The Pettitfiles

The Pettit files~The most excellent miss adventures of Jonny P~BANFF

“Shit Boy Howdy!” A term us Snohomish folk know well, in fact all Washingtonians should have engrained in their urban slang, and if you don’t, well your no friend of mine.

Shit Boy Howdy~3 days.

 The king of mellow, Jack Johnson himself sang, “in times like these, in times like those, what will be will be and so it goes, on and on, on and on it goes”

While without the smoothness of the Hawaiian son, I’ve been leaning more towards rougher, brasher lyrics. The honest tunes of blue collar guys grabbing their lunch box and heading towards the salt mines, singing ’bout whiskey, women, work and beer. That’s how I’m looking at the Tour Divide. The scenery is what sets the race apart, and will either cause further insanity or calm the insane you came in with. But the days are more akin to grabbing the pail and heading to work. I myself have been a melting pot of emotion. The tour, work, my dad’s health, money, and of course the ever prevalent question, “is this what I really want to do?” It’s all thrown in the mix like jambalaya, stirred together and left to smolder in its own broth to a fine boil. In short-I’m slowly going insane. I need June 10th, more to escape myself, than anything.

I’m rested, stir crazy and anxious. I’ve alienated some, distanced other’s and managed to even perturb myself. Still short on cash, but hey, aren’t we all? I’m extremely confident once we start. The hardest part about fishing was untying from your home dock. Getting all your ducks in a row, just making time for time to stop. Once your on the boat and waving goodbye to those that love you, one world stops and another begins, and I could think of no more better analogy to fishing, than the Great Divide. One I have successfully done , the other may prove just how successful I may be, the largest doors might just open in Antelope Wells.

Taylor’s ready, still bike tweaking and skinny as a pole, but the kid is leaping with excitement, I’m both a little jealous and looking forward to watch his struggles and be a part of his growth. Jealous in the fact that what burdens me doesn’t register on his scale, and it’s more of an independence issue with me. He’s only 21 and still firmly on the family teet. No matter the stature of him however, I doubt there is a more enthusiastic participant than my good friend.

My bike? Solid but heavy. Today I rode some anger off and racked up an easy 70 miles. It’s tipping in just under 40 pounds with water. My pack is sweet, I’ll only haul 12-15 pounds on my shoulders, so that is a relief. But now under the misted patio in downtown phoenix on a disciplinary day off I’m left with a countdown; I think of how much the airlines will gouge me for my bike box further depleting my stack of monies. The ride to our condo in Banff and the couple days off we’ll have there, hopefully some of these qualms that are swelling to tsunami proportions will disperse and the seas will calm before the real storm hits… then again I wouldn’t mind a stormy 20 plus days to make me grateful for all that maybe I don’t realize currently.

Two Tuesdays ago, while at the nightly races I chatted with friends, and the lot asked many questions I haven’t before. I boarded the light rail heading to Amber’s with a lot on my mind. I woke her up and asked “is this crazy?’ It was the first time that the ‘crazy’ idea about the divide had crossed my mind. To me it seems natural to compete against yourself and the elements. The miles are extraordinary, the elements as real as you can get, the straight audacity mildly arousing- like a hot chick grabbing you by the collar saying, “lets do this.” That’s how the divide comes to me in my thoughts and dreams.


 Merle Haggard said, “I’ve always been crazy but it kept me from going insane.” I’ve felt a connection and bond with these words since as long as I can remember, and now in my 4th year of three decades I’m more unstable and stable as ever. More open and honest, but kinder with a knack to kill. It’s a cavern inside my head where I watch a man walk slowly and despite himself, flips a large light switch that says “kill” on it. I see his body fumble almost with regret as it gets turned to on. My only regret this year is that it never got flicked in a marathon race, my competitiveness was held to injury, allergies, and not wanting to get hurt for the divide. If I feel as well as I do, then I apologize for what I’ll do in the second week of the divide. I’ve already made up my mind, taking from those that achieved before me. The first week is like any tour, roll easy with the pack, feel at ease with yourself but never get comfortable. Comfortableness breeds complacency. I want to push myself as far as I’ve gone, and knowing where that is, will make this race interesting. The truth is I’m tired of what I’ve been doing and seeing, I’m ready to be on the alert all day everyday. I’m ready to go.

Perhaps like any good pyromaniac I’ve attempted to burn what good bridges I have. Anger is always the strongest switch, and my inner rebellion to show everyone wrong lends me strength, even if it be wrong- as has been my path since a child. However not towards the woman, or friends but those who refuse the larger picture, the one that’s produced by the greater good. Vision is not what’s directly in front of you, never has been. Not in life or on a bike, you always have to be looking ahead, reading, reacting. Mine, at times as been misplaced, misused or beat with a walking stick, till I’m forced on my hands and knees reading the earth like brail. But I’ve refused to quit, always pursuing in some form a greater picture, and not for myself but for all parties involved.

In typical Jonny P fashion we got to the airport by alternate routes. We drove to the light rail dropped the bike off with Amber and our gear. Then I ran to catch the train from her house. Once on the light rail we made people in the early morning dance around a big cardboard bike box, then heft it across the street to catch a shuttle. Even had a chance to see Kurt Warner directly in front of me at the airport dealing with the same issues while his kids were being kids. When we landed in Calgary it seemed our quest was blessed, we found our new shuttle easily and where entertained by our driver Bill Bower, a man whom know doubts loves his provinces and his job. On the route my face was glued to the window looking at amazing mountains, even though the hem of cumulous clouds hung low the sights where still rewarding and building my inner drive. He hooked us up with a tour of the town and told us the inns and outs of the non-tourist cool Banff, and I’ll be forever grateful.

On the flight here I saw the spine of great mountains covered in snow, looked for the smoke of the Greer fire, and let my eyes take in all that my body will in the coming weeks. We landed in the damp air and green of Calgary, made it through customs without a scratch and found the bikes. They on the other hand were treated poorly, large holes punched through and a note from TSA telling me they’ve been here and took my matches, jetboil fuel and a couple small items fell out of the ripped box, nothing major. The bikes are built and today we pick up our spot trackers, get acquainted with the town and take in all this beautiful place has to offer. Although rainy it’s spectacular, it has risen my spirits by just the lone sight of her. I’m not a valley boy so being up near swelling rivers, pines and mountain people feels like a weight has been lifted off of me.

Banff has been on my radar since I was a small boy, now with receding hairline and speckles of grey in my beard I’ve achieved a childhood dream and will soon begin an expedition south and hopefully realize another dream. Everyone who helped me get here you are amazing, compassionate, and dreamers too. You’ve realized the chance to see and do great things with me and allow me to be your medium, I’ll search for ways to repay you for 2,800 miles. But for now I’m going to slowly enjoy this town and the people I meet and those I’m with, just letting it all soak in, this is one part of a major dream come true and I’m on a cloud. My body is a little beat up, but I’m in BANFF, so life don’t suck.

Today will be spectacular, enjoyed with great people, the thoughts of great friends and those I’m about to meet. I promise another story before I leave but for now I’ve got to go see my muse.


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