Between bites he talked of his days at UCLA. "Coach Wooden was really good with me," he said. "I really like him, although sometimes I had the impression he wanted everybody to be just like him. I got on his wrong side my first week at school. I had a huge party in my dorm room, and we got into all sorts of trouble. Vandalized the place. I ended up getting kicked out of the dorm."
The conversation turned to methods of travel. "The summer after we won the NCAAs my sophomore year, I hitchhiked 13,000 miles across Canada and the United States," he said. "All the way to the East Coast. All I took was a backpack and $175. I had some great rides. One I remember was just outside Calgary. There must have been 30 hitchhikers in line. One guy said he'd been waiting four days. I went to the end of the line and got a ride in five minutes. The driver didn't know who I was; he just picked me out of the crowd. Another time a guy went 200 miles out of his way so he could talk with me."
The next morning Bill was up at dawn and eager to get started. I failed to share his enthusiasm; my whole body was stiff. For reasons I'm not sure I understand, I pulled myself out of bed and joined him for breakfast. Adam and Susan were still sleeping, which is what I wanted to be doing.
We were on the road soon after breakfast. The film crew again followed us closely, and I got the impression that Walton would have liked to take a quick left at the county road, ditching everybody, but he was a good sport.
"Only 90 miles to go," he said, grinning back at me over his shoulder. "It'll be a piece of cake today."
However, as we started the long climb over Cape Lookout, the pile of breakfast pancakes I had eaten felt like dead weight in my stomach. The sun was burning through the fog, forecasting the 100� day to come. Even Bill strained going up the grade. He zigzagged to reduce the severity of the climb, challenging the morning traffic.
The rest of the morning we sailed over a gently rolling stretch of highway. Bill generously slowed the pace and I began to get a second wind. I smiled at rubbernecking drivers who spotted Bill. One lady in a Buick jammed on her brakes, rushed out of the car and handed him her owner's manual to autograph. We encountered her again five miles down the road. She was waiting with a pitcher of orange juice, a plate of oatmeal cookies and all her neighbors.
"How's the weather up there?" asked an elderly man, staring up at Bill, who was actually sitting on his bike but who still towered over the man. Bill just rolled his eyes. He quickly finished his glass of juice and we were off again.
By early afternoon we had reached the base of Cascade Head, another steep climb. I stopped for a rest, watching Bill disappear over the first rise. It would be a couple of hot, grueling hours before I laid eyes on him again. When at last I wobbled bowlegged into an earthy little health-food restaurant in Lincoln City, Bill was finishing a bowl of lentil soup and his second strawberry smoothie. My second wind was long gone. It, along with my legs, was back on Cascade Head.
"I've had it," I said, gingerly slumping into a chair. "This is the end of the road for me."