Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fear and Loathing on the Bike (Gang) Trail

So, Jen and I started out on a ride through the late morning. We had planned on getting an early start, but had a hard time getting out of bed, so we made it a lunch time ride. The day was perfect. Just perfect. The sun was bright and hot, and the breeze was cool, and we started out slowly talking and riding side by side.

We made it through the soccer fields and over the second of the handful of bridges that we cross, when we started to go under the overpass for Rt 161. Ahead there was a jogger, plodding along down the middle of the lane, struggling to hold his pace.

The man appeared to be marching into his mid forties, and possibly just realized it himself, prompting the early afternoon jog on a Sunday. His form was sloppy, with arms flopping at this sides and his feet just skimming the pavement. I was worried he would trip and fall. The distance between us and him was closing fast.

When people use the middle of the trail, it's hard to know which side you should try to pass on. What's worse was a situation like today where the incline leading out from the overpass curves hard to the left, making it impossible to see oncoming traffic. Maybe Jen was thinking this through, or maybe she was transfixed as I was at the man's impossibly gelatinous gate, but she didn't signal a warning that we were going to pass until we were about 15 feet behind him.


Crisp and clean as a syringe out of it's sterilized packaging, the bell we picked her up a month or so ago rang out. A happy sound, the bell brought her joy when I mounted it to her bike, and brings here even more joy when she gets the chance to use it. It's the sound of money. It's the sound of an angel getting its wings. It's the sound that lets this rolling yay-hoo know that we're going to pass on the right since his stupid ass is occupying the middle of the trail on a blind curve.

Homeboy freaked. I don't know if it was because he had just made it to the other side of the overpass and had been uncomfortable in the dark. I don't know if it was because he had once been hospitalized and the cruel doctors had rung a bell prior to each session of electro-shock. Whatever the reason, he jumped a foot in the air and then bolted to the left side of the track where he yelled the words that would become the catch-phrase of the weekend.


Jen, completely bemused kept pedaling as she smiled and said, "Hi there."

I was grinning like a fool but was so taken aback by his reaction that I could find nothing to say. He was legitimately scared. His eyes tripled in size, and while he was already huffing and puffing from his jog, I thought it would be a very long time before his body ever caught up with the demands of his lungs. His chest heaved, and a white ball of spit flew my way as he exhaled. I watched it rise and fall landing on the pavement three feet from where I rode.

We tried to give the guy a break and not mock him openly in his presence, but it wasn't long before we were shouting "Wait a minute!" and laughing like the mindless sinners we are. Jen, who wasn't excited about the ride to begin with, declared that moment to be worth a whole afternoon of pedaling.

No comments: