Exit Strategy

Monday is day seven of my four day stay in Arkansas. I’m dreading my call into Bryce at Boss Hawg and procrastinate with yet another 25-mile mountain bike ride. It’s the only thing keeping my sanity from entering the red zone. The rain seems to be holding off, but the sky thickens with black clouds and drops the ceiling above like a vice closing in on its subject. I keep pedaling.

Hoping isn’t working. I lose focus on a rocky section of crumbled limestone and surrender to the traction gods. I pull my water bottle from its cage, wipe the sweat from my face and squeeze the soft plastic container. While stopped, I check the time and decide I need to reach out for some info. Not more than two minutes after texting Bryce my phone rings. “I don’t have good news buddy.”

The drive shaft is a unicorn. A sasquatch. The fucking Easter Bunny. People claim to have seen one once, but nobody can prove it. I was prepared to have my heart ripped out, and put more force into my foot’s elliptical trajectory. I get back to my dirtbag apartment faster than I left. I need to find flights, figure out where to safely store my bike, and think about how to get the hell out Arkansas. 

Getting the hell out of Arkansas is not easy. The closest airport has extremely limited service. Kansas City is a four-hour drive north and Little Rock is a four-hour drive south. Andy and Michelle propose their garage as a storage locker and offer a ride to the airport if I can nail down a flight. Frantically searching my airline mileage partners I find path to Boston that takes me on a world tour including Dallas and Miami. It’s 25,000 miles for a one-way ticket and I bitterly hit the purchase now button. The flight doesn’t leave from Fayetteville’s Northwest Arkansas XNA airstrip until Wednesday morning and I need to throw down another 70 bucks to stay one more night. Time to start packing.

Grateful for friends and options, I decide on putting my treasured Enduro back into its Evoc airplane travel bag and store it in a locked closet inside Bryce’s office at Boss Hawg. I can load another duffel of stuff that won’t fit into my carry-on inside the Jeep. I still need a ride to the airport and I reach out to Michelle and bring her up to speed. Michelle agrees to pick me up at 8 am on Wednesday morning. With a plan in place, I feel accomplished and defeated all at the same time. I look around my apartment and start deciding what can stay and what will go.

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