September 8, 2003
Exhuming the Evidence


I'm unzipping my bike bag on Saturday morning, getting ready to pack for the Iron Horse Trail, when I run across a large foil packet I do not immediately recognize.

Whut the hell?

I pull the package out of the bike bag and poke at it experimentally. It's square and lumpy and hard as a rock, yet surprisingly light in my hand. A brick made out of styrofoam, perhaps? Cautiously, I begin peeling back the layers of foil, one by one. A fine powder drifts to the floor, covering my bicycle shoes like green talcum powder, and I catch a whiff of something that makes me think of Grandma's attic in the summer. Inside the packet, a revolting discovery: the petrified remains of a peanut butter sandwich.

"We need to ride more," David says flatly.

I have no idea how long the sandwich has been in my bike bag. It doesn't even look like a sandwich anymore, frankly: even the peanut butter has turned green and crumbly. I vaguely remember tossing it in my bag earlier this summer, just before we drove up to Fairfield and rode the swamps around Grizzly Island. It was one of those mornings when we were out of Power Bars or Fig Newtons or dried fruit -- our usual riding treats of choice -- and I wanted to pack an emergency snack in case we didn't make it to a store before the ride. Something light, something portable, something easily washed down with lukewarm trail water. So I slapped some Skippy Super Chunk onto two slices of wheat bread, cut it into quarters, wrapped it up in foil and threw it into the bag. 

How long ago was that, anyway? I honestly can't remember. A month? Two months? Three? I don't want to believe that it's been that long. 

But the mummified sandwich in my hand doesn't lie.

It's not like we've completely blown off riding this summer. (Have we?) There have been a handful of short uninspired rides, mostly close to home ... the kind of rides where we've rolled out of bed and hopped on the bikes and made the loop around Bay Farm Island for a couple of hours on Sunday morning. It's not like we've completely lost all riding cred. (Have we?)  Even so, the fact is that this is the first Pack the bikes up/Get in the car/Drive someplace interesting/Ride until everything hurts excursion we've been on since ... well ... since whenever this peanut butter sandwich was created, apparently. I don't use the bike bag unless we're going on a road trip: everything I need for the local rides usually fits neatly into the back pocket of my jersey.

"Should I take a picture of it?" I ask David, as we stand there in the middle of the kitchen, eyeballing what's left of the sandwich. It's really quite fascinating,  in a revolting/nerdy/scientific sort of way, I mean. I'm thinking it would make one heck of a *FootNotes* photo.

But David says no, no pictures ... just throw it away right now please. He actually looks a little green around the gills as he says this. Is it possible that I have developed a higher tolerance for mold than my big studly husband? (Perhaps as a result of all those seepage charts and remediation reports at The Dirt Company?) So I scoop up the whole mess and give it a proper Christian burial, at the very bottom of the kitchen garbage pail, and then I unsnap the bag from the back of my bike and dump the contents onto the kitchen counter. 

Lip balm. Kleenex. A portable patch kit. A spare bicycle tube. A little Zip-Loc baggie full of Tylenol and Benadryl and leftover Christmas candy. I wipe everything down with a clump of damp paper towels, even the the lip balm and the tissue packet and the bag of candy, and I sponge out the interior of the bike bag. Once it has been thoroughly fumigated, I pack everything back into the bag and snap it onto the back of my bicycle, where it fits snuggly right behind the Butt Deluxe. Then I begin looking around the kitchen for an appropriate trail snack. My original plan was to slice up a couple of green apples and wrap them in foil.

Now I'm thinking that might not be such a great idea.

Instead, I grab ten dollars out of my purse and stuff it into the back pocket of my bike jersey. "We're going to stop at the store and pick up something on the way," I tell David. He nods in wordless agreement. 

And with that, we roll our bikes out the door and head for the Subaru, and for our first *real* ride in god knows how long.



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i'm going to be off wheat bread for a while, too.