I passed a seeker on a road to nowhere today. It is the road to Panama City actually, which is somewhere for some. Me in a rental car, a comfortable Mazda 6, and a hotel room at the end of the drive. Another notch in my traveling stick. I passed him with a wide, slow berth, but too fast to read the sign. It didn’t matter. I already knew the cash in my wallet was his, and my big bag of tamari almonds. Work horses and wild horses still nicker and neigh together given the chance.
It took me a couple of miles to get the decision all the way to my right foot, so I turned around and cruised easy until I saw him in the bike lane up ahead. I pulled well off the road and got out to hale him.
“What’s up Hardcore!” I said as he pulled to the shoulder. “Hammer down!” He replied. I could have hugged him for that.
His dog jumped out of her covered wagon to sniff me.
I gave him a twenty and the bag of almonds and his eyes registered the cash, but it was the almonds he raised like a bag of gold. When you are still five miles from supper on a country road a $20 won’t get you too far. He said he got divorced 11 months ago and he didn’t know what to do with himself, so he just got on his bike. That was in Texas, and he was in the Florida Panhandle by way of Virginia Beach. “I’ve been doing this a minute” he said, when I asked if he wanted my half-bottle of water. “Got 5 jugs in the trailer.”
I introduced myself, encouraged him to stop by here and say hi if he ever got the chance. He repeated “big ring circus” twice and said, “I can sure remember that!” We shook hands solid and good, then parted ways. A truck stop dinner 30 minutes away for him, and who knows where he would lay his head. He introduced himself as Commodore. I went with Juancho.
I had the thought that there is only one story to tell about riding bikes that is worth telling. That’s the story of how we ride to lose ourselves, then find ourselves again. For an afternoon or a year, most of us are riding desperately from one thing in hope of finding another thing. It’s all one story. All one ride. That’s my story at least.
I have fallen apart and ridden myself back together again more times than I can count. The last time it happened this is what was waiting for me when I let myself put my kickstand down.