Adventure: The Other Butt Cheek
Loretta Henderson – Solo Female Cycling Around the World
I hit a huge rocky dirt rivet in the trail and bounce right off Pandemic, my magic bicycle’s seat, and land on the solid steel cross bar. I think I just gave myself an epistiotomy. I immediately stick my hand down my throbbing pants to check for blood. I am grateful I haven’t seen anybody for a few days and can only imagine what they would think of this strange woman alone in the desert on a bicycle with her hand down her pants. There isn’t any blood but I am fairly certain I have rendered myself infertile. I am cycling out of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, into China. My 2 month visa time is ticking away like rosary beads at a prayer ritual.
By that afternoon, I am sitting on the sandy floor of the Gobi Desert, my bicycle wheel laid out in pieces. I am concerned about the tube part that appears to have been hit again by an array of machine gun shrapnel. I am at least 80 kilometers lost or I think I am lost. Cycling the hardened clay labyrinth trails is like cycling through a bowl of spaghetti. I have been picking a path in the spaghetti maze and taking it with confidence, that all of these sandy hardened clay “roads” will eventually lead south to China.
I am thirsty and repairing yet another gasping puncture, air leaking through multiple stab wounds. I am scrapping the bottom of the barrel of my trusty patch kit and the spare tube is holier than a preacher at the pulpit on Sunday morning. Each full patch, I cut with my nail clippers into two or three tiny patches. I begin to examine the 7 fresh holes in the tube and patch each one with a freshly cut, tiny jagged edged patch and a whole lot of glue. I inspect the tire for the cause of this multiple stab wound puncturing madness out here on the semi-arid desert floor. The villainous culprit is a tiny coral looking fraggle rock with hair of sharp rocky thorns. The wind is at a constant howl and the tiny thorny fraggle rocks appear to blow with ease and loiter in crowds on the hardened clay “roads”.
As I reassemble the wheel and pack up the trusty patch kit, I sit back and get stabbed with a sharp rocketing pain. The final puncture of the day has been to my gluteus maximus. I quickly stand up and pluck the fraggle rock out from my right butt cheek.
After 6 more days of cycling, I cross the Mongolian/Chinese border and I find myself sleeping in my sleeping bag on my belly, bottoms up. Each evening and morning in the tent, I touch the growing bump, which I have named Helen. Helen has taken over one half of my buttocks. Half Ass Helen is named after Mount Saint Helen, the volcano in the pacific northwest region of America. Half Ass Helen has a cone shaped top and is increasing in painful pressure and is threatening to erupt. I don’t have a mirror so I can’t see her and can only touch her with a dirty finger. Half Ass Helen’s location is a bit of a mystery. I have antibacterial hand wash so I have been rubbing that on Half Ass Helen since her debut to the center stage of my butt crack sometime last week.
I stand up and peddle for 23 miles and then push Pandemic the magic bicycle in the dark another 10 miles towards the street lights of the town of Sonid Youqi in inner Mongolia, China, to contemplate the impending eruption going on inside my pants. After another night of bottoms up, I wake and push Pandemic the concerned magic bicycle to the town center in search of a bus. Hohott, the region’s capital and a computer, are about a 2 hour drive away. Hohott would have medical supplies, a mirror and a computer so I could contact an ex-boyfriend who is a doctor in America and an old friend who likes to laugh at the predicaments I get myself into then helps me sort them out. Half Ass Helen, the volcanic butt wound, will not disappoint the doctor.
The bus terminal is bustling with activity but I am denied a bus ticket to Hohott. Perhaps there isn’t a bus or perhaps they won’t accept magic bicycles. I don’t speak Chinese so I am not sure which. Therefore, I do something I am normally very opposed to doing and start acting like a rich tourist.
Tourists in Asia have the reputation for being very affluent. I have never related to this image much. I subside on a meager diet, always travel on a budget of limited means and share or trade what I do have with those around me. But the seismic activity brewing in my pants makes this a special occasion. I take out my Chinese map and 200 yen (about $37) and bring Pandemic over to a taxi. I point to the map, the bicycle and the money. The taxi driver just shakes his hand at me, which is Chinese for no, no, no.