Dear Diary 004: Bikinis, Bicycles and Benji
March is insistent on arriving.
The skies are clear and blue now with temperatures in the mid-70′s. I have to leave in nine days and rest-assured that I am not looking forward to it.
Lunch breaks are bikini sun-bathing sessions by the pool. The meal is frozen liquid fruit in a tall glass. The lunch-mates are dive-bombing hummingbirds and grumpy owls that should be sleeping but, for some reason, refuse. (Is it mating season? Why are they so active?)
I’m a tanner-than-usual shade of white so my skin reflectivity quotient has been effectively lowered. I’m less blinding in a good way.
Swimsuits in the winter can be heart-stopping but bikini shopping in January doesn’t have to be traumatic. My solution? Avoid the dressing room altogether, grab something in a bright color with a retro cut and beeline for the checkout before you have a chance to second guess yourself.
The bike is back. Not in a crazy all-encompassing way or even an agro-attack kind of way… it’s back in an old friend kind of way.
I don’t know if I’m fitter or faster, but certainly I’m happier. More relaxed. Overcome with an incredible feeling of patience.
As is always the case, Sal gets fast in unison with me, which means I’ll never effectively keep up. I can only hope to snag a wheel every now and then or roll with him over sunny pavement on low-key recovery days.
Being here reminds me that he is solar-powered. A Mediterranean body raise in California heat.
As he gets progressively tinier and darker, he goes uphill at an astounding rate. I swear to God the tan is giving him wings. Remind me not to let him rot away in Portland for too long anymore – this kid is made of sunshine. He’s thriving.
Benji and the Puker
I rode with a group of Tucson youth on Wednesday. (El Grupo – Look for more on them in a few weeks.)
Skinny kids on old steel bikes with incredible smiles smeared across their little mugs. They did hill repeats while I stopped to make photos. Someone puked. A puking celebration was had. “This is your hill now,” one of them said to the puker. “You’ll go down in history!” He smiled and wiped the side of his mouth.
On the way home they laughed and joked and called their leader Ignacio “Old Man”. They rode in a tight double pace-line and chatted with me. They were articulate, fast, well-mannered, and delightful. Their leaders treated them like adults because they deserved it.
Never have I had such hope for the next generation as I did on that ride.
As we approached the end of the workout, Ignacio gestured emphatically about something coming up in the roadway. I was sitting second wheel behind him but with the gutter to my right and a charming 13-year-old to my left, I didn’t have much of an escape route in either direction.
The road debris turned out to be roadkill. A dog, to be precise. A white-ish, medium-sized canine corpse. Still furry with an distinct air of lingering cuteness. It was spread out horizontally covering almost all of my lane of travel.
I stood up on the pedals and rolled over it like a speed-bump.
Ahead of me, Ignacio was contrite: “I called it out!”
Behind me, the teenagers were disgusted, “Ewwww!”
“I just ran over fucking Benji!” was all I could get out.
That elicited laughter and we continued on, discussing how much I might garner for the maligned tires on eBay.
The sun went down and I drove home thinking of Benji and vomit and speed-bumps and teams that are so tight you can feel the camaraderie in your gut when you’re around them.