I’m not sure where I stand on the concept of karma, but I believe that the last 24 hours might have been cosmic payback for convincing Kevin Jones that he was capable of jumping the culvert on his Schwinn Stingray in 1978.
Kevin (unlike his bike) suffered no permanent damage in the attempt, which explains why I made it through the weekend without physical injury.
It all started great. I had been invited to be the Lead Bike in a marathon! How cool is that?! The marathon was only a few miles from the campground where we were camping with friends on the same weekend! AND after the marathon, the soccer team I coach had a game in the same town! It was serendipity! What could go wrong?
So, I packed the car with camping equipment, food, kids, dogs, soccer gear, and my bike, and drove off to the waiting adventure.
When I got to the marathon course, I found someone to show me part of the course and I decided to wing the rest of it. I had a photocopy of the map... what could go wrong?
Next, up the river valley, our friends’ camper was exactly where they said it would be, but I decided that the camper was not theirs, and since there was no one there to set me straight, I drove around with my children on the gravel roads until the dog puked on a pillow, the carpet, the center console, the emergency brake, the seat, and me. It was well dark when my wife’s headlights illuminated us on the side of the road flicking dog vomit out of the car with a stick.
We drove to a different campground, and along the way we passed our friends who were coming back to their trailer (which was right where it was supposed to be). I assured my wife, children, and sick dogs that the Tahoe we passed was not our friends’ Tahoe.
The next morning, I got up at 6 am and took my bike to the marathon starting line. I proudly led the lead runners through the section that I was shown the evening before. Some of the signs were stolen the night before, so the route wasn’t marked when we entered the town. I made all the turns with my ear to the cell phone and one eye on the photocopied map.
On the second half of the course, I missed a turn, which knocked off more than a half mile. In case you haven’t been in a marathon, this is a bad thing. Turns out, the distance is not flexible.
I was then sent to stand at an unmarked turn on the marathon course because the flag guy had to go pick up his wife. Unfortunately, I didn’t look very official and most everyone questioned my directions when I told them to turn toward the sewage treatment plant, then follow the arrow which was drawn on an empty liquor box with a Sharpie.
No one came to relieve me, and I needed relief, if you know what I mean. Hours later, when the last runner (walker) gave me the stink eye for sending him to the sewage plant, I got my relief at a McDonalds and headed back to camp with my son to take down the tent and hide from the world for a few minutes before the big soccer game.
I was following a big GMC SUV through the back streets. The GMC TooBig suddenly stopped, went into reverse, and mounted the front of my Subaru with gusto. After dismounting, the GMC TooBig’s owner apologized, gave me her insurance information and went out looking for another smaller car to attack.
With none of the really important stuff crushed, Jay and I drove back to camp, took down the tent, packed up, and left to sit in traffic on the way to the soccer game. We got there when the game was supposed to start, but all of the players were stuck in traffic. Eventually, kids showed up and we played on a muddy field that smelled suspiciously of manure. My team was destroyed 0-8.
I left the field with Jay, who now was bummed out, muddy, and smelled suspiciously of manure. We drove back into the town to meet the marathon organizers at the sponsor’s pub to find out find out how mad the runners were (and to get a much needed beer ticket). I got a text saying they were on the way and would call when they arrived at the pub.
After two hours of sitting in a toy store repeating the words, “No, you can’t have any more money,” I gave up. The previous 24 hours had been painful, and I was on the verge of collapse.
We were on the drive home, when Jay saw a Safeway and said, “Can I have Orange Chicken from the deli for diner?”
“Food good,” I mumbled and pulled into the lot.
The Orange Chicken was gone, but the friendly man behind the counter said he would have another batch out in 15 minutes. Jay assured me it would be worth the wait.
15 minutes of staring at the floor in a chilled Safeway passed, and we went back to the counter. Jay looked at the freshly deposited Orange Chicken and declared, “That’s not what I thought it was. Can we go somewhere else?”
I didn’t kill him. Instead, I said “No. Pick something out that you feel reasonably sure you can keep down.”
With our purchases in hand, we went out to the scenic Safeway parking lot and ate dinner with the heater running. The car smelled of warm dog vomit, dried cow manure, and Safeway burritos.
The rest of the way home, I expected to be pulled over, or have a blowout, but we made it home without further incident and I crawled into bed happy to leave the weekend behind.
Kevin, I know you’re probably 40 years old now, and have forgotten about the culvert incident, but if you’re reading this... I’m really sorry, man.