Hey, you. Yeah, you there, good lookin’!
Santa bring ya what’cha asked for? We’ve still yet to tear into our gifts, as we await a flood of family parachuting in from various parts of the Midwest.
You could say I’m a bit spoiled. It’s been a great year. I got to tour over 4,000 miles on a new bike, I got to write some stories that I can point to as a source of pride—both for work and pleasure—and my dog just learned a new trick a few weeks ago.
The real reason I’m spoiled? Christmas came early for me, guys. It came back in July.
It was as good a place as any: Monarch Pass, Colorado. It was Day 43 of my tour across the U.S. Dirty and I were ships passing in Kansas, as we’d talked about meeting up but never did. He was well into Missouri spreading Oskar Blues cheer. I was plodding my way over the highest elevation I’d hit on the whole trip: 11,312 ft.
Now, I know a lot of you OG DCers are all too familiar with this part of the world. For me, a kid in Chicago, I don’t get that high unless it’s in a 737 or if it’s a water bong as long as a golf club.
As it appears in my travel log:
Day 43: Monday, July 27th.
Salida, CO, to Gunnison, CO
After kicking it at the Simple Hostel in Salida for a day off, we awoke for the prolonged climb out of Salida. It wasn’t easy for me. My legs weren’t having a good row of it, nor were my lungs:
Luckily traffic wasn’t aggravating the way I expected going up over U.S 50. Aside from the occasional big-rig downshift as a truck passed by, we managed the arduous slow-motion pedal over pedal along the shoulder. Eventually, seven hours later, my riding compadres (John from Ohio and Michael from England) and I made it to the summit. Hooray, etc. But, ho-boy, that descent. I was drooling over the ribbon of pavement that found its way to Gunny. John was a bit gun-shy to bomb the pass, and Michael was still messing with a pannier, so I took off and didn’t hit my brakes for a few thousand feet. The wind hit as I topped out around 38 mph with such intensity that I imagined the rush of wind skydivers experience when they exit the plane. Maintaining speed with each switchback hinged on me suspending my weight on that outside pedal, like racing a crit on a freight ship. I didn’t want it to end. There was a view, however, that arrested me. So I slowed up, pulled over, and figured I’d get a few photos of my buddies as they descending by me: Michael went by, and I got a few shots of him overtaking a logging truck. The fading groan of the truck’s engine gave way to a different engine’s voice; perhaps that of a veteran pickup truck that’s been around this block before.
And as that little white pickup—a Ford Ranger? A Toyota Hilux?—approached, its transmission squealed, as if excited, with that exposed badge of a sunlit elbow signaling that this guy was gonna pull over. He pointed at me, flipped a bitch in the middle of the road, and drove toward me. He got out of the truck, proffered his right hand, and said, “Hey man. I’m Pistol Pete. Want a beer?”
Mother fucker gave me a PBR before I realized who he was.
Wait a minute. Pistol Pete? Pistol…Pete? The OG? Fuck!
This was it. It was him.
The original Drunkcyclist. This dude. I just. Like. The respect I have. I…shit.
He’s the man who’s toured through cartel-ravaged Mexico. Ridden gnar-gnar backroads in AZ. The dude who sent dispatches to the Big Yellow Page like this:
Well fuck, Back in Mazatlan. After the southland it seems cold here. Of course it is a tropical place . I was out at the end of the suburban sprawl (yeah, here too) today and found an ocelot trackin’ me. First one I’ve seen in like eight years.
The bulldozers have reached right up to the edge of the jungle. Or to be more correct, Sinaloan thornscrub. You get to a riparian area and it’s jungle though. Holy Moroni, this is good ridin’! So anyhow this ocelot must have had his hangout right nearby and been rudely surprised to find a gravel pit in the neighborhood. I was sneakin’ round lookin’ for a route through the area when, dismounted and pushing, I see him blasting out of a deep shade and making for the weeds. Checking his tracks, he’s a good sized beast. Front paw prints are as wide as my hand!
I sniff around a little more then head over to a ramada I saw on the way up to talk to the workers there. They seem stoked to hear about wildness still about, bein’ a couple of country boys.
I’m back here due to a dental emergency, fuck me. I got a dentist, WAY better than the one I’m forced to visit in the States, fucker shoots me straight. Last couple days it’s been a drag to be around me. Good thing that license to kill is still in the works, or I’da smoked a lot of “innocent” motherfuckers. Molar pain can make a man touchy, don’cha know.
And we introduced each other to each other. One DC writer to another. Over beers.
Pistol Pete was on his way back to Tucson, he’d said. With the Puglsey and that other bike I can’t remember on his roof rack, I knew that wherever he ended up would be a hoot. He told me tales of living in Mexico. Plans of touring down through Central America, which I have no doubt the pobrecito would pull off. The essence of his words and advice I can’t articulate, but the effect was part Mr. Miyagi, part Yoda and part God-Chong.
Pistol Pete, I’ve been reading your stories for years. There was some cosmic alignment that perhaps I wasn’t aware of when I first started writing for DC until, alas, I met Pistol Pete.
If you got something rad for Christmas, and perhaps it was bike- or beer-related, you know where it came from. It wasn’t Santa. It was Pistol Pete.
Pete, wherever you are, Merry Christmas. You are the original Santa Claus. Thanks for the cold ones, and keeping it real.by