Monday, November 4, 2013

Testing my Metal: The Last Straw

Really, metal thieves? The drinking fountains? Really?

About a mile into my ride, I realized I forgot to take a water bottle. This is a rare error for me, since one of the fundamental laws of riding (or hiking) successfully/safely/happily/alive in the desert is to take plenty of water. Always. But on this slightly overcast afternoon, I had planned a route with several drinking fountains, and the temps were below 80, so I thought, what the heck.

Until I reached the first watering station, and found that the metal thieves had recently stolen the bronze-looking bowls from the drinking fountains. I ruled out purposeful maintenance or orderly removal by pushing the button and noting that the precious liquid still emitted from inside the podium. "!@##@* !&*@$# !!*%$@," I said (a direct quote).

Give me a brake

They've struck along here before. My initial reaction on seeing this was not pleasant, or generous, or kind, or even-minded. I was, I think, understandably angry at the sheer sociopathic insect-like desperation of the theft. I wondered what traditional desert cultures do to people who befoul the oasis. But, after brief reflection, I also knew that the force of my reaction was due in part to my own anger at myself for forgetting water and relying on the spring at the oasis to be running.

My quick recovery and call to action was this: enough of riding along the canal filled with water and caring about running out of water. I'm going to get one of those LifeStraw personal water filters, and some tubing, and stuff them down inside one of my bike tubes, so that I never have another instance of being thirsty near the canal, for any reason, be it overextending on a summer ride, or forgetting water, or metal thieves. And peace be with them, may they &!@@#5ing go off and #$%&**, I can do better than that. LifeStraw. Down inside the seat tube. Ride happy. Send wishes to the desperate metal thieving sociopaths that they somehow turn their life around.

Instead of turning back, I rode on ten more mile to the next drinking fountain. That's also probably not the best strategy, mind you. But, I felt I had to atone for my angry outburst at the metal thieves by riding on, and in so doing, I was fortunate to hear a voice with music in it. The second and third water stops still had working fountains, so everything worked out.

Stay on track. Take tools and stuff along, just in case.


  1. The water filter is a good idea...I always carry one on long walks but I must admit I don't normally take one along on a bike ride. The only time I did,was when I cycled back from Gibraltar and that did turn out to be a bit of a lifesaver...

    1. "Take the gear" has become something of a steady rule for me since I almost froze solid up on the highest point in Arizona. I just have to add the straw to the gear list. And I assume "long walk" is British for grab the Ordnance Survey maps and go for a multi-day stroll along the coast in the rain?

  2. Is the graffiti on the fountain common?

    1. Not THAT common. In some areas, yes, it does show up with distressing regularity, though.


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