Babe Ruth

Rich Dixon continues his ride along the Mississippi:

Thursday of Week 3 – the bike-shop guy’s absolute certainty as he sketched the map should have been the first warning sign.

The opening miles provided splendid early-morning river views and tours through suburban neighborhoods. The trail twisted through parks, along levees, and around riverside communities and resorts.

Then, around a bend, a temporary construction trailer blocked the path. Suddenly I sat in a jumble of trucks and heavy equipment. I was clearly in the way as contractor vehicles buzzed everywhere and workers in hardhats shuffled gear and equipment in all directions.

I noticed a handful of orange-vested men digging around some unseen obstacle, so I called out, “Any idea where I go to reconnect with the bike trail?”

Seemed like a perfectly reasonable question, but I guess it came across differently to the man who started toward me, brandishing a shovel.

“You get your fancy #$%&-ing bike outta here or I’ll show you a @$%#-ing trail.” He hoisted the shovel like a baseball bat!

I briefly considered pointing out that this was Illinois, and since he was probably a Cubs fan, he’d most likely swing and miss. But he didn’t look like he was in a joking mood, so I figured it might be best to move along. I wandered through the confused mess of the construction site, ignoring irritated stares, until I rediscovered the trail.

As I cranked away, I wondered why a stranger got so angry about an innocent request for directions. I was just trying to do something good, to live out this crazy dream, share hope with others, and raise some money for a worthy cause.

A question to ponder: What transformed him into a hardhat version of Babe Ruth threatening to smack me into the bleachers with his mud-caked bat?

To be continued…

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