I am not Lance Armstrong

I am not lance armstrong. I did not win the Tour de’ France. These words were running through my head this past fourth of july, as I found myself meandering, lost somewhere in the dense foliage of south-western madison.
On the surface, the plan was deceptively simple. In the midst of painting a huge oil painting for my mother (of two parakeets – the canvas is huge) I suddenly ran out of linseed oil. Since this is not exactly something you can pick up at your local convinience store, I knew it was time to set off for the local art supply shop. Now, being the fourth of july and all, most stores were closed – the ones that were open happen to be located in shopping malls off campus.
Hilldale shopping mall is not all that far from my house (a few miles at most), so I thought it would be a (and i remember these words distinctively going through my head) “splendid idea” to “catch some sun and bike over to the mall”. So I hopped on my bike and started off to the mall. Estimated travel distance? 2.5 miles.
No sooner am I off towards the main avenue (university avenue) when I notice a small, previously overlooked bike path off to my side. I’ve never ridden on the “Southwest bike path’ before, but it does look like it’s angling off in the correct direction as the mall. Moreover, it’s nice and flat, paved in bike-friendly asphalt.
Here’s where things go horribly awry. You see, as many (my dissapointed father first and foremost) can attest, I have absolutely no ability when it comes to manly things, like hunting, fishing, BBQ’ing, or you know, figuring out basic directions (like “North”). So off I head in what I think is the general direction of the mall on the Southwest bike path.
Which brings us back to where we started this little story – me, huffing and puffing my way up the steepest damn hills known to man (since when are there MOUNTAINS on bike paths…!?), lost in a maze of trees, houses, abandoned weed-infested parking lots, crumbling commercial buildings, somwhere in a part of madison i have never seen before (which is quite remarkable – it’s only about 200,000 people, and i’ve been here more than five years…!), my aching thighs on fire as i strive to maintain my wavering balance as i painfully inch up a hill, traffic zooming by me at alarming speeds, repeating over and over in my head “I AM NOT LANCE ARMSTRONG!! I DID NOT WIN THE TOUR DE’ FRANCE. SO WHAT THE [bleep] AM I DOING HERE….!?”
I should take this time to mention something – it is about 229 degrees celsius outside, with the sun blazing directly overhead, humid as all hell. My shirt is soaked in sweat. My throat is parched. I think I’m suffering from heatstroke.
Then i run out of water.
At this point, death begins to look like a serious possibility. I literally have no idea where I am. I am feeling faint, and my ability to propel my body under my own power is becoming increasingly uncertain. I am being baked alive under a merciless sun. And I have no more water.
Did I mention I have run out of water…?
As my vision begins to cloud over in various shades of gray, i start to try and figure out if I have the guts to just walk up to some complete stranger’s house, sweaty and lobster red and just ask them for a glass of water. They’ll probably shoot me, no doubt, so to my fevered brain it becomes a question of whether I want to be shot and die or else spontaneously start convulsing from the heat and die.
Finally, in desperation I flag down a passing motorist and ask them “which way hilldale mall is”. To which the gentleman gives a shocked raise of the eyebrow, and politely informs me that I am many many many miles away. He then points me in the complete opposite direction that i was going.
To make a long story short, armed with directions infinitely more reliable than my own evolutionarily-shameful miniscule hunter-gatherer skills, I finally make it to hilldale mall. Actual distance travel? ha! probably something like 27 miles. With no water.
I take the bus home.
Now listening to: “Kyoko Fukada – Piano Piece?” (Actually, I don’t know the name of this song, but Wantin introduced it to me. It’s beautiful!!!)
9:25 pm

One Reaction

  1. What the bleep

    I start to try and figure out if I have the guts to just walk up to some complete stranger’s house, sweaty and lobster red and just ask them for a glass of water.