Submitted by Charlie on Wed 05 Oct 2016 - 14:24

Give Us Your Trumps, Your Proud, Your Huddled Masses Yearing for Tax Breaks

Above: Quite possibly the least attractive picture ever taken of the Statue of Liberty.

"If you do not remedy this malparkage within seventy-two hours, your car will be thrown into the East River at your expense." - NYC Parking Hotline

I am sitting next to the Atlantic Ocean. (Since I'm in Battery Park, I think it's technically New York's Upper Bay, but that's definitely salt water out there.) It took me two and a half weeks of pedaling to go the approximately 800ish miles that took me across Michigan, up to the ferry, then south in Wisconsin, through Milwaukee, to Chicago, and then across northern Indiana and Ohio to Cleveland. It took about ten hours, including stops, for the bus to take me the 460ish miles from Cleveland to Manhattan. I have clearly been traveling the stupid way.

Being homeless on a bike works, but only sort of. The biggest problem is food and finding enough of it. It takes a lot of calories to propel me, the bike, and all the crap I've got fifty or so miles per day. And while it's easy to figure out how to eat cheap in any given location if you stick around long enough, when traveling you're basically stuck with whatever happens to be close or open, which isn't always a grocery store with reasonable prices.

The other major drawback is simply time. I figured I'd be able to spend at least a few hours each day happily sitting at my laptop, pecking away at the keyboard to create something of at least mild intellectual interest out of all my exertions. But between finding someplace to camp, figuring out my route, packing and unpacking my tent, keeping up remotely with my stupid real job, and the increasingly short amount of daylight here on the autumnal side of Labor Day, keyboard time was in very short supply. Two and a half weeks of riding and all I had to show for it was two finished posts and three or four unfinished ones. Emotionally tortured novelists work faster. 

Beyond money and time, there was also a physical complication that I'd hoped would be less severe. Back in July, during the first really long (50 miles) test ride for this little adventure, I'd noticed a small ache in my right knee. It stuck around through increasingly longer training rides, but didn't get any worse when I did long trips on back-to-back days, so I hoped it'd be manageable. Just a few days in, however, it was undeniable that even keeping myself to only thirty or forty miles per day (2-3 hours, depending on hills and wind) wasn't going to be sustainable long term. My knee was hurting even when I wasn't on the bike, and a close comparison with its counterpart on my left leg revealed small but tender swelling.

I spent enough of my youth getting yelled at by lunatic sports coaches to have learned the difference between annoying pain you can ignore and serious pain that's a warning sign of impending injury, and the spikes I was feeling when I'd get off the bike after an hour or so were definitely the latter. That it ached enough that certain angles became uncomfortable for sleeping - even with large quantities of ibuprofen - was a further warning sign which seemed unwise to ignore.

Long story short, I made same damn mistake I always make: underestimating how long things will take while overestimating my own capabilities. So, instead of a two month bike trip, I took a two week bike trip. But since I still have no place to live and lots of places I want to visit, the trip itself will continue, albeit via different means. So the bike is now in my friends' garage outside of Cleveland, and I am now a Gentleman Bus Hobo instead of a Gentleman Bike Hobo. I will not, however, be getting new cards:

Technically it's just a "Card" since "Business Card" implies that I'm profitable.

Note: next year, order fewer cards.

The final aspect of the trip that's been a major disappointment is completely beyond my control: the fucking Democratic Party. I'm a big believer that the downballot is the most contested part of this year's election, and, being an occasionally good citizen, I tried to volunteer for no less than four different Democratic House candidates whose districts I rode through. I went to their website, clicked the "Volunteer" link, and entered my information. Three of them just ignored me and put my email on the fundraising list. The one that did reply took two days to do so and then didn't tell me where their office was. I eventually found it and spent a couple hours making phone calls, but then they too didn't reply when I asked what else I could do. [Will Rogers Quote Emoji]

That the DCCC is running a clownshow I already knew. That they're running a clownshow so hapless that it can't even reply to emails I did not know. Lesson learned.

Anywho, bike trip over. Bus trip beginning. More internet complaining hopefully on the way.