I want to be Joy Santee's toy-boy - I fail to be Joy's toy-boy - CycleBlaze

I want to be Joy Santee's toy-boy

Troubled by a saddle boil, I tackle the frightening, mud-wet mountains of central Kansas.
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Last year (if you have tears, shed them now) I had to abandon the TransAm trail in the centre of Kansas. There were several consequences to this, including a spectacularly large medical bill for a saddle boil, a lot of disappointment, an intimate acquaintance with the one motel of a town called Sterling, and the fact that I never did manage to tally up all the Stars and Stripes from one side of America to another.

My first feeling, back in France and licking my wounds (well, not literally licking them, you understand, because this was a crotch injury), was that I never wanted to go back. I felt I had failed. I wished I'd never gone. I was surprised at my reactions, at how much the ride had meant to me and how much I'd been enjoying it before, literally overnight, it was snatched away.

Well, the horns of a bull by night are the ears of a donkey by morning, as the Spanish say. Problems become less with time. Disappointment and strength of feeling as well. So I'm having another go. Not across the TransAm route, because that would mean seeing the same street corners, the same rickety village stores and the very same men wearing calf-length socks and oddly tailored shorts as they drive their motor-mowers. That's how it would be all the way to the middle of Kansas and then after that I'd feel I was on borrowed time. I'd be setting a pointless mental hurdle for myself.

So this time I'm going to Boston, then riding the Atlantic Coast route as far as where it joins the Northern Tier. After that there's little more to it than turning left and following directions, which I'm happy to do because Adventure Cycling routes are devised for cyclists by other cyclists and I'm not going to find better than people who've been researching it for three decades.

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I'll have targets, of course. To get to the other end is quite a big one. But I shall also rate it a successful trip if I can:

[] be shot at at least once

[] drink in a bar where the barman can slide my bourbon down the counter with a single push

[] see a black man playing the blues while sitting on his veranda

[] visit a topless bar (which, curiously, I've never seen here in Europe)

[] go to a club where a girl called Joleen or Betty-Anne is singing about how her dawg gonn up an dahd

[] leap into bed with a preposterously pneumatic American girl, which I gather from the films happens after about 20 minutes

[] become Joy Santee's toy boy

Now, I recognise some of these may be easier than others. Some may even prove tricky.

I met Joy on the day my bottom gave out in Kansas. It was the sole subject of our very brief conversation, not because she wanted to know but because I insisted on telling her. Since then I have apologised. I have also arranged to take her out for dinner when the Northern Tier reaches its closest point to her home.

I don't know why Joy accepted. Maybe my bottom fascinates her. At any rate, I have promised that (a) I will whisper sweet nothings in her ear, and that (b) I will try not to be chewing food as I do it. We haven't yet discussed candlelight, a Viennese fiddle-player and flowers, but it's just a matter of time. I simply hope they have them in the kind of restaurant you're allowed into in cycling clothes.

Joy refers to me (with passion, of course) as "an older gentleman". She says older gentlemen amuse her and they enchant with their conversation. And, more to the point, they're usually willing to pick up the bill.

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