Hitchhiking Colorado- Hitch-cycling under a Full Moon in Broad Daylight

Friday, May 31, 2013

Time: About 2:00

Wait time: Over 2 hours (too long)


I decided to take my Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle back to the Springs, so I ride the lightrail as far south as it goes to Lincoln exit, and like a crazed cyclist, jump on the Interstate and ride in the “bike lane.”  It takes me a good forty minutes or so to get to my normal hitch spot in Castle Rock, and it doesn’t dawn on me what a distance that actually is that Kathy drives me out to every week until I cover it through pedal pumping.  Finally arriving at the spot, I lean my bike against some guardrails and pull out my sign, extend the thumb.

I’ve been waiting for about 20 minutes, when a jeep pulls off to the shoulder along the frontage road– and out hops a young guy with long nappy hair and a yellow bandana on, and he comes walking over to me, a happy expression on his face, carrying one apparently heavy duffel-bag, cradled in both his arms. 

What’s going on?!, I call out to him.  This is the first time I’ve run into another hitchhiker at my spot.  ” Hey man, my name is Hoagie,” he says, we slap a high five.  We’re both cracking up, something about the guy just makes me laugh, his lanky appearance and cool demeanor. 

” I’m hitching to Canyon City for the summer,” he tells me.  “Got a job as a raft guide for the summer there… stayed with my friend in Denver last night, and originally I hitched from Flagstaff… it’s a big commuter place, lots of hippies out there.”  He cracks himself up.

“Man, my friend and I smoked some dabs, just before I left,” he says.  “That shit got me real high.”  I laugh, ask him what dabs is.

“Oh, it’s this really potent pot,” tells me.  “Like 25% THC, and you smoke with a torch and some crazy shit.”  He tells me that he grew up in Hawaii (somehow I instinctively knew this, strangely), and that he has been going to school in Flagstaff, Arizona. “It’s cool, you know, I’ve got the whole dorm room experience and all, made some brothers for life sort-of-thing, you know.”

People keep passing us by, and I imagine that our luck getting a ride is not going to be easy with two guys and a bike.  ” If we were a dude and a chick, we’d probably get picked up right away,” I say, ” maybe you should stuff yourself or something.  I mean, a dude and a chick apparently works great for hitching, but two dudes and a bike seems a bit weird to passerby I think.” 

We’re both laughing, especially Hoagie, who is laughing super hard and jumping up in down.  “Man! Can I quote that man?  That is some funny shit!”  Sure thing, I tell him.

Plenty of trucks with open beds and huge cabs, enough to fit two elephants hitchhiking and a bicycle simply pass us by– some actually slow down to look at us and then speed up once they have passed us.  ” This area sucks,” Hoagie says, ” freakin’ wealthy people.  They’re so complacent, and don’t think about anybody but themselves.  America sucks… I hate when people pass you by and look at you like you’re the scum of the Earth or something… they’ve never had to, and never will have to hitch a ride… they don’t have to work.”

Despite the fact that nobody stops, and plenty of people that could have simply don’t, we both have fun cracking jokes as people pass us by and talking about travels.  He tells me that he just got back from a trip to somewhere in Southeast Asia with some of his friends, about his former band that was classified as swag rock that did some small tours in California. 

” It really sucks that America is full of so many assholes and dickheads,” he says, as another perfectly able truck floors it on passed us.  Oh, this one– this one is going to stop!, I say.  “Don’t be so positive, man,” he says, and we both crack up. 

Ah, here comes another dickhead around the corner in the silver truck, I say.  He comes racing around the corner, and the old man in the drivers’ seat give us a strange look, as if we were a couple aliens that somehow crash landed– anything but human.  “Man, that one was a wrinkly dick,”  Hoagie cracks. 

It’s after about fifteen minutes of standing there, that Hoagie has an epiphany and asks me, ” Did I have two packs here when I came to this spot?,” he asked.  He reveals his highness.  No man, I tell him, chuckling, that must have been some really good stuff… you only had one pack.

Hoagie laughs, says, “man, I’m gonna have to call my ride.  How can I forget that, man?!  That’s like forgetting my life… my whole life is in that pack… notebooks, journals, pictures, everything!”
Inevitably, we decide that we’re probably not going to get picked up any time soon, and it’s best that we split up at different hitch spots.  Hoagie walks across the frontage road, and I stay on the merge ramp, as I was at the spot first– proper hitchhiker’s etiquette.  I wait there another hour or so– until finally, I get frustrated at all the people that simply pass on by, and decide to start pedaling further south myself.  It’s the stagnation that irritates me; standing there not moving, when if one of the trucks had pulled over, I would probably have been in Colorado Springs by now— oh well, too bad, that’s just too bad. 

I suppose that I’ve learned from this experience that when confronted with the choice of waiting around for a ride or cycling, I will ultimately choose the latter– the freedom of cycling sure beats relying on somebody to pick you up that may never do so.  Although there is a certain kind of self-reliance in hitching– one has to have enough trust in people to be willing to hop into the car with a stranger– yet still, true freedom is having the will power and choice to go about as you please; nothing does this like a bicycle. 

It’s actually pretty depressing that none of those guys with an empty truck stopped to offer a ride, and it’s easy when your hitching and this happens to have a grim outlook on things, but sometimes it’s best just to say screw ’em all, and move onwards. On the way out, I pass by Hoagie and slap him a high five, and he shouts out, “contact me dude!  I’ll let you ride the rapids for free and we’ll do a ‘Booze Cruise!”  Good luck, dude!, I shout back.

It’s a cold, cold world on a hot, hot summer day as I cruise on down the frontage road, the Rock Mountains in the distance, Pikes’ Peak commanding its presence in the distance, the tip covered with a coating of ice and snow.  It’s hard to believe that it’s still that cold up there when it’s this hot down here.  It’s a cold, cold world on a hot, hot day; I stop and ask a couple men checking the wheels on a trailer with plenty of room and definitely heading south; the old man just ignores me like I’m some kind of nuisance to his agenda.  I wonder what it means to live like that.

I stop and politely ask a man who is working on camper, his kids and wife in the back seat if he has room going south.  His pants are down, his ass crack showing about a quarter moon and his gut hanging out about a full moon.  ” Sorry, I’ve got my kids in the back–“, he says, fumbling an excuse.  I wait off the exit and hitch some more, and the man ends up driving off, moving around me like I’m some kind of rock alongside the merge ramp; just another happy family on a spectacular American vacation; I hear the wife complaining about something in the backseat and there is an ugly air between the both of them that screams “we’ve been on the road together too long, oh damn you, honey.”

Ironically, I pass by them along the highway about three miles up the road; the man’s ass crack showing for the entire world of trucks passing by that refuse to pick up hitchhikers.  I wave to them and move on.

I pedal all the way from Denver into Monument, and my legs feel somewhere between sediment rock and near-liquid jello (yes, this is possible) as I roll into the nearest Taco Bell and proceed to order just about every cheap Mexican imitation food they’ve got in their restaurant.  I’m so hungry I could eat a pound of plastic, and I more or less do, in the form of tacos and chalupas.

I call my friend Kelsie, and she eventually makes it out to pick me up as I sit there reading Why Does the World Exist?, by Jim Holt.  She arrives, and we proceed to use our ingenuity to tie my Surly bike to the top of her car using only some heavy pink nylon rope that she has inside her jeep– the rest of the vehicle is filled with instruments.  I wrap it around the rack, and as we barrel on down the highway, I take a piece of the rope, mummify it around my hand until the rope is taut and my circulation about ceases, and cross my fingers that this rope doesn’t snap.  (Really, it was on there pretty darn good.)

We make it back to the house, and that’s when the adventure feels rewarding, and we get down to business, working on a new song and creating some music. 

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