The Bamboo Bomber

The Bamboo Bomber in better condition

I see it from the corner of my eye as I walk into the hallway of the apartment building. Turning, I take a long look at the board.  Half the griptape is missing the I can see the grime encrusting the bearings.  The nose and tail are a bit more beat up then the last time I saw it, but that brings a smile to face.  At least its getting some use.  Turning away from the board my mind jumps to an image of Julian sitting on the board, bombing down the hill by the house we shared, his laugh filling the rapidly expanding space between us.

Next I’m chasing Bobby down the hill into the Metro Parks, cars zipping by us as we weave back and forth across the double yellow line.  I haven’t gone this fast on a longboard before and I’m scared.  After years of bombing down mountains on a snowboard Bobby is an ace.

I try desperately to emulate his movements.   Clumsily I shift my weight from one side of the board to the other but I can’t seem to get it under control.  My effort is broken by the sound of a horn blaring behind me.  I quickly look over my shoulder and I’m meet with a driver’s angry glare.  I quickly ditch the board to the side of road and with a few quick steps I’m off the road not far from my ride.  After the car passes I quickly glance both ways, it’s clear. I jump back on the board and take off.  Scared shitless, but smiling.

At the bottom of the hill I make a big turn and dip down the final hill to the boat docks. Bobby is waiting for me.  As I catch up with him a driver pulls alongside us.

“I called the Rangers, so you better get the hell out of here.” He tells us.

Bobby and I take off up the hill.  Remarkably, we make it back up to Detroit Rd and half way across the bridge into Rocky River when the Ranger finally catches up with us.

“What the ….   What are you… ” She stammers.  “You know what?  I don’t even want to know what the hell you guys where thinking.  Get the hell out off here and at least wait until a time when there are as many cars.  I don’t want to see you two again. ”

With that the Ranger gets back into the car and drives off.  Bobby and I laugh until we hit the next hill.  We spent the next two hours bombing down the next hill, a nice, mostly car free ride to the expensive houses along the river.

Turning from the 48′ inch bamboo longboard that I left for the boys when I moved out, I start toward the door of the apartment.  Before I get there one more memory slides into view.

Now its February in Cleveland.  The cold wind causes my eyes to water.  When I left the house the thermostat read fifteen degrees.  I knew it be cold and I’m dressed for the weather.  Bike tights under my jeans, a thick sweatshirt under my rain shell and finally a tight fitting cap to keep my ears warm.

Cellphone self portrait taken in the elevator.

I turn up the street to the parking garage, jump off my bike and lock it to the street sign. One quick look to either side and I walk through the door to the stairway.  I’ve been here a lot and five floors worth of stairs pass quickly.  The top level of the garage is covered in snow so I have to settle for five floors of snow free riding.

Once I hit the fifth floor I exit the stairway, take off my pack and unclip what I’ve secretly started calling “The Bamboo Bomber”.  I set it down and put my foot on top to stop it from rolling down the hill without me.  Once I’ve got my bag back on I take a moment to turn up the volume on my iPod.  Fiona Apple comes in over the din of the city.  I give the board a slight kick, run to catch up to it and jump on. I’m off.  After months of riding I’ve gained enough control to bomb down levels of the parking garage.

Coming up to the first turn I lean down, wrap my gloved hand around the edge of the board and lean my weight back.  I drop my left hand down and drag it across the rock salt covered surface of the parking garage.   Standing up I carve to the right to check my speed before the next curve.

Reaching the ground level I turn left and roll right up to the elevator.  I hit the up button and and few moments later I’m meet with an empty, but warm elevator.  Reaching the fifth floor I sept off the elevator and push one.  I set the board down and take off down the ramp.

I repeat this process for the next two hours, the point when my fingers and toes start to feel cold.  I came out to escape the feelings of restlessness that were causing me to pace the house.  This was just what the doctor ordered.  At the bottom of my last run I strap the board back to my bag and exit the garage, unlock the bike and head home.

When the memory ends I’ve been standing at the door to the apartment for at least 30 seconds.  I knock and enter.  After a few minutes in the apartment I’ve got the car keys and I’m back in the hallway.  I take one last look at The Bamboo Bomber sitting there in slight disrepair and smile.  It’s been well loved in my absence and that makes me happy.

Pushing open the outside door I have a slight feeling of loss.  I wonder if we’d still be bombing downhills, or if it would just be sitting in a closet somewhere.  Then I remember that I up to bigger adventures and feeling of loss dissipates.  The Bamboo Bomber is right where it needs to be.


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