Marathon Man

Another early, golden morning. It feels good to rise with the sun.
An unexpected guest joins me as I cook rice on a stove made from a beer can.

I pick up a pair of shades against the sun from a Family Dollar. Some queer chromatic aberration makes rainbow hues show up all over when I put my visor down now. This is what the sky must look like when you’re tripping on acid. Cool.

I eventually make it to Rhome, Texas. I am greeted by Curtis, a stranger from the internet; something my mom is still quite uncomfortable with. That’s what makes telling her so much fun, really. Anyway, he turns out to be one of the more interesting individuals I’d meet on my trip.

We talk (as in discuss, not bulldozing our polarized opinions at each other) about guns, communism, mass graves being dug throughout the U.S., and the need to be ready to defend yourself from a hostile government. It’s really interesting because at the base of it all, everything he wants in life mirrors the exact wishes of the anarcho-feminist I had stayed with in New Orleans, just he wants it framed differently and under a different president. I tell him as much, and he admits that the differences between the Left and Right are not quite so clear cut in the States in some matters.

After inviting him to lunch in a weak show of reciprocity for his hospitality, I get to play with the laser sighted pistol it turns out he’s had on him the whole time I’ve been around “just in case”. Not exclusively for me, mind you, just that in Texas that’s how they roll. A strangely hostile mentality from my Canadian(ish) perspective. I definitely had Texas marked as the place I was most likely to get shot in (I figured a stabbing was more likely in Detroit or New Orleans). Sneak preview – I didn’t get shot in Texas. Everyone was really nice, and some lady gave me a piece of pie.

An interesting quote from Curtis: “I once walked into a restaurant, and everyone in there had a gun on their hip. I’ve never felt safer in my life”. Anyway I still don’t know, I think controlling your environment with explosives is crazy, but then again I don’t think I’m the guy to call others out for their wacky proclivities. And unlike my gun toting host, I’ve never been stabbed and robbed before (though I have been robbed on occasion).

Apart from the really interesting conversation on the difference between the moose-riding maple syrup drinkers and the gun totin’ American Dreamers, I get to hear a hell of a story. This guy with a (literally and figuratively) abnormally large heart made his fortune and lost it and remade it, and seems to have made the best of it the whole time – airplanes, stewardesses, waterskiing, bodybuilding, motorcycles. Hope this guy writes a book someday. Most inspiring was his story of the triumph of will over medicine – he breaks his back and leg, and blows away the doctor’s grim prognostications by going on to train his way from the impressive feat of just walking again to marathons and cross country cycling before heatstroke finally convinced him to slow down. A good thing too, give the young guys a chance, eh?

Oh, also he’s an ace mech and builds badass adventure rides, like his KLR complete with custom machete case and end-of-the-world-ready four wheeled tanks. His company is aptly named Ridiculous Equipment LLC. I recommend his work if you like machines, ridiculously awesome machines, or ridiculous machines with machetes. If my plan to retire at 30 pans out I’ll see about getting him to add a gun-turret sidecar to the KLR, just because.

Here he is fabbing up some new parts for me:

Bare necessities to dismantle the bike (not pictured – the rum)

This is what a sprocket looks like when it needs to be changed. Okay, long after it needs to be changed…

So yeah, I’m pretty happy that he offered to pimp out Lost. He ads tons of awesome stuff, including a little storage bay he straight up yanks off his own bike to fit into mine and a Texas shaped footprint that would save my bike from falling over for tens of thousands of kilometres to come. After talking to him I feel like the Texan mentality is far more nuanced than we Canucks give credit for – I’m cool with leaving little Texas-prints all the way to Argentina.
Here it is again, courtesy of another rider who helped me later in the journey:

The shop is a maker’s dream.

I could stay for days prepping the bike, getting this that and the other thing ironed out. But the most precious force in any adventure is momentum. Gravity has a way of releasing you when you start rolling that makes its weight all the more burdensome when you stop and allow it to collect on your shoulders.

It’s too bad but somehow I find myself on a schedule again and need to get rolling. Time to make my way West, the Rockies are calling.

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