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Report1999-10-24

Penn State Part 1

Date: 1999-10-24
By: Rob

This is Part 1 of 3, I didn't want to keep you all waiting, so....

Thursday, 12:42pm.

I guess it all started when Rob from Mainly Bikes (1-610-668-2453) called me on Thursday. I already had to pick up the bikes, except Jon's was still being worked on. As I'm listening to the message Rob had left me, I start to realize that major things are wrong with Jon's bike. Rob mentions "broken", "call me ASAP", "serious", and "I'd like to speak with you before Jon." As if the phone was already connected to my ear, I get Rob on the other end of the receiver. He breaks it to me like I broke it to Jon's bike, straight-up. He tells me that the Judy SL shock on the bike is completely bent. I try to compromise and ask if it is at all rideable for this weekend. He expresses to me that if you let go of the bars, the bike cuts "HARD" right. The possibility of rebounding to the right is also an issue. Apparently the crown is bent, in addition to the internals and the stansion tube on the left side. I get off the phone and call Jon, even though Rob had just spoke with him. We arrange a time to go to the shop and pick out a fork together (how cute!). While at the shop, we get this sweet fork, some what of an up-grade. Cha-ching. I drop off Zephs' wheel. Cha-ching. And I pay for Dan's Diamondback and my multi-lingual-pivotless-full-suspension-not-such-a-3-speed-anymore Trek. Cha-ching. Jon and I leave the shop. After much hectic miscellaneous scheduling issues, I manage to get the weekend itinerary out by 3:45am early Friday morning.

It's 12:45pm. Friday.'

My phone is ringing, and I really don't want to be here to answer it, but my curiosity is eating at me like a carnivorous beast. "Hello, is Jil Appleby there please?" I respond with, "Uhhh, excuse me... Oh...", it's the guy from the rental place, he is looking for Jil because we had to pick up the cars at12:00pm and this guy was sweatin' me for Jil's info. So I give him her number and before I can ask about the car I reserved, he hangs up. As I get ready to go pick up the car I had reserved, apparently for 12:00pm, the rental guy calls me back again, this time looking for me just to reiterate the fact that I have to pick up the car. Thank You Colombo! I get there and only rent one car. I get the keys, and take off in my new Chevy Malibu - "The car GM knew I would drive." With 8000 miles on it, and only a $100 deductible (in case of an accident), I speed off toward Fresh Fields to score some wholesome goodness for our team. I get there and slam the car into this parking space before 8 other drivers can blink. I jump out and pretend to rub a spot off the hood, and strut over to the entrance. Like a kid in a candy store, I start looking at all the great food I can purchase. July was the last time I was at one of those "market" places. I grab this bunch of freshly ripened bananas, and the lady who's cart I'm taking them from starts at me like a bull through a china shop. No seriously, she had nice bananas, but I didn't touch them! I grabbed my own bunch and moved on to the yogurt. While passing the cereal isle, I snagged a huge bag of blue corn chips and some wholesome organic salsa, medium. Dude I was in Southern California all over again! I get to the bagels, and pick out some good ones, I think of power bars and I seek them out like an AFT agent on Ted Kasinski. I notice that they had the boxes all open and individually priced, so I take an entire case. I get to the cashier and instead of dropping mad "G's" on the food, I flex it. I hop in my phat ride and roll back to my pad. On my way back, I try to get around the circle at the art museum, but get stopped at this light with 75 idiots blocking the way for all! I anticipate the light, and like the great Mario Andretti, zip-zoom, I cut up the middle, around the fools, and throw it in the right lane and score a pole position for the Spring-Garden bridge. Before I realize, I'm in a parking place in front of Kelly Hall listening to Bush - "Chemicals Between Us." I jump out, only after that one car tries to side swipe my pant leg. I still have to pack, not to mention that I forgot to put my laundry in the dryer before I left... s***!

It's 4:15pm.

I rustle up some clothing, toss in some gear, and grab my equipment to ride. I meet Jil, Trace and Lou in front of Kelly and Myers. I pull the car up to Lou's Explorer, and pop the trunk, almost dropping the keys into that little storm-drain grate/cess-pit. Once my heart starts beating again, I toss my stuff in the trunk, and run back for my half dry laundry. While in my room, I notice that the directions to Penn St. are just laying there, on my desk. I run back to the cars, and by this time Dan, Derr, Zeph and Jean, and Jake are all there too. We are all in awe of Jake's 43 lbs. of shear downhilling bliss. It looks like a motorcycle with the engine missing. While riding it around, I notice a resemblance to that of a full suspension Lazy-Boy (not that I've ever had one on wheels or anything). Now we all want one (a downhill bike, silly)! Jon shows up about the same time as Mike and Andrew, and tells me that while Rob was replacing the fork, he noticed that the head-set was all beat-the-hell-up. Something wrong with the bearings. Cha-ching. (There goes that road bike I always wanted) Just after Jean leaves, Zeph starts getting embarrassing on us. He is soooooooooo incredibly stoked to go to Penn St. that it actually looks as though he is shadow boxing. As Derr loads the bikes we proceed to tie Zeph down with them in the back of Derr's truck. No really, the thought crossed our minds. Our convoy of vehicles is obstructing traffic so much that there is complete immobility on Race St. And yet Zeph continues to throw nubs. Like the officers in cops, the 11 of us all huddle, agree on our strategic plan, and "break" for our vehicles ("Go, Go, Go!").

After five.

At about 5:15pm on Friday, we head for the ultimate in driving experiences, The Schuykill Expressway. Realizing that Jon only has 25 miles left in his car, we stop in Conshohocken for gas, and oh... so much more. Jon gives me the old bent shock I bought off of him for about $300. Derr parks on the wrong side of the parking lot, and everyone else is checking out one of two females at the pumps. As if we couldn't be more delayed, we reassemble the convoy, and head for Harrisburg for dinner. Only after cutting off multiple cars, and making a few evasive maneuvers to get back onto 76W. Hhhhooonnnnnnnkkkkk! After awhile, it's dark, and definitely near Harrisburg, Derr leads my car off an exit, pulls over and runs over to me. He pulls out his cell and gets Lou on the phone who is at the last exits' toll booth. Apparently, you have to take 233, or 81 to 322? So much for the accuracy of the Penn St. Directions. We flip a U-turn and hit 76E. We exit, and hit the tolls, only I'm on the opposite side of the road, and cut across 5 lanes to get to the others, and damn nearly rear-end Jon (who's in reverse) while pulling up to the shoulder. We agree on to stop for food "NOW!" as Zeph throws (through Derrs' and my car windows) some candy bar at me, hitting me in the shoulder. Like blood-hounds Lou and Derr just know where the restaurant is. I think we made a max of two turns and pull up to a "Bob Evans." Severely doubting this place (since I have absolutely never heard of it before), we pull into the lot, rather hard. Our platoon enters this place and the hostess, Margerie (for lack of remembering her real name), asks us in this 20-years-of-smoking voice, "how many are ya?" "11." As we are all waiting, Zeph confesses that he and Derr had a bag of snickers bars, you know... the "Fun-Sized" ones. After about 20 minutes and serving 4 parties later, we get a wonderful set of tables conveniently tucked away in the back corner. They must know Zeph. Out of sight, out of mind. With our menus, we get a wad of silverware and napkins. Shari, our waitress takes our drink orders, and Derr starts to fill out a nearby comment card, explaining, in detail, the full experience of Margerie's lack of hostessing. We get the drinks and while Derr is joking with the waitress, he is the only one with rootbeer, so she calls him "odd-ball." Eventually we get our meals, only after the still-warm-from-the-heat-lamp rolls and biscuits come out. Those Biscuits are bangin'! Some of our dishes came with salads, others with soup (French onion), they were goooood. After I finished my meat-loaf and baked potato, several biscuits, Jon's baked potato, and Derr's remaining bowtie pasta with chicken strips, we decide to order this eye opening pumpkin pie! Like Alan Greenspan, we see the most economical opportunities; we order two pies, and eat a few (6) pieces between us. It was so damn fresh! We throw down some cash, and a bunch extra for our unjustly underpaid waitress, and hit the road.

Quarter to Ten.

We take advantage of the night and speed towards State College, even though 322 had mass construction. The truckers are driving like mad men, and the lanes are as narrow as the LA freeway. As we hit this long grade right before our destination, we come across this big gray van with bikes on it. Derr and Lou take off to intercept it, and start to pass when they realize that it is our buddies from U. Penn. All three vehicles take off, and I just sit back and watch with only a sixteenth of a tank of gas left. Scouring for a gas station, we find one like an oasis in the desert, only after we see a bunch that are closed. Not aware that during the stations' "shift change", the "please pay first" sign does not apply. I find myself standing in the line with Billy-Sue, Bobby-John, and Ed. Standing in his over-all's, Johnny-Ray looks back at me from behind the cash register, and torts, "ya don't need ta paey ferst durn' a shift change." I walk back to the car and think, "that was a waste of about 5 minutes of my life." So I pump out $12.50 of the usual octane and go back inside to pay. When I do I ask for a receipt. By this time Johnny-Ray is counting out his drawer, and Mary-Jo is "figurin'" out the change for a $20 for $12.50 of gas on a pocket calculator. I really don't know way I bothered to ask, but apparently I wanted to waste another 5 minutes when I said, "can I get a receipt, please?" "Sorry!" exclaims Mary-Jo, "I can't do that... it's a shift change." By this point I felt like shifting that change drawer, but I refrained and left without the receipt that these two couldn't have produced if it was preprinted and handed to them.

11:15pm.

Like the Nittany Lion, we took off down S. Atherton St. looking for the Ramada Inn, the only place in town that wasn't booked. The football game was away, too. We get in, and meet up with Matt, he had already checked in at 9:00pm, and so did Lou and Derr. I get the remainder of the rooms, get all the card keys and the like, and yet they still seem to skip giving us a room. We finally all settle for our rooms, and Matt, Dan and I cruise up the street to "Jubilee Foods" for some film and additional bagels. Even though the fresh air was remarkable, I had to vent about all the crap I was dealing with this week (unlike this email, I won't go into detail). After closing the store, and taking their last singles, we return. After all the little mountain bikers are all nestled in their beds, I hit mine.

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