Charley’s ride across America 13. Managing the Power Plant and Opposable Thumb


Day 22 feb 18. 52 miles 4:47 beautiful cool day 50 degrees, half in traffic, end in Marksville LA. 7 dogs today ( the dachshund was the only easy one to outrun)

Day 23 feb 19.  38 miles 4:00  5-10 knot headwind beautiful country roads, over 20 dogs end in Ville Platte LA

Total miles 965 

Dear family and friends,

Just this morning after the hotel breakfast, I passed a full classroom of adults in some kind of continuing education class. I’ve spent many hours in these classrooms to hone professional skills and keep certifications. Made me think of the effort invested over many years to get myself in a financial position to afford this lifestyle. And, I was happy I was no longer sitting in that room. Continuing education in the accounting profession is about “ butts in seats”, meaning that the tracking for your hours has to show you either sat in a room or in front of a screen for the required hours. Now I’m sitting in a different seat for hours.

When I finish riding today, they will likely still be sitting there.

As I exited the motel, I heard over the sound system LOVE POTION NO 9, by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. This was off their  THIS DIAMOND RING album, the first album that I ever purchased. Maybe I was hoping to find that magic. I was twelve when it came out. 

So it stayed with me all day. Singing. Out loud. No one could hear.

🎼I took my troubles down to madame Ruth


I’m not sure about my traveling style to know if I am finding out that I am simply a wimp with the hotel stays every night or if that is smart, for now. Lots of people do this ride with camping and Warmshowers the entire trip.

Physical: It’s one thing to be able to do a ride of five hours into the wind, and it’s another to be ready for another five hours again the next day and the next. You get the point. So, recovery is something I think a lot about.

I do find myself pretty tired at the end of each day after these rides. If I can rest, sleep well, eat well, have time to reflect, have a nice space to stretch and exercise other muscles, then I feel ready to do it again the next day. I could say I am either babying myself or know something about myself and what my needs are.

🎼you know that gypsy with the gold capped tooth

I sometimes feel like I owe myself a treat, like eating  a quart of ice cream, after a ride because I’ve worked so hard and “ earned” it. It’s probably not my best long term strategy.

I do want to be able to finish this whole ride and for that I need to keep the engine that pushes these pedals around working. I’m not completely sure if I’m getting in better shape or slightly more run down each day. I aim to work towards the former.

🎼she’s got a pad down at thirty-fourth and Vine

I’ve never done any activity for five hours per day for this many days in a row, either in my youth or recently so I’m not sure how it works for me. Maybe I could do twice as much with half the recovery. Or maybe not.

The other day, after almost three hours into the ride, I felt tired and ready to be finished. I checked my watch and realized I still had an hour and three quarters yet to ride. A new reality to me.

Mentally: it’s one thing to tell yourself that the practice of Stoicism allows me to not worry about what I cannot control, like getting hit by a motorist. The modern Stoics borrowed a Latin phrase from Neitzsche: AMOR FATI, which translates to love of fate. I think about it often.

Yet to get on that bike and pedal into the traffic lane with no shoulder, for whatever the distance, knowing that any slight variation of the driver will end my life as I now know it does take some toll on my energy. 

🎼Sellin little bottles of love potion number nine

That is my biggest surprises far;  how much I have to deal with traffic.

I do my route planning with a mix of the Adventure Cycling route and Google maps for bicycles. Both have led me into dangerous road situations. Neither shows what there might be for a shoulder. A divided highway with a wide shoulder isn’t that scenic, but it is more  relaxing and feels safer than a crowded two way road with traffic with zero shoulder.

🎼I told her that I was a flop with chics

If or when I am either riding in a strong headwind or a road with a tiny shoulder, it is important to focus on my steering, gripping the handlebars to keep the bike wheels completely where I want them. After a few hours of this my hands and shoulders get tired, but especially the thumb on my left hand. 

This thumb gets almost unusable. I often think of the “ opposable thumb” that separates us from other creatures and wonder if I have a thumb that isn’t any longer “opposable”, then does that make me less human?

🎼I didn’t know if it was day or night

Of course there’s a story behind the thumb:

I was living in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in what was called a transitional neighborhood. I was sleeping upstairs and heard a noise downstairs. Was it the wind or something else? I sneaked downstairs quietly and approached the side of the house with the screened in porch. Being winter, we had storm windows and doors on the outside. This was an older classic home with leaded glass in multipaned French doors ( it was affordable because of the neighborhood).

I started kissing everything in sight

I thought I saw movement in the porch, so approached from the side, being invisible to anyone in the porch. Yes, there was a person at the side door working on opening the storm door. I jumped in front of the door , separated from the intruder by only about two feet and the two doors. An amazing shot of Adrenalin fueled 

me to reach a fist through both doors. This intruder was much shorter than me and was completely surprised at my attack. As soon as the glass broke he (assumption) turned and panicked to jump through the wall of screens and wood frames, leaving an  impression like in the cartoons of the shape of a person.

Since the intruder was gone, I got control of myself and realized that I had cut my thumb badly on the glass and it was hanging from my hand.

🎼But when I kissed a cop down on thirty-fourth and vine

We called the police who came quickly, shone their flashlights at the human impression in the screens and said “ he won’t be back”.

I went to the ER, got stitched up by the proper specialist, but lost some opposable thumb capabilities.

🎼He broke my little bottle of love potion number nine.

Don’t get me wrong. This trip has loads of pleasure in it. I get to be outside in whatever weather there is observing the country while traveling in slow motion. I get the chance to test myself physically and mentally. I get to write up my observations and share them with all of you. 

I recognize how lucky I am to be in this situation and appreciate that part every day!

Overall, I’m enjoying the heck out of this. Today I had someone cuss at me, telling me to get off the road. I instantly gave him the…………….biggest smile I could muster!

Sending love, and I enjoy hearing any comments or questions.


We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.