Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Touring Series:Taking A Turn For The Worse

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
  Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995.

Today I can share an actual souvenir from the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". It is the doodle that "Dave the Skateboarder" drew the night we were at the "Mission Coffee House" with him. I tucked this away in my bags and it survived the trip home. I actually still have this somewhere in my personal archives.

This was a very unusual thing for me since I am not generally a souvenir type of guy, but being that it was a doodle, and thus artwork right up my alley, I asked Dave to let me have it and he heartily agreed to allow me to take it. So, that's why it survived the rest of the trip and up to this day. On with the story.........
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 Today we rejoin the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" in Stevens Point, Wisconsin as Troy and Mark leave to look for Steve......

Art by "Dave The Skateboarder"- I still have this somewhere.
So, we took leave of Dave The Skateboarder and went back to that corner bar to get Steve. When we arrived, we found the bar in "full court press", full of college kids and loud music. We asked about Steve at the bar, but apparently the shifts had changed while we were gone. No one seemed to recognize his description. Finally, someone came out of the back to say that they recognized our description of Steve and that they thought he had left some time ago!

Needless to say, Troy and I were in panic mode! We rushed outside to grab our bikes, wildly throwing out ideas and theories as to what had become of Steve. Just as Troy was pronouncing some unrepeatable malediction against Steve, I spied his bike across the street in front of another bar.

Relieved, we walked across the street and entered the bar. Our feelings of relief were short lived though. As I walked in, I noticed a bar with large, powerful looking men in work clothes seated around it. One of them immediately motioned me over to himself.

As I approached he asked, "You know that guy?", as he pointed with his large man-paw in the general direction of an open area by the bar. I didn't need to ask him who he was talking about. I saw him immediately, wavering like a willow in the wind. It was Steve, being very loud and giving some guy some grief about something or other. Umm.........this wasn't good, not at all!

The large man spoke to me again, "You better get him outta here......NOW!" I could easily see that the request was not an optional one. The anger was palpable. I perceived that Steve was only moments away from something ugly. Really ugly!

Troy was incensed and I decided to get him out of there to wait for Steve and I outside. I tried talking Steve out, but he would have none of it. "I'm already in a bar!", he snorted, "Why do I need to go to another one?!!" Steve was apparently proud of his ability to slight these men without their reacting. What he didn't realize was that they could turn him into a wadded up mess in a heartbeat, and they knew it. It was only their strained capacity for mercy that was saving his bacon at that moment.

The patrons and the bartender started in on Steve then, telling him to get out. This only made Steve more obstinate. Things looked to be reaching a breaking point, when I suddenly had a plan. Now I'm not one to intentionally mislead folks for my own personal gain, but this situation called for desperate measures. I blurted out to Steve, "Hey, this bar has topless waitresses! The gals are naked!"

What can I say? Sex sells!

Steve backed down immediately, seemingly interested. I took the opportunity to get him out the door as fast as I could. Once I got out the door, I gave Troy the "high sign" and he caught on and played along like a champ. We escaped! Now it was back to The Mission Coffee House to see if Dave The Skateboarder could help us. When we got there, Steve wasn't going in because it wasn't the topless bar, obviously. So we had to have Dave come out and he graciously gave us detailed directions to the area where we could find the "topless bars", (Motels and Hotels!).
The opposite side of the card above.


Now we were on our own, with a very inebriated Steve in tow. We had two or three miles on four lane streets to get there. Fortunately, the streets were quiet at this time of night. Steve was having control issues now, spontaneously swerving across two lanes of traffic without notice and miraculously not dumping it. After he narrowly missed taking us out, we put him behind us, and fretted about him the rest of the way.

Once we got out to the area where the motels were, Troy and I picked one out and rode up to it. Steve figured out what was going on now and would have nothing to do with it. He wanted to find these "topless bars" or whatever. Troy told him in no uncertain terms that he was on his own, we were going in to sleep. I tried to reason with him, but Steve mounted up and rode away. We turned our backs to him and walked into the motel, secured a room, and hauled our heavy touring rigs up the elevator to our place of rest. After some reflection on the evenings happenings, we turned in, not knowing what had become of our traveling companion.
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Okay, obviously this was one of those, "you had to be there, it was so weird" deals that seem unreal, but it really went down like this. We were literally seconds from a bar fight, and I was so relieved when we got out that I was dumbfounded. I couldn't believe we made it out unscathed.  But now Troy was livid. Absolutely furious. So on one hand I had to placate a drunkard, on the other hand I had to negotiate on the fly with a man that was about to do something murderous.

Then Steve, literally weaving so hard it was unbelievable that he didn't crash, was belligerent enough to just walk away from us when we reached the motel. This was a moment I won't forget. On one hand I felt we should do anything to preserve the trio, but Troy had had enough by this point. There would be no reconciliation, no searching. On the other hand, here I was, left alone with Troy and I felt under-prepared to deal with his forcefulness and physical acumen. I was not ready for this......

Next: Dealing With The Consequences

1 comment:

Robert Ellis said...

Drinking and riding bicycles don't mix well. I'm not proud of this but in the early 80s, by bike, I had my ass kicked bad in a fight. (I can't even remember what it was about) I know I rode away though. And on another ride, while heavily under influence, I crashed hard. I had this gaping wound on my right knee requiring a bunch of stitches. After that I was limping around for 6 months and I still have a big scar. To this day people see it and assume I've had some knee surgery. Man was my dad pissed about the hospital bill. Now that I can remember very well! It seems like back then I had to learn stuff the hard way, but I learned. That was the end to drinking and cycling. GT, really enjoying your great yarn. Please don't let it end!