Betsy Michael of Sheboygan, Wisconsin (my hometown) has written a book entitled the Green Steed. The book is a self published memoir of bicycle touring throughout Wisconsin and the world. Ms. Michael's bike, the "Green Steed" is on display at the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Her book is also available for purchase at the library.
The following is an excerpt from the Sheboygan Press article that reprinted part of Ms. Michael's book with her permission:
The first fresh morning of our trip, at eight a.m., after four days of arrangements, seventeen bikers departed. We checked in and out with the sag wagon ("the office") after depositing our gear with them at their campsite near Merida airport. Our duffel included pop tent, air mattress and a blanket each, tin Sierra Club cups, two red enamel plates, spoon, fork each and personal items (many Wash 'N Dri packets); plus two quarts of rum we'd purchased the night before.
I carried my daily gear in one red pannier at the back of my seat: water bottle, maps, package of square-sheets toilet paper, cosmetics, journal, tire repair kit, knife and rain gear. Jim carried two panniers, the extra hanging from his cross bar with tools and medicine kits. We wore bike shorts and shoes, long-sleeved shirts, dark glasses, and a visor cap. I wore these same clothes every day with clean underwear I'd rinsed out the night before in a warm rain pool.
Eagerly I climbed on my steed, as natural to me now and as familiar, welcomed and yearned for, as the limbs of a lover.
My leather seat was wide, soft, spring supported, tractor like, my handlebars, conventional widespread. I sat upright, viewing the entire scene, Queen Elizabeth parading on a smart, show horse.
The ride was glorious! More than I'd anticipated. The early morning smelled of tilled earth, moist and warm, perfumed from blossoms in gardens along the roadside. The biking was easy! I was floating, flying, past truck gardens, peasants working, sandaled natives walking to town alongside loaded burros, or riding rusty rackety, improvised velocipedes.
At Muna, 35 miles along, we turned southeast, skirting lush, green mountains (bypassing the south road to Uxmal), into a rural, agrarian countryside with irrigation ditches and fat, grazing, mocha-colored cattle grazing in the road and beside it. Great, plumed vultures continually cleaned carrion from the road; tiny yellow and white sulphur butterflies floated around us and our path, thick as fluttering confetti.
We stopped for the ole Sierra Club lunch: make-your-own tuna sandwiches, cheese, peanut butter, sardines, pickles, fruit, and Halizoned/salted/orange Kool-Aid. Forty miles out I was still refreshed, untired, unchafed, unbored and elated at my stamina.
We rode through tiny village after tiny village, each with its characteristic central town zocalo, yellow and red blooming cannas, concrete benches with peeling blue paint set with picture tiles - and always dominating, the church.
The faster riders in the lead, drew the natives out to watch. Old men, young men, women with bare-bottomed babies by the hand, small boys, shy little girls and older, with pure Mayan faces and clean, white embroidered huipiles. They lined the roads or stood in the doorways of their huts, watching silently with surprise, smiles, nods or giggles, kindly, and bashful. What an oddity we must have been.
I returned smiles and nods with smiles, nods and waves. When a gathering of school kids laughed at me and shouted a greeting I made a friendly, funny face, then crossed my eyes. They roared with laughter. I never heard wise-cracking or put-downs, nor malice or hostility in their reactions.
I laughed aloud at the incredibility of my actually being on such an improbable adventure, in such an improbable place, with such improbable transportation, at such an improbable age and era. What must the modest, retiring native women (and men!) think of this gray-haired, red-shirted female, in navy blue shorts and tennies, gaily speeding through their settlement on a bicycle? They couldn't know I was John Wayne riding into all those little western towns on my trail horse, in all those romantic western movies of my youth.
Jim, way ahead of me, had sprinted for miles, relishing the push, daydreaming along alone when an unfamiliar noise close behind him didn't fade or stop. His bike wasn't rattling, but the noise persisted. Slowly he turned to see just behind him on his left, a young, smiling Mayan boy, twelve or fourteen years old, on his squeaky two wheeler, eagerly, energetically, sprinting with him. Wordlessly they raced each other ten miles into Picu.
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