this is my daily ride
since moving into my new home
on the north edge of downtown
(you know . . . the slightly cool
almost well to do place called the "teacher's college area")
i've left him outside
i gave my bike a gender
but true . . .
. . . nope no name!
but i do refer to him as "buddy"
at times when he bails me out of tight spots
"thanks buddy you're so good to me . . ."
when he gets me to places quickly and safely
"thanks buddy for being so understanding . . ."
when he carries insane amounts of food or beer
in the panniers
or huge items for my house
through rain and shine and fog
and now snow
"come on in buddy" when the weather's so crap outside that i understand
why the chain comes off 'cause the rear derailleur's so gummed up from the dried oil
and street muck
he's a machine for sure
but somehow he conjures the need in me
to take risks
and to move quickly
he definitely prefers the downtown streets
to the west end streets he used to live on
see for starters
there are other riders on
downtown streets and they've got "colour"
ya know what i mean by "colour?"
some of them are on
slick wheels . . .
hardcore riders who don't repond to my "hello's", my "good morning's", my "hey dude's!"
my "sweet bike brother!"
who knows what shit their lives are filled with?!
and i say with all my heart and fifty two years of riding under my arse
that when you're on two wheels
you aren't the luckiest person alive!!!
tell me it ain't true!!!
downtown there's more riders who are on rusted squeaking wobbling whips
my faves are the
bikes somehow wrestled together
from the scrap bin on aylmer
and cobbled onto bits
from punked bikes left punched and trammelled
on the side of the road or chained to poles
with more and more bits missing every day
their wheels warped and exploded
like an umbrella in a high wind
those are the most righteous bikes
always ridden by guys who don't wear helmets, goretex gloves,
or jackets striped with reflective tape and pants shipped purolator from portland
"the hub of the bike universe"
nope those dudes are wearing third hand mark's work wearhouse pants
and maybe a carhart jacket that somehow slipped through
the value village filter
and boots . . .
always steel toed boots with no laces
and when i pass those dudes i nod a slight nod and they always
nod a slight nod right back.
just the connection
that sweet so very real moment
when we say without saying anything
"we're hurtin' in our own ways -
it's tough being human isn't it?!"
but both of us
for this brief time being
while we ride our bikes
through the streets
and our nods are like tickets
granting us safe passage to the next way-station
to the next set of lights
to the next coffee or drink
to the next car that somehow doesn't see us
or somehow fails to anticipate a choice
we have no choice but to make
and when we arrive
at the doors to our homes
and switch on the light and leave
that at that very moment
the very last glimmer of energy from those nods
drifts off into the night
and i can say
in all honesty and with affection
to my bike sitting out on the porch