Red Blinky

I left Justin’s shop late after meeting building a bike and meeting with Tym and Joe about what we are going to do about the team for next season. I’d eaten too much vegan food from the place around the corner, which I balanced out by shoving as many little mars, snickers and three musketeers bars into my mouth. I chased dinner and dessert with half a six pack before Justin kicked us out.

A light rain fell as I turned down SE 28th. A winter hat, which is too heavy for the warm wet weather coming up from California, but its enough to keep the rain off my face. My light illuminated the slight rain as it fell, my headphones blocked out the sound of the freewheel, and I took my each corner carefully, not willing to put my full trust in to a set of tires from a brand different than the ones I prefer.

Its late on this Tuesday and the roads are clear, but I stick to the bike thoroughfares following the painted bikes, but careful to not ride over them. I’m a little drunk, my stomach is a bit upset from those Three Musketeers and Snickers and Mars Bars, plus I don’t trust the tires to not slip out on me.

All of my rain gear is black, most of it only functions marginally. It seems too much for me to get more than a season out and expensive, yet necessary piece of equipment for life here. The alcohol I consumed should be enough to keep my mood light. Just enough to make me feel good about rolling through town with a sunnier outlook — a rebuttal to the friend who once said “You’re not the happy type.” Instead I’m a little angry, but not sure at what.

It could be that I’m riding back to the basement that’s been generously offered to me. The place isn’t bad and I’m very grateful to have it, but its not what I want. It is what I will accept. Its hard to draw that line without feeling like I’m incapable of taking care of myself, or that I’m loosing when it comes to living the life I want. One where I make things happen, as opposed to letting them happen to me.

Without racing, or any other kind of self competition, there is no outlet for these feelings. A few weeks ago, the last time I raced, I let this out. I turned my feet over quickly on the run ups. I took corners better than I ever have, exploded out of them too. Trading my spin focused pedal style for an all out mash and grind that comes when I stop trying to be smooth and I’ve abandoned all hopes of riding in what I think is the right style. Even that wasn’t enough. I finished the race pissed.
The ride from Souteast proper to what I think of as deep Southeast passes between those thoughts and soon I’m crossing Powell on SE 52nd and getting closer to the place I’m calling home, for lack of a better term.

Passing SE Woodstock and the good will that’s just south of that intersection I know I am close and start to lose the focus I had a few block earlier and start to tune into the story on the radio. I’m back in a bike lane, and I while I hate to admit it, I do feel safer there than I do on the street. There is a salmon — what we call a person riding the against the flow of traffic, often in a bike lane — She is also wearing all black, but has no lights and is low to the ground on her Meth-head special, a department store BMX bike.

“Get in the right fucking lane” I advise

She says something back that I don’t hear over Robin Young, but instantly fire back.

Normally I keep riding in this situation, but recently the constant fighting with myself wants to boil over so I turn around.
She has now crossed over to right side of the road, where she is going with the flow of traffic. There is a moment of “should I be doing this” in my head, but when like this I am committed and rarely back down. I wish I was like this in other aspects of my life and not just when I’m pissed.

We argue for a moment about which side of the road is safer, but then the situation suddenly deescalates. We’re no longer yelling, but talking at reasonable tones. I ask that at the very least she get a light. She tells me they keep getting stolen, which is the excuse I always plan when I get caught out.

We talk for a minute more. I consider asking her to follow me so I can give her my spare, but the decide against it. I tell her to be careful. She says “Thank you Sir”. I’m not sure what she’s thanking me for. I ride away.
Four or five turns of the crank occur before I turn around.

“Hey! Wait a minute!”

She stops, there is a bit of fear in her eyes. Now I can see her more clearly. She’s rail thin, her teeth are a mess and her long blonde hair hasn’t been washed in a while. I reach back and take the knog blinky from my seat post.

“Take this, at the very least people will see you coming, no matter what side of the road your on.”

She thanks me, says its cute, then thanks me again. I’ve given my standard reply, which is “no problem” and head for house. I’m close and inexplicably the cops don’t come through here much I can always pick another one of those lights up tomorrow.


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