Nearly every Saturday morning for the last eight weeks, I've been on a bike ride with a couple of guys from the band at church. It's been a Saturday ritual with them for about a year now. They don't ride in the streets, though, smooth blacktop roads and few inclines. No, they ride on the nature paths that wind through the woods down by the river or on the six mile trail that's winds around Chimp Haven. You read that right, Chimp Haven. It's a very cool place that provides homes for chimpanzees that have been retired from the medical research field, entertainment industry, or chimps that have been kept as pets but are no longer wanted. The guys I ride with, Ryan and Greg, refer to it fondly as the Monkey Farm. Yesterday was my first day to ride the trail at the Monkey Farm. It kicked my butt. Five and a half miles on a narrow, winding, hilly, root-infested trail. I think I almost died.
The guys have been very patient, stopping with me when I need a moment to catch my breath, or I don't know, just to make sure my legs are still there because I haven't been able to feel them for the last five minutes. During these breaks, the conversations are the highlights of the ride. Yesterday, during one of these breaks, we could hear the chimps loudly screaming in the distance. It was actually kind of scary, they didn't sound happy. Greg said sometimes that sound makes him keep riding when he feels like he can't pedal another inch, must less four more miles. He imagines one of them crashing through the woods chasing him.
Me: This place isn't open to the public, right, like a zoo?
Ryan: No, it's a sanctuary for burned-out chimps, basically.
Me: Wow, that's pretty cool.
Ryan: I think once a month they let the public in to look around around and see the monkeys. Last time that happened, we had to leave and ride somewhere else. You couldn't even get in here because of the line of cars.
Me: I'll have to check it out the next time they open. I'd love to see what they're doing here.
Greg: (somberly staring off into the trees) I don't like to look at monkeys.
(pause...Ryan and I look at each other questioningly, and then at Greg)
Ryan: Did you have a traumatic experience with a monkey or something, Greg?
Me: Really, I mean, who doesn't like to look at monkeys?
Greg: They just make me uncomfortable. Seems like they should be wearing pants. It just ain't right.
(Ryan and I, looking at Greg like he's insane)
Greg: Yeah. Or maybe overalls.
Ryan: Or a three piece suit?
Greg: Nah, that would be strange.
I love Saturday morning bike rides. You just can't buy this kind of entertainment.