The alarm on the cell (aka mobile in the UK) rang at 7am this morning; an irritating ring-tone generally reserved for the appreciation of musical youth usually 25 years our junior. Reaching over to mute this dulcet tone, Anthony refused to allow this rude awakening to fashion the remainder of the day. Eventually rolling out of bed at 8am with a forced smile, stretched limbs and a deep breath we announce, “today is a birthday and it will be glorious.” Little did we know that the man upstairs had already laid out his plans for the birthday boy?
Moving around the bedroom psyching ourselves up for the perfect day we noticed the floor area around the front door was soaking wet. Confused and thinking what could have caused this Arthur C. Clarkes “Mysterious World” we looked out of the window to see the Sun and Sky had disappeared and had been replaced by a thick curtain of gray wetness. According to the army of hotel staff sweeping pools of water away from the building, it had been raining all night, 14 inches in total and unfortunately the gaps under the doors where unable to keep the flood out. “Never mind”, we said “we’ve cycled in rain before”. So, ignoring the wet weather ahead of us, we set out to face another tough day. “At least it’s warm” said Kat. Indeed, it was warm, but just 10 meters into our south westerly ride into Marathon we soon realised the 20mph north easterly wind was going to be a problem. The road forward was tough but we soldiered on with hope in our hearts, lactic acid in our legs and rain in our face. Thinking the ride could not get any worse, we were 19 miles in when “BANG!” Anthony’s rear tyre exploded. Abruptly coming to a halt and pulling over into the hard shoulder, Anthony changed his inner tube whilst Kat held on to a nearby tree to stop being blown off the road. We were rolling again 20 minutes later. With a slight respite in the rain but continued sky-diving head winds, we managed to get a brief glimpse of the beauty of the keys, when “BANG!”, Anthony’s rear tyre exploded again. Still trying to force a smile, the inner tube was examined and discarded, the previous duff tube was repaired and refitted. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the cause of the rear tyre punctures was indentified… it was bad news ‘side wall tyre failure’, which basically meant we were up shit creek without a paddle. With no spare tyres we conferred for 30 minutes and decided to try and hitch a ride into Marathon! If it wasn’t for PC Plod (aka County Sherriff) seeing our thumbs aloft and pulling over to explain that what we were attempting to do was illegal, then reaffirming that we were indeed up shit creek, before speeding off down the highway, we may have been somewhere else right now. Collecting our thoughts and wishing we had paid more attention at those ‘Contingency Planning’ seminars, we assessed our options. So with bikes shops 28 miles south to Marathon (our final destination) and 4 miles back north to Tavernier and a 60 mph storm fast approaching the very spot were we stood, we decided to call a cab for Anthony to get a new tyre in Tavernier. The cab turn up 25 minutes later and drove Anthony to Tavernier and as luck would have it, he arrived to find the shop had closed down, despite that fact their answering machine clearly said they were open…ahhhhhh! So on the way back and 35 dollars worse off Anthony was driving back in the cab with the cab driver, who then suggested “I tell you what, the best way into Marathon would be by bus, it’ll cost you 3 dollars each, I’d charge you 75 dollars if you’d prefer”, Anthony replied “cool we’ll catch the bus. “oh but wait” announced the driver, “there’s the bus you need, just ahead of us”. “well pass it than an drive faster”, suggested Anthony. Taking Anthony’s advice, the driver drove faster. We reached Kat just in time to pay the man, get our bikes together, stand in the road and miss the bus…Anthony started to laugh hysterically!
In true London fashion a second bus appeared out of the mist and was just about to pass us, if it wasn’t for Anthony kicking at the moving vehicle and shouting STOP!... it stopped. With bikes and bags packed with anger into the under carriage, we boarded the bus with 10 and 20 dollar notes in our pockets, tried communicating with the driver who only spoke Spanish and ended up paying 10 dollars for the 30 minute ride. Anthony sat in his seat rocking back forth reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman sitting next to Tom Cruise in Rain Man. Slightly worse for wear we arrived at the bus terminus, 2 miles away from the hotel. After saying “adios” to the driver, we alighted, threw the bikes and bags off the bus and were immediately confronted by a tattooed street drunk compelled to tell Anthony how he hated dudes of color and that Kat was a …actually we won’t tell you what he said about Kat. Those who have known Anthony a while will know it takes a lot to get him riled and violent. Problem is this guy was pushing all the right “get Anthony riled buttons”, so much so that another guy in the bus station saw the imminent outcome and called the Local Sherriff, who arrived just as the drunk saw the red mist in Anthony’s eyes and made a speedy exit. Kat reported the incident to the Sherriff then we walked the 2 miles in the pissing rain to our hotel….
… I believe the man upstairs felt he had dealt us enough bad luck as things now took a turn for the good. The Hotel room was lovely: we found a totally awesome bike shop in Marathon (thanks Jeremy, Cindy, Mike and Porter the dog of Overseas Outfitters for being brilliant and repairing the bikes): we ate in a lovely restaurant; and walking back to the Hotel we saw the constellation of Orion!
All that said, Anthony is happy to see in another birthday and is thankful of what keeps him going; Joseph, Family, wonderful friends and of course Kat.