Permission - Taring Down the Coast - CycleBlaze

Permission

The sophomore's argument


Getting permission was a big deal for me.  Most towns and cities in the 1960s had a 10:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew for minors under eighteen years old.  We were going to be without adult supervision for the better part of a month twenty four hours a day.  

My mother was dead set against the idea from the beginning, but really dug her heels in when the proposed ride expanded to border to border.  We were not just touching the international frontiers but crossing them.

Ed had no such problems.  His parents especially his mother were all for an adventure and getting Ed away from his San Diego city haunts and associates.  I was considered a steadying influence by many of my friends' parents during our high school years.  That included when another friend and I got stranded in central Mexico over Christmas break and the next year when I was stranded deep in Baja California with the same friend.  Whether I was a steadying influence or not, I certainly didn't feel all that steady or wise to the ways of the world.  Ed was the one who knew how to get around in small towns and the big city.

It needs to said, I am the baby of a family with four brothers and no sisters, and typical of the youngest I saw my older siblings going on glorious adventures, which I was told I was too young to participate in. As my brothers told and retold stories of their exploits they grew and grew in intrigue to Homeric dimensions, and like the rainbow always seemed just out of my reach.  

I had to make my case in a "Perry Mason" fashion if my wheels were going to spin down the coast.  I immediately pointed out my two middle brothers had spent nine days hiking and fishing in the High Sierras without an adult present while they were high school age.  The two adventures didn't seem to be comparable.  They were dropped off at the trailhead above Bishop, California and picked up at the same place nine days later.  I have to agree that people hiking at 11,000 feet above sea level are to a large degree a self-selecting group with positive consciousness.  We on the other hand would be crossing three states and two international frontiers all while riding on a major north/south transportation corridor through hundreds of unknown towns and cities.  Many of these places are not especially self-selecting for the most righteous of our society.  So that argument was not going to tip the balance.  

My oldest brother ten years earlier, also at the age of sixteen, had skippered and navigated a thirty-six foot sailboat from Honolulu, Hawai'i to San Pedro, California.  He had three teachers with no sailing experience as crew.  Certainly that was an odyssey fraught with uncertainties and possible danger, and if he did it why was it not my turn for my right of passage into adulthood?  I forgot that he fell overboard in the middle of the night and also had one of his crew threatened mutiny mid passage.  I was running out of comparisons to make my case and my hopes were dimming.

Then I remembered being told stories when my father had bicycled from Paris to Amsterdam for the 1928 Olympics when he was a teenager.  My father said he would sign the papers giving me permission to cross borders with a notarized letter of introduction to be used in case of emergency or questioning by the any local law enforcement officials.  My mother relented and all the parents pow wowed to set up the guidelines.  Many years later I put together different pieces and tellings of my dad's European bicycle travels.  It was similar to what today would be called a fully supported ride or credit-card tour.  There weren't Visa and Master Cards in the nineteen twenties, but luggage was sent ahead to the next hotel or hostel.  It was a trip of approximately three hundred miles.  And my father was nineteen years old and in college not a sixteen year old high school sophomore.  But the important thing was we were going.

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