January 4, 2005: I, cyclist

(To be read in the voice of William Shatner doing Rod Serling)

It was a cold, wet day in the city, Redwood City. The clock ticked mockingly as I watched the rain trickle down my reverse-tinted office windows for hours from the confines of my workspace. There was no desire to ride.

Coming home in the rain and mist, the streets glistened darkly, reflecting the absolute certainty of the stoplights and of my ambivalence. Headlights came at me through the rain, and the slap of the wipers set time for my wandering mind.

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At home, I leaned back in the recliner and watched the ceiling fan throw long, pliable shadows across the ceiling and down the wall. Something told me I needed to get out and see what I could see. I didn't know exactly where I was going tonight, but the cold, stinging air and the threatening clouds told me I was in for some action. Within 20 minutes I had the Hoo-E saddled up like a showgirl for the 9:00 PM dinner show, and I was ready to explore the night.

Deep in the night, the foghorn throbbed like this morning's hangover and bellowed plaintively like a business class passenger assigned to coach. It's a tough world mack, so just lump it like the rest of us and keep your troubles to yourself.

Riding through the alleyways of Princeton, my light staggered back and forth across the pavement like Bush toadies trying to defend their peripatetic rationale for war, or for torture, or for permanent tax cuts, or for deficit spending. The list is long and twisted.

The rain came quickly and without conscience. As I tugged the collar of my trench jersey closer around my neck, the wind shrieked and howled like the alley cat in the garbage cans outside my apartment last night. I pulled the bill of my helmet visor down lower against the wind, and glanced furtively up and down the darkened street. A small metal sign tacked to the wall of a run-down warehouse banged angrily in the night. Down at the docks, diesel hung in the air like a Tallahassee steamer after three rounds of seconds at the Applebee's taco bar.

I pushed on to Frank's Place in Moss Beach. Lights twinkled temptingly from the provincial interior of the warm cantina, and I thought about dropping in for a swig o' the hair. But that would be trouble, trouble that would follow me home and hang on like bad Chinese food after a night of drinking. No, I've been down that road before and it always takes me to the same place, a dead end.

The surf roared like a bored-out Harley, and beyond the light of my headlamp, the cliffs gave way to a gaping maw the size of Anna Nicole Smith's cleavage. I pushed on through the angry weather; the black pavement rolled by like the last 10 years of my life -- quickly and without distinction.

I criss-crossed that entire waterfront tonight, looking for whatever it is people look for. I never did find it. What I did find was rough streets, run-down warehouses, and mounds of steaming gurry ice.

Just another night in the saddle.


Mileage: 21.07 Time: 1:46:14 Avg: 11.9 Max: 32.0 Weight: 173.5

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