Justin and I marked our parting not with a fist bump, or a handshake, but something closer a clasp. Not long enough to be considered holding hands, but more than a friendly shake. Once again he offered me his lights, and once again I refused them. From this point the route home is majority bike path, so I knew I would be safe enough. I was also content to ride home in the dark.
We had ridden down from the far reaches of North Portland after the last Tuesday night race at the raceway. Justin gave me a tube when I punctured just after leaving the race.Repayment I suppose for the time he punctured and I used my frame pump to fill his tire. Maybe it was something much simpler; something you do for a friend.
The race was fun, if not a little weird, like they all are in the slower categories. The pace was mostly steady, except when everyone slows down because they all want to be the first across the line and not be the one to keep the pace high, and thus safer for everyone else involved. There were times when I was positioned well for a points lap, but then lost my focus, then the wheels in front of me, and thus my position.
There were times where I was at the front, helping to make the race what I want it to be; hard. I like to think I ruined the day of a racer who decided to follow me where I went, yet refused to pull through after I’d taken my turn at the front. Then there was the lap where I was off the front, long dropped the guy who tried to make the break with me.
On the ride home I’m consumed with how much my life has come to be defined by what I do on that two mile stretch of tarmac in the Northern reaches of town I’ve made my home. There are of course the innumerable lessons I’ve learn about the pursuit of cycling. Like how to manage my impetuousness, or the process of moving from the back of the pack to the front, and putting yourself into position to get what you want.Those aren’t just lessons about bike racing, since they mirror the things I have to work on in my life off the bike.
The esplanade is squeezed between I-5 and east bank of the Willamette river. Riding down this floating steel dock provides some of the best views of Downtown Portland, something that I sometimes forget. Tonight I notice it again, and I’m reminded of the first time I noticed it while riding to work the first year I lived here. It is dark, my cat has been outside since I left the house at eight this morning. She can manage outside, but she can’t, or won’t feed herself and I know she’ll have a mouth full for me when I get home. Signe, who has moved to Seattle is waiting for me to call, but I have to stop rummage through my backpack and find my phone. I snap a picture or two before placing the phone in my jersey pocket and keep riding through the dark.
I moved to this town almost six years ago. It has taken me nearly that long to begin to set down roots here. For the first time since I left Cleveland I have a set of friends who aren’t the girl I’m dating or the guy I grew up with. Its taken a long time for me to build a group like the one I had before I left Cleveland. Considering leaving this place brings tears to my eyes.
After I pedal away from the view I feel lonely. Something my therapist said to me is stuck in my head. Its about where I draw my sense of self from. The sources are multitude, not all of them good, or constructive, and its time to accept that I need to let go of some of those.
There is an empty house waiting for me, and I’m thankful for the chance to be alone.