With the "Race Against Death Tour" over and done with, a few days after arriving at home a party was thrown in honor of the three travelers at the home of their boss from the bike shop.....
August 19th, 1995: With the tour behind us we went back to our "regular" lives at the bike shop. It was still pretty busy, being August and all, and I slipped right back into the regular routine. Saturday after work was going to be a big party at Tom's house for our return home. More of an excuse for a party, rather than a real reason, but what the heck, ya know?
So I decided to ride my bike over since I planned on having a few beers and escaping the notice of "The Law" on my bicycle after being "under the influence" was easier on two wheels under my own power. So it was that I pedaled over and found the party just beginning. It was just like any other gathering for me. I never was too adept at being "in the flow" of a party with a bunch of people, and this time was no different. I sat around, made a few comments, and had my fair share of beer. Later in the evening, I decided to bug out. I wasn't really feeling it.
And to be honest, it was a anti-climatic deal anyway. I was done with the most exciting thing I had ever done on a bicycle with no prospects of anything around the corner, an empty house, and no one to share my experiences with. WooHoo! Yeah.....big deal and all. So I turned the ol' Mongoose towards home and waved goodbye.
Now in those days, I didn't ride much with a light. I usually went at a fairly easy pace in the dark and just took it easy. We had bike paths, so staying out of harms way was easy to figure out. Back streets and bike paths all the way home, and I'd be in the sack trying to forget about all of this. Or so I thought. Turned out that this last hurrah for the tour had a pretty weird punctuation mark!
My plan was to hit the main bike path through George Wyth State Park, link up to the East Lake Trail, which would dump me out near the San Souci bridge. Then some industrial area back streets would guide me to my neighborhood and home. About a ten mile ride in all. It started out just grand. No wind, coolish temperatures, and plenty of street lights to guide me on the way into Geo. Wyth. That's where the speeds were dropped down really low. Darkness in that canopied trail was thick and it was hard to see. That being gotten through, I figured it was a no-brainer now the rest of the way in. That is until I got to the start of the Sans Souci bridge.
I heard crying. Crying like a young ladies cry, and it was saying, "Please help me!" between heavy sobs. I stopped to make sure I was hearing this for real. Yep! No doubt about it, and I could tell it was coming from the direction of the grassy sided dike that lined the river here. I dismounted my bike in search of the source of this crying. Well, it didn't take long to find it. A young woman laying in the grass. She looked to be a teenager. Maybe in her very early 20's at best. I told her I wasn't going to hurt her as she shrank away from me at first. I said I only wanted to know if she needed help. She sat up and said yes, she did need help. She had been pushed out of her boyfriend's car and had no way home. I said, "Pushed out of a car! Are you okay?!" She said she didn't know.
I asked her to stand up if she could, and she did with little effort. Well, at least she was moving all right, and I couldn't see any outward signs of trauma. I began to suspect her of lying about the car deal. She seemed really out of sorts too. Maybe high on something. Who knows in this town! Well, things seemed odd, at best, but I figured I could at least get her home. She steadied herself on my arm as I pushed my bicycle with the other, and we started out down the side walk.
I asked her again about the car, since it seemed rather incredible that she could have been dumped out of a moving car without injury. Well, it seemed the car had been at a stop when she was shoved out. Okay.......maybe she's legit, I am thinking now. Well, apparently she had broke the news that she was pregnant. Okay......now I'm upset and concerned!
I felt really bad for this gal now and was determined to see her get home. I kept telling her it would be okay- we'd get there- don't worry about me. At one point she tugged me to a stop and asked, "Are you an angel?" Hmmm.....I shrugged that off. I was taken aback. Surely this was the oddest thing anybody had ever said to me. I just wanted to keep moving, but I felt an odd feeling inside me when she asked that question. Then, in an instant, all hell broke loose.
Red lights were flashing all around us. An intercom voice said, "Put your hands where we can see them and move away from each other! Slowly!" A blinding light was in our eyes. It was two squad cars and I could see men moving cautiously towards us. Well, I was confused! What the........... And then I was answering questions. "No sir, I don't know her name. No, I have no idea why she was there. I was just trying to help her." Meanwhile, I could hear her upset pleas to not bother me. That I had nothing to do with the deal. I told the cop my story, and then he asked that I just stay put for a bit while they pieced the story together from the young women's side. I agreed to stand still and wait.
Maybe it was ten minutes, I don't know, but it seemed like an hour. I stood there and then after that excruciatingly long wait, a cop ambled back towards me. He said, "Well, it's obvious to us you had nothing to do with her and what happened to her, so we're going to let you go. But, I suggest you head straight home!" he stated firmly. I said, "Don't worry about that, Sir!" And with that, I mounted up. As I pedaled away, I heard the young lady say thanks. I waved goodbye.
As I started across the street to hit the last couple of miles to the house I was freaked, amazed, happy, and wired all at once. I swore I would get home as fast as I could. I didn't want anymore weirdness on this night, as I figured I had burned through all my "good luck cards" already that night. I passed through quiet city streets quickly, reached my house, and hit my bed still breathing hard. I was at home.
It was all over.
Bike-sploring the Brooks Range Part 3
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