Monday, June 15, 2015

Two Wheels to Hell: Part 2


PART II

I'm going to wrap this story up. This journey had almost nothing to do with scenery or people so look elsewhere for those details. It was a test of endurance and my will power to meet the wind head on. The landscape was irrelevant.

I remember lighting fires; I remember sitting by 'em;
  I remember seeing faces, hearing voices, through the smoke;
I remember they were fancy -- for I threw a stone to try 'em.
  "Something lost behind the Ranges" was the only word they spoke.

- Kipling. "The Explorer"
 
 

The madness was only beginning. I remained in St. Paul for a week or two, always thinking about the winter approaching Wyoming and the Sierras. I slowly recovered use of my arms and legs. The soreness and lack of agility would take 5 years to recover from but in the two weeks off the bike I managed to walk, to support my weight with my arms, to open and close my fists. A doctor would've told me that I had narrowly avoided permanent joint damage. "You're lucky to be alive," he'd probably say. But I didn't see a doctor and considered my partial recovery a sign that I would indeed arrive at my destination before winter.  No sooner had I regained the ability to walk I returned to the road. My friend had been unable to convince me to postpone the journey until I fully recovered. I wanted to prove to the wind that I could take the worst it could dish out. The rain never stopped but I had washed my clothes. Dried out my gear. I've seen other bike touring rigs and most weigh less than mine, but not by much. I had 75 pounds but most of that weight was water.

For other equipment I had the following:

1 wool sweater

1 polypropylene shirt

1 polypropylene pants

1 fleece pants

3 wool socks

1 rolled up backpack

tent

tarp

sleeping pad

some other various items.




I basically had the essentials and if I got rid of anything then I would have to immediately replace it or else freeze at night. The problem was the wind. The wind. The wind. The problem was not the weight of my equipment. I didn't have more than any solo tour would have. A team can split up the common equipment so one person carries less weight, but I don’t think that was the problem. No, the bike could’ve been empty and that constant, bitter west wind would’ve crippled me. In fact, I had a hard time pedaling downhill. Wind is the enemy of a west bound bicyclist and I don’t care how much equipment he carries. I could not surrender; I refused to surrender. Voices whispered of the land beyond the ranges, something lost, something waiting without a name, waiting for me to name it one way or another. And the wind was the gate keeper so I crouched even lower on the bike and pressed on through Minnesota, rain so terrible cars were pulling over for their own safety. Visibility was 50 yards and I'm pedaling through this waterfall for hours, creeping slowly because I couldn't see what I was about to run over. My whole world became a 3 ft. oval that surrounded the bicycle as water dripped off my helmet and was blown into my eyes by the unrelenting wind. I was equally unrelenting through the rest of Minnesota and crossed without much fanfare into South Dakota.

South Dakota is 95% flat grassland so the wind slammed into me unhindered by trees or hills. There was a slight downgrade to the Missouri River but I still struggled against the wind and rain. Sometime the rain would become moderate but I didn't see the sun in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and now South Dakota. There was a period of time in the early morning and the late evening when the wind was tolerable. The rest of the day the wind was strong enough to keep clothes drying on clotheslines on the prairie straight out like a flag. Perfect weather to fly a kite or increase lift in early aviation. But brutal weather to ride a bicycle in. Actually, I would ordinarily not ride a bicycle in such weather. I would sleep late. Read a book. I would not ride a bicycle unless I had 2000+ miles and two mountain ranges to cross. The logistics of getting out of the mountains and coasting down the slope to the Pacific ocean before October, while sacrificing blood and sweat for 15 miles a day, wore on me. How early did winter close those roads? I simply pedaled all day to get there as fast as possible.
 
South Dakota looks like this leading down to the Missouri River and the wind blows non-stop from the west.
Detours are easy to avoid in the prairie states because the roads are direct routes. I aimed for Pierre, at which point the grade slowly started to climb away from the Missouri River. A slight decline on a fully loaded bicycle makes little difference when the wind is always blowing in one's face. But a slight incline when heading into the wind on a fully loaded bicycle makes a hard slog almost impossible. There were no trees, no hills, no buildings, not even telephone poles, nothing to hinder the wind from slamming into me from the moment I woke up. Every once in a while I'd see lawn furniture blow past me. Trucks could not travel empty or else they blow over on their side. The wind speed was averaging 40 mph and I had to wear a coat not so much to stay warm but to block the wind from my face so I could inhale and exhale. 

I did hear a few jokes such as. "The wind doesn't blow in South Dakota, Minnesota Sucks." 

When the power company puts up wind turbines the locals say, "Politicians wasting money again. Ain't it windy enough without those things?"
 or
"It's so windy the chicken laid the same egg three times."
 or 
"It's so windy that Oggy ruined his spine bicycling through it."
haha.

West on 14 from Pierre I turned south to visit the Badlands and I remember I was 32 miles from the town called Midland, South Dakota and even though I was going south, the wind still hindered me terribly. There was a slight decline so I could see the town of Midland for three days before I arrived. It became a Sisyphean trial where the destination seemed to never get closer. I really was averaging 10 miles a day and if felt like I would never get out of South Dakota. Every inch required agonizing effort. I think there's another joke like, "I watched my son run away from home for three days." It was really true in the stretch to Midland. I collapsed again and for the first time in 2 months took a "health" day where I did nothing but sit and listen to the wind whip the tent. I had more or less relapsed to the same pitiful condition I had been in before I reached St. Paul. I couldn't get off the bike without falling, I couldn't support my own weight, I couldn't straighten my back or get my hands to relax. And now I had absolutely no allies between Midland, South Dakota and San Francisco. I was on my own.

The voices in the smoke continued to whisper about the land beyond the ranges so I didn't rest long in Midland. I pressed on and entered the teeth of the worst storm of the whole summer, hail, utter chaos, maybe tornadoes, rain, wind. Cars pulled over as it was impossible to see. I finally put my thumb out as I pedaled because the prairie all around me was filling up with water like a bathtub. My tent could keep the water out when it fell from above but it was not designed to be buoyant. Fortunately, someone with a pickup truck pulled over and let me throw the bike in the back. I'd resisted hitchhiking up to that point but I figured if someone would let me ride with them and get out of that tempest then it was meant to be. He drove me to the Badlands exit and the hurricane force winds had eased so I was able to pedal into the National Park.
Badlands, but a bicyclist might call it "Worselands" because there's no good land in South Dakota to bike in

The Badlands is a real geologic wonder in the middle of all that barren prairie. It's basically sedimentary clay that ran off ancient mountains, maybe the Black Hills, as they eroded. Then this compacted stretch of clays started to erode and you have something that looks like small hills but the hills are merely the resistant areas of clay. I had one special night in the Badlands where I hauled my bicycle up one of these buttes and camped on the peak in my tent as a fierce lightning storm swept through. The sharp colors left behind in the morning sunrise were almost worth suffering for months to get there.

I rode from there to Wall, South Dakota, which is a fake "old west" type tourist attraction with signs for hundreds of miles in each direction for WALL DRUG. It's really nothing to celebrate but you either need gas or water or a reason to stretch your legs at this point in this awful drive across South Dakota so that's why people stop there. Oddly, they built a chapel based on the chapel at the New Melleray Trappist Abbey in Iowa, which is the exact monastery I stayed at two years earlier during a spiritual crisis. Why Trappist monasteries influenced this gaudy tourist trap in the middle of nowhere is a question above my pay grade. 
maybe one day I'll play that organ
Trappism and Simplicity are far from one's mind in Wall Drug but their chapel is inspired by a place where Trappist Monks sing Latin chants to God at 3am.

I continued to the large city of Rapid City, the gateway to The Black Hills where some of the largest graffiti exists in the form of the heads of huge dead hegemonic mass murderers. Of course it rained the entire time and one storm came on so swiftly as I was preparing to start the sharp climb into the black hills that I had to hurry and pitch my tent on the shoulder of the road. I heard odd sounds all night and thought my sanity might be cracking further. But when I awoke I was flanked on one side Giraffes, hippos and a tree full of excited chimpanzees swinging in a tree. It took me a minute to realize I had camped on the fenceline of the Rapid City Safari Park. It's now a bear country so it seems they replaced the monkeys but I remember being mocked by monkeys as I prepared to bicycle to Mt. Rushmore.

Climbing the Black Hills on a bike was a trial. These are very steep and the shoulders are narrow so I couldn't zig zag up. I believe I ended up walking some of the way because it was too steep. I saw Mt. Rushmore and read about the Crazy Horse monument that had begun decades earlier. Then I parked the bike and hiked to the top of Harney Peak. Actually, I experienced some of the fiercest wind on the top of that mountain because I remember hearing trees crashing all around my tent, big Pine trees bowing and breaking in the high wind from the West and I feared for my life so I broke camp by headlamp and hiked down the hill. I'm not even sure I had a camping permit. The wind flattened my tent and the tent poles still have a kink in them because of that night. Nothing fell on the tent but the wind bent the aluminum.

This wasn't enough to make me surrender but the story I still tell when people ask me about this tour followed the Harney Peak incident when I was rolling down a moderate decline into the small town of Custer, named after the murderous man who died at the Battle of Little Big Horn a bit to the northwest in Montana. The wind swept up the hill with such force that although I was pedaling downhill with gravity in my favor and although I was pushing with all my might I could not keep the bicycle moving downhill. The wind simply turned me sideways and then knocked me down. The heartbreak and sense of defeat I felt can not be overemphasized. Not only was any kind of abrupt movement especially painful to my sore back and torn legs and tortured shoulders, but the recognition that the wind had finally beaten me was a grave one. Sand and dust whipped my face until the gust subsided and I coasted into Custer. 
Custer: Where The Prairies become The West!

I actually arrived in Custer on July 4th so I watched fireworks explode in the relatively dry night. Weather fronts seemed to bypass this are because of the altitude so it was slightly drier, gigantic pines and pristine rock formations jutted out everywhere. It's very photogenic. I think I left NH in late May. I can't be sure. But I'd only been pedaling for about 2 months. Maybe a little more than 2 months. I coasted down all that delicious altitude, not even breaking a sweat for 20+ miles. The trees provided a break from the wind and for the first time in weeks I broke 20 miles in a day, rolling triumphantly into Wyoming.

I had never been in Wyoming at that time so it was a great boost in my spirit to finally reach it, to smell it and lay hands on its soil. This was my ultimate goal: to meet the world on its own terms, not to manipulate it or to fight with it (that would come later) but to first see it for myself, to know it intimately. 

The wind continued without pause:


I bet they welded that chain in that position, but it's not far from the truth.
 All the wind came from the Rocky Mountains, sweeping cold from the peaks down across the Bison prairie and into Oggy's face. I passed through a desolate, forsaken place called The Thunder Basin Grasslands and it lived up to it's name on all accounts during one memorable incident: One afternoon found me utterly alone on the grasslands and fighting hard against the miserable wind. The land is not as flat as, say, South Dakota prairie, as a few hills start to break up the monotony. Far in the distance were the Rocky Mountains but I could not yet see them. But when I looked in the distance I saw darkness deeper than what I was accustomed to. It was a cloud front that was almost purple. And the wind stirred in strange circles, sometimes even coming from the East as though this approaching storm were sucking everything toward it. When the wind changed again to blow from the West I could actually smell trouble in the distinct aroma. This was to be no normal storm with hail and rain and fierce winds, this was something a category above that and I needed to find shelter.
Real easy to find shelter here.
I was stuck far from any civilization and the clouds boiled before me, stoked by some wicked master, impenetrable, loathsome. My tent and myself would be carried back to South Dakota during a tornado if my guess was correct and the one thing I dreaded more than death was having to bicycle the distance from Rapid City to the Thunder Basic Grassland again. I needed shelter and scanned the horizon. The storm approached and I could not see one vehicle in all the land, not one house, not one tree, nothing to help me. But as I continued to pedal I crested a small rise and there to my left was an old grain silo. Ah! Salvation. There was a barbed wire fence between us but I managed to drag everything under the fence and sped to the silo as fast as my crippled knees could carry me. It was really a matter of minutes until the full force of the storm struck so I acted with urgency. I reached the silo and it was rusted and abandoned but the roof was secure at least. There were holes in the side and the door didn't close but it was safer than dealing with the storm. I loaded everything into the silo though the door frame was about 3 ft off the ground. I picked it all up and had everything inside as the storm arrived with bitter cold and hail and violent winds.

This was mid July and ordinarily I was warm from so much exercise but as soon as that storm hit the temperature plummeted. Hail began to strike the metal roof with explosions. I was freezing! I put on my sweater. Still freezing. I put on my coat. Freezing. I wrapped myself in my damp sleeping bag. Still freezing. The sleeping bag was a summer weight bag and had been adequate but now I was shivering as the whole silo prepared to be launched by the wind like Dorothy's house. I'm sure a tornado existed somewhere in that maelstrom but I had the door wired shut so I couldn't confirm that suspicion. The temperature continued to fall until in an act of desperation I gathered a pile of wheat and corn chaff (old corn cobs in the silo) and tucked some paper in the open spaces and lit a match to it. It was desperation, mind you, because I was shivering and felt that if the temperature dropped further then I would be too cold to build the fire. It takes dexterity to strike a match and in Alaska I'd reached the point where I could see the match in my fingers but not feel it. That's a horrible situation and I thought if I built the fire first, then it would be easier to keep it burning. Well, in theory, that's the right thing to do, but in this particular scenario the result was not what I wanted. See, the fire burst to life. The wheat chaff burned. The paper burned. The corn cobs burned....and it was a nice small fire that helped bring the feeling back to my hands. The smoke went up and around in the breeze coming through the holes. Then a huge gust of wind broke the wire that I had used to tie the door shut, the door burst open like it had been kicked in, I was huddled over the fire and turned as the demon wind lashed through the open door, whistling an evil pitch. This wind, like a vindictive enemy, proceeded to pick up the fire and put it airborne about eye level. The whole fire went from a neat little mound of flame in the middle of the silo to a shower of sparks swirling around my face. I was surrounded by sparks and flame, spinning mercilessly around the inside of this grain silo. Outside the hail pelted the scene relentlessly. There was nowhere I could go, nothing I could do except close the door and guard my possessions as a rain of fire fell on everything. I think back on this episode and a Hollywood director would die to recreate it. It's like a recipe for a horror movie. What's the most creative way we can have this kid die? How about he lights a fire to stay warm in a grain silo and the wind picks the fire up and immolates him? Yeah! It's visual, gruesome. His screams will echo in the natural reverb chamber while the awful storm continues unabated outside. Classic Oggy scenario.
A cutaway drawing of the action. Oggy surrounded by sparks in a silo being pelted with hail.


I survived. I covered my face with my sleeping bag as the flames spun before me and pelted me with dust and corn and sparks. The storm eventually moved East to wreck havoc on Custer and Rapid City. I staggered out of the silo like I'd been held captive. If there had been people around we would've told and retold that anecdote a hundred times to get the story from all angles but it was only me and the stoic grasslands so I merely closed the door to the silo, pushed my bike under the barbed wire fence, got back on the wet road where balls of hail were still melting, and continued my quest for the Rocky Mountains.

The torment I experienced crossing Wyoming is still repressed in my emotional vault and maybe one day it will return and I can write a story about it. This was my "conquer or be conquered" moment. All the weather, the distance, the lack of food, the desolation, the loneliness, the doubt. All of these reared their heads and brought their full force against me and I had to enter a state of mental and physical transcendence to continue. The rain and the wind were impossible. I found myself almost crawling across the prairie, pushing the bicycle through torments of rain and hail and wind. Now I would pick a location perhaps 10 feet in front of me and think, "If you can reach that location, then you can give up." but when I reached it finally after hours of effort and sweat and pain I would pick another location 10 feet away. "If you can reach that rock, that pebble, then you can quit. You can take a bus or a plane to San Francisco. Sell this bicycle. Sell everything. Fuck it all. Give up, but first you have to reach that pebble." And when I reached the pebble I would pick another pebble or road sign or fence post to aim for. Pebble by pebble, I crossed Wyoming all the time slayed by rain and unforgiving wind. Nothing stirred on the plains except the sight of a few Prairie dogs on sentry watch, darting into their warm underground dens when they saw my crippled figure dragging his bicycle across the wasteland. If there had only been police to save me, but there was nothing. No civilization. No one drives that road. No one bicycles that road. It was the march of death for me to reach the foothills of the Rockies. I remember once I turned around just to experience what it would feel like if my back were to the wind, and I absolutely flew East. I didn't have to pedal the wind was so strong. If I pedaled I was going around 30mph. It was bliss so any tours going East were making 100 Miles a day without breaking a sweat. I turned around and it took hours to reach the spot where I had first turned around, maybe half a mile away.

I believe it took all of July to cross Wyoming. The weather didn't cooperate even for a few seconds. It was a gale force wind every day all day and only the mornings could I even coast for a few feet before I had to pedal again. Normally, when you bicycle you can get some speed up and then coast to rest your legs but in that wind I would immediately stop dead in my tracks if I wasn't pedaling and even when I was pedaling I was barely moving. I had to stand up and put all my body weight on the pedals to even keep the bike moving west. It was ridiculous and the same physical problems that had plagued me since Wisconsin were now at all-time acute prevalence. I now fell down off the bicycle, the bicycle tumbling to the ground and I wouldn't even grunt. It was expected that I could not pick my legs up. All trace of civility and normalcy had been expunged. I couldn't undress or feed myself. All that I wanted was to ride and if I wasn't riding then the wind beat the tent with savage intensity all night while I slept in a crouched position. I couldn't straighten my spine or move my neck. and I could barely swallow water because my trachea had partially collapsed. My lips were chapped beyond belief from the wind whipping them dry. My beard was a foot long and my hair was a tangled nest. I have no memory of the Prairies of Wyoming after the burning grain silo incident. I passed through epic prairies but my head was down, maybe I rode while asleep. It had become purely a test of endurance and how much pain I could withstand and I managed to block everything out. Only the knowledge that I could no longer tie my shoes bothered me because I felt it probably meant something was wrong, but the voices whispered about the looming mountains before me and I pursued the other side.
Looking West from Cody

The wind did lessen once I was on the slopes moving West from Cody so I could pedal once more, but the slopes do not end for about 40 miles. I climbed the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains for an entire week. My ass muscles hurt so badly at this point that I could only pedal standing up. And this taxed my already swollen knee. Both groin tendons tortured me with an agonizing throb that was chronic abductor tendon tear. My arms would not move high enough to allow me to take my shirt off so I slept full clothed, but the altitude had surpassed the limits of my sleeping bag so that was fine. In fact, I had to modify the sleeping bag by moving all the down feathers to the top half and then carefully sewing a seam down the sides of the bag so that the top had all the feathers and the bottom simply relied on the insulating inflatable mattress. This did work to make the bag considerably warmer. Day after day the rain came down but the wind was not horrible climbing the long slope. It was arduous but I never gave up. In order to climb that mountain range I had to commit all my energy, sacrifice everything, but one day I looked up and there was nothing but clouds. No more mountains. A sign said "Continental Divide" I broke down in more ways than one when I reached that sign.

Because I had done this ride solo I had no opinion as to how difficult it had really been. Maybe all tours face similar problems. Yes, the wind had been loathsome and heartbreaking but anyone bicycling west had faced the same wind. Yes, it had rained every day between May and August but being wet never killed anyone. I don't know and will never know if it was an incredible accomplishment that I made it to the Continental Divide in those conditions or if it was merely proof that the clay that molded Oggy was flawed to begin with. I know that I was physically and emotionally ruined as I coasted down the long slope into the Yellowstone Region. One of the last nights I camped I could not sit upright and had to take a piss laying on my side. It took 40 minutes to stand up and another 20 minutes to get on the bicycle. I expected to fall down at least one getting on and off the bicycle. I could only pedal with my left leg because my right knee now had no strength. My left foot had developed heel spurs that made walking extremely painful. Both shoulders were swollen. My knuckles hurt. I was so disabled that breaking camp was a comical exercise, dirty, ugly. I couldn't bend down to pick anything up. If I got on one knee then I couldn't get back up without assistance. It was miserable beyond belief. The whole trip had been endless misery. Maybe 60 or 70 days and it had been nothing but anguish and injury and deprivation and now I was utterly broken.

Worse, I had mentally snapped. The whole ascent of the Rocky Mountains had seen me descend into a manic state of insanity that involved a fantasy of moving to Alaska. Yes, I would completely change my plans, not go to California. I would go back to Fairbanks, Alaska. I would find a way to go to Alaska because that would be even more of an epic journey. Yes! I would abandon everything in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and change course completely, head due North through Montana and Alberta and British Colombia and my favorite place The Yukon Territory to return to Alaska, where years earlier my experience had been a profound disappointment.  I'd had such high hopes in my first trip to Alaska but in the course of crossing the country my right Achilles Heel bone had fractured where the tendon connects. This completely disabled me and if my first semester in College wasn't agonizing enough, becoming disabled really made sure it was miserable. Nothing could fix that injury. There is simply no surgical remedy to a fractured Achilles Heel bone. Any pressure on the foot caused tremendous pain, so I had used crutches for about 18 months until the injury finally improved when I was in South America. The experience in Alaska had always irked me so I made a new plan to redeem myself by abandoning the bike trip to California and returning to Alaska to "vanquish the ghosts of despair". That was honestly how I imagined this vengeful journey back to Alaska; it was like challenging a bully from grade school to a fight. This time, I felt, I was more physically and mentally equipped to enjoy myself. Yes, I was more disabled as I rolled in Jackson Hole than at any point in my life, more physically taxed and more emotionally disturbed then ever before, and I picked that exact moment to return to Alaska with nothing but a backpack.

I managed to meet a friend of a friend in Jackson Hole and he let me leave my bicycle and all my equipment at his house. I intended to return "one day" to Jackson Hole, but I felt the opportunity to return to Fairbanks was too ripe to ignore. It was mid-august and I thought if I could get to Fairbanks by September then I would have a chance to enjoy the cool weather without mosquitoes, to hike the mountains I had never climbed when I was originally in Alaska. So many activities that I had eagerly wanted to try but had been unable to because I was basically crippled and dejected and full of self-pity. Now, I felt, my foot had healed. Yes, I had a host of other problems but hitchhiking to Alaska would give me a chance to recover. By the time I reached Alaska I would be healed and able to hike in Denali, to white water raft, to pan for gold, all those activities that attracted me to Alaska in the first place.

The bike trip ends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I think I added up the mileage I covered and because of all the zig zagging it was something like 3200 miles. It's another 2600 to Fairbanks  and another 1000 to San Francisco so this detour would put around 6000 extra miles under my feet but I thought it was important to vanquish those demons who had haunted my memory in Alaska. I packed my backpack, customized it for hitchhiking with a metal dowel frame. Took only the essentials...and against the advice of everyone I met in Jackson Hole I limped onto the road north and began the long overland trek to Alaska.

It was almost like I had invented this quest to Alaska as a way to trick my masochistic ego into letting me get away from the bicycle. Any other excuse would've been contradicted, but this trip to Alaska was so outlandish and insane that there was no argument against it. It was an important trip, that was undeniable. I did have demons there that wanted banishment. But to pick that particular time to embark on yet another desperate journey over land through the wilds of Montana and Alberta and The Yukon was debatable.

Well, there's no denying the acuity of hindsight and it's all behind me. There is no more bicycle trip to write about. That's the whole of it. Years later, after many crazy and desperate detours I did return to Jackson Hole and my bicycle and equipment had been kept safe.

The only way to conclude this story is to sum up my arrival and subsequently being stranded and disabled in Fairbanks. The actual trip to Alaska is an entirely different story that I think I've touched on a few times before. It was mad, mad, mad with epic scenarios that are still some of the most wacky I've ever heard of, at least as wacky as being burned alive in a tornado of fire in a grain silo. For instance, I still have the craziest hitchhiking story that I've ever heard. I mean, I've never read a more colorful and dramatic story than the one about my hitchhiking through The Yukon and the tale of the drunk Indian, the abused wife, the breaking and entering, the double bladed axe. I'm sure there are crazier stories but those people didn't live to tell about them while I escaped. It was like a true crime mystery combined with a Jack Kerouac tale with some Hunter Thompson mixed in. It's never been topped by any crazy hitchhiking story from someone who survived. By the time I reached Fairbanks I could only shuffle forward a few inches at a time. A drunk Indian picked me up in a place called Wonowon (101 mile of Alaskan Highway) and drove off a cliff and I separated both shoulder and both collarbones. I was so crippled and decrepit by the time reached Fairbanks that I ended up in a Christian Rescue Mission and the health center doctor listened to my story, thought I was lying, and diagnosed me with Hodgkin's Disease because she thought my immune system had failed. She wrote "Consider institutionalization" in her medical notes and She recommended I look into Stem Cell transplant.
Both my shoulders looked like this guy's right shoulder. But both collarbones separated at the sternum so...
... both my collarbones looked misaligned like this. One still does look like this. But what really gave me trouble was the torn groin tendons and the spine injury.

That's the end. I hope you enjoyed this fearless and searching inventory of my bicycle tour in 1993. Any trip that ends with descriptions and photos of bone displacement is interesting. I could sanitize this tale but I feel that's what is wrong with today's media: too fucking sanitary, too middle of the road, too generic and lifeless and unoffensive. Everyone tries to whitewash their personality out of the writing. Too many stories are edited for the masses, like I have to placate you fucks after all that suffering? What for? What have you done for me? Not a chance. This is as sanitary as this story will get. The bike trip's purpose was not to have something to write about but rather to give me real experience in travel and exploring my country, living on my own terms. Yes, it led to other issues but the original intent was the following of a whisper over unknown ridges. Adventure called, adventure undefined, unsanitary, unfeeling, lacking warranty, adventure called and Oggy answered.

I remember going crazy. I remember that I knew it
When I heard myself hallooing to the funny folk I saw.
'Very full of dreams that desert, but my two legs took me through it...
And I used to watch 'em moving with the toes all black and raw.

Kipling

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.