Day 79

Mexico, NY to Woodgate, NY
$10 :: BF, milkshake
78.87 mi :: 7.07 hr :: 30.6 mph :: 11.0 mph :: 5509 mi

As if that spooky forest wasn’t enough, in the night I stretched my arm over my head & poked my finger on something. When the pain increased, I realized I’d been bitten or stung. With the flashlight I searched for the offender, finding nothing. With no moon, the night was forbiddingly black. I could think of nothing to do but wait and watch for symptoms of poisoning. My stomach was tight, but I think that was just fear. The finger hurt and swelled a bit, but nothing more. I managed to force myself back to sleep. I was helpless without light.

I was woken once more by roving wild turkeys. I angrily scared them away, somehow taking comfort in their panic.

In the morning the finger was no worse. Packing up, I found the culprit in the folds of my clothes bag. A large but otherwise nonthreatening brown spider. Too big to be recluse. I evict him with a new rule: no spiders.

View

Coming out of Camden, I misjudge my direction and turn off of the correct road. This leads me onto a series of peaceful south and east-bound country roads. After lunch in Westernville, a guy streaks past me on a racing bike shouting, “Bon Giorno!”

I meet 28, the road that I have chosen to take me through the Adirondacks, in Ramsen. It starts out noisy and bumpy, but improves when I turn toward the park. Sunday afternoon, my lane is empty and the other lane a constant stream of returning weekenders.

Im looking for a place to take a rest, but all I see are “Not Trespassing,” and “Private” signs. Frustrated, I take off on the first trail that bears a park sign. This calms my nerves well, riding in the silent, signless woods. I realize that I have only one bottle of water, but it’s not enough to turn me back. On I go along the leafy, rocky trail.

A stick in the spokes can cause more damage than anything save a high speed crash. I find this out when I hear a terrible noise and come skidding to a halt. Glancing down to survey the damage, I almost can’t look. The derailleur appears sickeningly mangled, the hanger poking through the spokes, the chain twisted behind the freewheel cassette. The weight of despair falls hard on me here, miles out in the woods. I’ve had a major breakdown. The derailleur will have to be replaced. I’ll be lucky to get the bike moving at all.

But a closer inspection brings back hope. It’s not the derailleur that’s bent, it’s the frame near the dropouts. Carefully I bend it back. The hanger withdraws from the spokes. Amazingly, no spokes are broken. Some careful turning of the freewheel cassette frees the chain. The derailleur cable is frayed, but a few strands still hold. I’m astounded to mount the bike and ride, shifting properly. Only some fine tuning remains. I pack up and continue down the trail.

Sunset

It leads west, but I don’t care. I stop for a walk near a pond and decide to camp there. The trail has turned south. I think I hear a road to the east, but a ways away. The evening moon shines from the sky and the pond both.

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