Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Touring Series: Getting Buzzed

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.
In the last entry, Steve had rejoined the tour in a very hung over state and the three tourists rode away from Stevens Point into the Wisconsin countryside........

As we rolled along a quiet county blacktop headed more or less northwards, I noticed a crop duster plane swooping up and down over a field not far off the road we were on. As Troy, Steve, and I marveled at its graceful swoops over the corn field, we suddenly realized it had disappeared. It was flying so low, we could no longer see it. Then we all stopped, sensing something wrong. Just then, the radial engines roar could be heard and there was the plane. It was headed straight for us! We all hit the deck as the plane flew right over our heads. I'm not so sure the pilot didn't fly underneath the power lines, but one thing was for certain: We were buzzed on purpose!

Once we were able to regain our composure, we remounted and sped away. We weren't going to wait around for a second helping of that! The thrill of that moment was soon forgotten; however, as we navigated our way through the rolling countryside, ever mindful of a possible encounter with a resident of Tigerton.

Soon after, we came upon a crossroads where a long, low set of brick buildings were lined up alongside the road. There was a bar sign high up on a rusty, white painted pole outside the building right on the corner. There were a few old cars parked outside, but otherwise there were no other signs of life here. Troy wanted to consult the maps and called Steve over to take a look, so we stopped right at the corner.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the front door of the bar opening and three men shuffled out of the place. Odd, it was still before 9am, but there they were. The third of the three men caught my eye. He was elderly, but spry and thin. The main thing I noticed was that he had a long, curly snow white beard from his chin that reached down to his waist. It fluttered gently in the morning breeze. I marveled at its perfectly formed corkscrew appearance. The man noticed my stare. I politely and sheepishly said hello, and he responded in kind. Then he climbed into an old Ford LTD and the trio rumbled off down the road. Troy and Steve missed the whole thing with their noses stuck in the maps. Oh well!

Now we forged on ahead, straight north, giving Tigerton and its reportedly surly residents a wide berth to our right hand. We were on a highway now, but it wasn't a busy one. We were hopeful of finding a convenience store in the next little town called Elderon, but when we got there it wasn't much of anything but a place to get some water. I dug out some tights from my bag to put on. It seemed to be getting colder. Tights in early August! I thought I'd break them out once we reached Canada, but not this soon!
Location of Wittenburg, Wisconsin

Now we had determined that we had gone far enough north to get safely around Tigerton. So we took a right hand turn eastward onto a busy two lane highway headed to Wittenburg, Wisconsin. I was hoping to stop, since Wittenburg was a bigger town, but Troy sped on through it. I think Troy was more concerned about putting the hurt on Steve than he was about eating just then, although he later claimed it was because the traffic in Wittenburg was too bad for him to stop there. True, the traffic was bad, which would have made stopping difficult, since everything was across the oncoming lane. At any rate, we ended up going through town and a couple miles eastwards before we bailed off the busy road on a quiet county blacktop going northwards. Troy wasn't pleased about going north much more, so the first eastbound blacktop we found, we turned onto.

It was in this stretch that I had remembered that I had brought all sorts of nutritional supplements, and since we had apparently skipped lunch to crush Steve to bits, I delved into my supply. I had planned on doing "research" into which bars and gels did the best for me, so I could recommend things back at the shop once the tour was over. Every time I sampled something, I gained a super human ability to drop Troy and Steve like a bad habit, only to drift back to them as the effects wore off. Troy and Steve caught on to my ruse and gave me grief about it the rest of the day.

Now it was getting on in to the middle of the afternoon. We still hadn't taken a break for lunch. Troy had laid down a consistent pace all day trying to break Steve, but that stubborn little guy kept plugging along, only drinking water with nothing to eat. I think finally Troy found that he was going to have to give in and stop for grub soon, or he was going to bonk. So, in a little town called Gresham we found a supermarket with a deli where we all bought some lunch to eat. Finally!

I never thought about this before, but maybe the pilot of the crop duster was from Tigerton! Ha! He certainly messed with us. I know that.

This was just such an odd, seemingly super-long day. So much so I broke up the story of Day Five of the tour into three bits originally. This morning portion was cooler than I would have guessed for August, but as you can see by the map, we were quite a good stretch North by this point, and I guess I hadn't really reckoned with that while on the ride. 

I remember stopping alongside the road at one point to have a "nature break". I didn't write about this in the original story, but I recall there was some banter about hurrying up in case we would be discovered alongside the road by some "right wing nut job" resident of Tigerton. While the comments were made in jest, I think we all were a bit thankful to have not had any issues with anyone on Day Five!

Finally, I noted while researching Wittenburg for this post that the "busy two lane highway" is now bypassed by a probably busier 4 lane highway. Things certainly have changed in 24 years!

Next: Foreigners In Another Nation

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