Thunder! Lightning! Oh joy it's going to pour. WHAM! WEEE! Within 30 seconds everything is completely soaked. Up and down, up and down, up and down... the hills into Tallahassee are the worst since Wrightsville, PA. This is awesome. I'm going to drop in on Christy looking like hell and I love it.
I plopped myself down at the local coffee joint surprised to find that despite my appearance, I don't stand out whatsoever. Some of the clientele there were rivaling me with stink lines emanating from their hair and clothing and there were already a ton of bikes out front. I think I caught Christy by surprise when I came in a couple hours earlier than expected, but she was able to come out to the coffee shop, All Saints, and rendezvous with me moments after I arrived. Two women on bicycles come up next to where I'm sitting and it's obvious that they're looking for me... Christy and Laura. Seconds after hearing her say "Charlie, Chuck, whoever, right?" she ran off to talk to someone walking the opposite way. Laura and I introduced ourselves and I asked where Christy was headed.
"Oh, we lost someone last night." Lost? Partied too hard it'd seem. Christy was asking around to see if anybody had seen her boyfriend after he went missing the previous evening. We exchanged a few words about it and I caught something about him having been in the hospital and in jail before so it's nothing completely unusual. Oh, ok. I feel like I'm instantly in the middle of some kind of chaos on the campus of FSU. Stepping into the coffee shop was like walking back into college. It felt strange. The whole situation just caught me off guard... it was nothing like I played out in my mind moments ago. Before we even really said "Hi" to one another, the three of us were back on our bikes and riding towards the apartment.
Entering the apartment, it now made sense - I definitely dropped in on Christy too spontaneously and during some hectic hours. The apartment was a disaster (sorry, but it was). We spent a while bulldozing the cat toys, clothing and random goodies to one side of the apartment so that ShadowFax had a place to recuperate indoors. I ask,
"So where am I going to sleep?"
"Right there." (Christy points to the bed)
"Oh, I thought you said something about a couch."
"Couch? Nope. I don't have any couches."
"So where are you sleeping then?"
"I'm going to sleep at a friend's house."
No way? You're going to leave me with the entire apartment... and your two cats?? Yup. Simple as that, like it wasn't even something to consider. Amazing. It took a little to get used to the dynamics of my new friends but all was good once I got myself on the same page. And then with an "Ok, I'll see you later, bye", they left the apartment to head to campus. I stood in the middle of the apartment in disbelief as the two kittens studied their new found buddy. After a quick tour of the apartment, I cleaned up and hit the streets to find the library Christy and Laura had told me about.
"This has become a day in my existence that completely does not fit in." As I walked through the streets of FSU, I felt like I had just been imported from some foreign nation as a new component and immediately fit into the system. Only a block away I ran into somebody I knew. It was Christy, driving around in her car heading wherever she was heading. Weird... I think? She didn't seem to think so. We had ourselves a dialog like I was a usual friend walking around campus. Ok, cool. She drove off. I continued towards the library and then met another person I knew. It was Laura... having a conversation with someone and just happened to be exactly where I was heading. This is weird. She introduced me to her friend, Sean, and then I continued on my path towards the library like I actually knew where I was going. Now that I think about it, it was exactly like the beginning of your classic RPG (role-playing game) video game.
1) The introduction to the video game shows your relations with other characters.
2) The quest begins and you're in full control of your player and go wherever you want.
3) Miraculously, the first two or three people you meet are the ones in the introductory movie.
4) The plot thickens. This is usually in the form of some evil demon making his presence.
5) You are assigned the task of solving this demon and set off on an adventure.
6) Now, the two or three people you met moments ago now become your best friends and companions.
Well, maybe not exactly. The plot did thicken, but I chose not to set off to solve the demon... at least not yet. I spent some time in library to later rendezvous with Sean, Laura and Christy again at Momo's Pizzeria. Oh man... let me tell you about Momo's. I've been to a ton of pizza parlors over the passed month or so and none of them can compare to this place. It's simply a young environment with a lot of energy and... for lack of better description, passion about the pizza... or that's how I perceived it anyway. The slogan of this place is something along the lines of "A pizza slice as big as your head" and they're not kidding. The waitress walked out from behind the counter hauling along a slice and even after I've let my hair and beard grow, it's still bigger than my head. If the slices are that big, the pies must be ridiculous, right? That's when I met Nick.
Welcome to your food coma.
That night, I fell asleep with a cat on my chest and the sound of the air conditioner puttering away like it could die at any moment.
After frantically chasing one of the cats around the stair case for a while, I put him back in the apartment and set off to find Sunshine Cycles. The bike shop that sold me my bike said that at around 2000 miles I should replace the chain. Unfortunately, replacing the chain also meant replacing the rear cassette because I was using just 3 gears for 95% of the tour and they quickly wore out. Damn. Oh well, the money's going towards a good cause. I ended up buying a new pair of Trek cycling shorts, too. It became obvious that the saddle discomforts were largely due to the old shorts... which makes me wonder if I wasted cash on the Brooks saddle. Oh well.
PING! What the hell was that? Did someone just throw a rock at me? I looked around to see if someone did indeed toss a rock at me. I stopped to look at my bike. I've never broken a spoke before, but I would bet that was the sound of a spoke breaking. I quickly checked the spokes so that I might overlook the problem and hoped it would fix itself. Yea. Someone must've thrown a rock at me... or a penny... and it hit my wheel. Yup.
You're an idiot, Chuck. Nobody is throwing rocks at you.
I have this mentality that I am invincible though my track record proves otherwise. In soccer, I am one of the most vicious players on the field because I feel like I can't get hurt despite the severe ankle injuries and torn hamstring I've had. It's the same mentality with my bicycle. It's broken a couple of times now, and every time I just assume that my bike is too damn awesome to break. I mean, I haven't gotten any puncture flats so far, right? This mentality is quickly fading in regards to the bicycle. Whatever, I forget about the sound and keep pedaling.
Back on my feet in search of another food-induced coma, I found myself at a Qdoba ready to gorge. As soon as I took a seat outside, out came Andy and Aaron. I had actually considered sitting down with them earlier at their table when I realized they were USAF pilots but they were with a lot of company and my appearance is always something to consider. Happy to see they came to talk to me instead, they sat down at my table and we got to know one another. Turns out, they're going through the 12-month training program to become pilots... a path I had considered not even a year ago. I chose not to pursue it because I learned that it's next to impossible to become a pilot if you're not part of ROTC, the Academy or have prior military experience. Aaron confirmed this when he told it the number per year who make it through without any of these qualifications is about '8'. Anyway, we exchanged some stories about bicycle endeavors and snapped a photo before parting.
I didn't give a lot of thought as to whether or not I should leave Tallahassee right then. I just left. I didn't want to have to take over Christy's apartment for a second night even though she didn't seem to mind. I felt like I was invading her space. I still feel bad about this decision - I should have stayed another night. Later that day both Christy and Laura would call me and ask where I was and if I wanted to go out to eat with them. She was surprised to hear that I left, and the worst part is I had only gone about 30 miles before the sun went down. It was stupid. She also told me that the pizza parlor was calling people trying to track me down for the job. Ugh... what am I doing?
There is still a part of me that is urging for constant "progress" and to have zero miles covered in a day after just spending 3 days resting in Jacksonville is perceived as some sort of failure. I'm not sure if that is an entirely bad mentality or not. I'm starting to believe that there is a happy medium where sometimes it's necessary to keep moving and other times it's necessary to bunker down and let things play out. The biking has become somewhat of an obsession and the worst thing that can happen is for the machine to become disabled.
Let's hope that doesn't happen,
Random lady: "Perfect day to ride a bike!"
Chuck: "Everyday's a perfect day to ride a bike."
--- Either you shove off today or you wait around and hope for the perfect timing.
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