there as well just happy to see me. I took the toy from Gypsy, scratched her head and looked at the toy.  I haven’t seen one of these on one of my rides. But, you never know.  I’m sure that somewhere out there is a lonely abandoned squeaky toy waiting to be discovered by some wayward cyclist or motorcycle rider like me.
I guess I’ll find out on the days I ride.


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