July 21, `80
Here I am sitting in the Winnipeg youth hostel. I spent the last
two nights and most of yesterday lying in my sleeping bag on the floor
of that vacated granary shed. I couldn’t leave because of the rain,
and now I have pleurisy; anything more than shallow breathing cause’s
pain—no fun. The worst part of getting to Winnipeg was when I hit the
urban areas. That’s when traffic picked up. In fact, I had to take an
alternative route in order to avoid a couple nasty truck drivers.
Well, I didn’t really avoid the nasty one, but before I tell that
story I need to log in my dietary experiment.
I began the day by thinking I wasn’t getting enough roughage, so I
bought a stalk of celery and a jar of peanut butter. By afternoon I
had half the celery gone, and I was beginning to experience severe
stomach craps. I found an outhouse and, over a thirty-minute period,
lost my guts. I never really felt sick, though, so I knew it wasn’t
food poisoning. But for that short period, I was in a lot of pain. I
passed by another picnic area where I spent some more time relieving
myself and then things started to get better. Well, better until I
encountered that nasty trucker.
I was keeping to my six inches of pavement when two sixteen wheelers
rolled up behind me and started playing that old game of “who can be
the first to run the biker into the ditch.” It was potash country and
the trucks were loaded. The first trucker started horning me from
about a quarter mile back. Then he pulled up right on my tail and laid
on his horn. I was riding on a suicide shoulder already. The edge of
the road dropped off into six inches of loose gravel. At any speed
that transition was dangerous, but at fifteen miles an hour, on a
fully loaded ten-speed, that fall would have resulted in a bloody
mixture of flesh, dirt, stone and mangled bicycle.
While the asshole honked, I filled my head with nam myho renge kyo,
and finally he flinched first. As he slowly inched his way past me, I
had already made up my mind that I would not flinch, and I didn’t. I
took a deep breath, and readied myself for the second trucker. He gave
me a couple warning honks and drove on by. He had probably already won
his buddy’s money—I was still there. I wasn’t about to hang around for
a three peat, though. I turned south at the first opportunity.
I still had a ways to go before Winnipeg, and I was looking for a
place to camp when I met another truck driver–a nice one—at a truck
stop. He asked me if I wanted a lift into town. I told him sure, and I
arrived in Winnipeg around 9 p.m. He even dropped me off right at the
youth hostel where I checked in and immediately took a shower. If it
weren’t for that 90-kilometer truck ride, that shower would have had
to wait for another full day of biking.