Stover to Clinton - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

June 1, 2014

Stover to Clinton

I am in America
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EXCITING THINGS don't happen every day. Interesting people don't tell you startling things. The countryside doesn't sing to the heart like a blackbird's call. Instead, some days are unremarkable, to the extent that they leave you happy but unsure what happened even an hour before.

And so it was today. I picked my way back to Stover, now more downhill than up and still without the murderous traffic the locals had promised me the day before last. A woman of short height and beady eyes pinned me down in the gas station with the accusation that I was Australian, "because I'm always good with accents."

I wondered whether to correct her but she was less interested in strangers, Australians or not, than in herself.

"I'm half pure German," she said, making a dividing line south from her nose. "And the other half, that's English, Indian, Irish and Scottish." I said she didn't look like any of those - by Indian she meant American Indian - and regretted it instantly.

"You should have seen my grandparents," she enthused. "They looked so Indian, they looked ready to kill you."

By now I was checking the route to the exit. The woman behind the counter was looking on with a neutral expression that I interpreted as: "I can't say anything because she's a customer but you might want to change the subject." So I changed it and the half-German, part-Indian was no longer interested and she said she had to be going and peace returned.

And so I rode on, still on the main highway, still tolerable without being thrilling, and then off on quieter roads to Windsor, where I taught four 12-year-old girls how to paradiddle on the table and window, to the grief of everyone else in the ice-cream parlour.

Teaching paradiddles is a speciality of mine and I will do it whether invited or not. All you do is find a different sounding surface for each hand and tap left, right, left, left and right, left, right, right, over and over and regularly, so that you get a rhythm that sounds far more complicated than it is.

Most of them gave up straight away. But the one with the brightest eyes persevered and kept saying: "I gotta get that down when I get home." I pitied her parents and what I was inflicting upon them.

I left her paradiddling and set off down the last kilometres of the Katy Trail to Clinton, where I failed to find the advertised campground and slept instead in a cheap motel.

Probably no comment needed
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Small towns sometimes make the most of the trail that passes through their community. Some, like Windsor, must see it as a lifeline; Windsor's main street is along line of shops that haven't opened and some that never will
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I suppose it says something of a struggling town that it decorated its caboose for the bicentennial and then neglected it so that the paint has faded and flaked
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There were other cyclists in town: a group riding the trail with their bags carried
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Today's ride: 108 km (67 miles)
Total: 2,376 km (1,475 miles)

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