The Journeyride began on Thursday November 19 at 3:03PM from the space I was renting from Herb on Federal St. in Belchertown, MA. Halfpenny was there to see me off. Herb had just found out that I was going to the west coast by way of bicycle. He thought I was crazy. He had once told me of a man he knew who rode his bicycle from Belchertown to Northampton and back. Perhaps that conversation was part inspiration for this radical decision I’ve made. Or maybe I’m just crazy. Or maybe I’m finally doing what I was born to do.
Didn’t make it very far before I realized how much I despised my decision. I didn’t make it to route nine before that conclusion was made. My camel water pack broke off, my load strapped to the back of my bike kept falling over and my chest was pounding. That was mile one. Made it to the bank to cash the check herb gave me for the returned security deposit on the room I rented from him. The teller, Leah, had a skeleton key around her neck. Was a Tiffany’s necklace. She like skeleton keys she said.
Fared my way through the intersection of passed the common in town and down North Washington St. Load on back still falling. As I passed my friend Nick’s apartment I saw that his car was in the driveway. Figured it would be a while before I saw him again so I stopped in to say hello. It was just passed 4PM. After a time of talking, eating pizza, playing music, and YouTubing I spent the night on his couch.
I awoke just after 6AM to the sound of rain. Ran outside and threw the tarp over my bike, thankful that Jeff got it for me. My sleeping bag was quite damp. Nick got up soon after and said that if I am leaving that I should leave early. But that if I was staying that I should clean up the beer bottles. Slept till 11AM, cleaned up the bottles and got back on the bike. It was around noon when I made it to the post office and found a check waiting for me. Still no sign of the check UMASS owes me, nor the check from the City of Springfield that I’ve been waiting on since April. Everything in its own time I suppose. Said a final farewell to the Postmaster then said a final farewell to the tellers Family First Bank when I deposited the check. Sasha and Ginny thought I had already left on the Journeyride. Informed them of my delay and that I was really taking my time. Imagine if I was in a hurry! Sasha was training her replacement, Nichole. Did a little magic for them then I was off once again.
Made it part way up Three Rivers Rd. when Holly and Jeff stopped me to say hello. They too thought that I was already gone, and I too told them about the delay and my no hurriedness. Imagine if I was in a hurry! Going up Three Rivers Rd. I had to get off and push the bike up the hill. Hadn’t done hill climbing in a while…as in years. Going down Maynard was fun though. Felt like I was flying. It reminded me of something I had once told Stephanie, of my favorite part of riding bicycles is going downhill. With the sun in my face and the wind in my hair, just for a moment it feels like I’m flying; but in order to feel that I have to feel the pain of first going up the hill.
Made it to Boston Rd. when Tom Skawyra found me. “Trying to sneak out of town I see.” A few days earlier I had a lengthy conversation with him over the phone about the alternative options for the trip. Then again the following day after that conversation when I stopped at Capital Cleaners to pick up my suit. As absurd as the trip sounds to others (myself included) and even despite my own fears I had decided to do it anyway.
The night before I left on the journey I spoke to God. “God,” I said, “You’re really starting to piss me off. Everyone thinks I’m crazy! I think I’m crazy! If I have somehow misinterpreted your guidance now would be the time to tell me.” God’s reply was simple. “I support your work and have sent the angels to illuminate your every step. You cannot fail.” That was good enough for me.
Tom followed me and called ahead to the guys. When I stopped into Cumberland Farms that’s when Jason and Matt pulled up with Tom right behind. They checked out my rig. They had a better idea for me. Put the bike in the back of their van and headed to Jason’s. Matt went off to finish work and Jason and I ended up at Wal-Mart getting a much needed new backpack, as mine had already broke by the time I got to Wilbraham where they found me. This new $70 backpack is a much better set up than what I had and will make the Journeyride much much easier. Went out with the guys that night, Matt’s band was playing at St. Mary’s in Bondsville and good times were had by all. Several beers, several whiskies and three appletinis and even Tony was on the dance floor.
The next morning I woke up alone on Matt’s couch. Went to the piano and played Blessed is He. Kiwi, Matt’s cat, was asking for attention even though he really doesn’t want it. I followed him into the front room and realized I had never been in there before. The morning sun lit up the room brightly and the seldom used furniture was very inviting. I sat in a chair in that room for several moments before Matt came home after an all nighter with the band. I commented on the coffee table, “Is that a lobster trap?” “Yes it is a lobster trap,” he replied. “I like the way you work,” I said, “just in case a lobster wanders in here you’re ready for him.”
Breakfast at Dominick’s with Tony and Jason thus ensued. Michelle, the waitress was lovely. I almost commented on her shirt to her but I imagined that she might think I was coming onto her, and that I did not want. I just wanted to be nice. So I ordered a diet coke instead, after already ordering water and an orange juice. Glad I did, the orange juice was nasty! I had onion rings with my eggs and home fries.
Looked at some guns at Nick’s Sport Shop with the guys. Reminded me of the woman who recently shot and killed her son then herself at a shooting range. It also reminded me of Bud Dwyer. There was a really big fishing lure hanging from the ceiling. I wondered out loud what kind of fish would catch. The woman behind the counter laughed and said it was only for decoration. I imagined for a moment I using that lure in a small pond and catching a huge fish! Then I thought that with my luck I’d only catch a pumpernickel.
On the way to Casa de Nana with Jason, Tony and Matt I spoke with Melissa briefly on the phone. “Did we talk on the phone last night?” “Yes we did,” she said, “but only for a moment then you said ‘I love you goodnight.’” “I said I love you!?!?!!” I asked. “Yes,” she said. “I’m sorry, that was clearly drunk talk. I don’t love you, I like you.” Glad I got that cleared up then I hung up.
Day three ended with watching Shooter back at Jason’s place with him and Tony…or Antonio rather.
The angels illuminate my every step. Had it not been for Tom and calling on the guys I would not have received the much needed supplies to properly continue the ride. Three days in and I made it from Belchertown to Wilbraham. Some may question my commitment to the project when it may seem like I’m not taking it very seriously. I say that I’m doing exactly what I set out to do. I never said I was in a hurry. Imagine if I was in a hurry! I’d already be in Vegas working at the magic shop. But the next four months, instead, give me experiences to fill a lifetime of memories. No, I’m not in a hurry; I’m not looking to break any records or prove anything to anyone, not even myself. I’m just addicted to reality and experiences. Imagine if I was in a hurry. Imagine…imagine what day four will bring.
I was born and now it is today.