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Posts tagged ‘Stories’

the stories we tell

Tell me a story, I say. Anything will do. He looks surprised and has to think about where to begin. There was this one day, he says. It was ten feet and glassy, I paddled out with my best friend.

I’m not sure where we are anymore. We’ve been riding up this hill so long it is starting to feel like my whole life has been spent here, just riding. I know I’ll dream of it later. I’ll awaken in a sweat, haunted by the vision of these endless corners, each one concealing then revealing another pitch upward. The road is inexorable, existential. There’s no exit and I feel like a cockroach.

There was a big set, I was caught inside, he’s saying. The story comes to me from a long way away, as if through a dixie cup connected by a long string across the span of our bedroom windows. The words skip and jump. Some of them are missing altogether.

I picture the boiling sea, imagine its push and tug, the way it toys with you, helpless. It’s like gravity, the sea, and just now, gravity is not exactly my favorite thing, riding up a road someone decided belonged here, absurdly high on a mountain. Gravity pulls at my legs, dragging me backward, pulling me under. I’m drowning with only my legs to save me.

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first race

This is a story about a bike and a bike race.

Once upon a time I was a swimmer, but I got bored of the pool and bikes looked pretty fun, so I thought maybe I should get one.

A boyfriend in college used to lend me his. Yes! It’s true! And a total cliché. Ask just about any woman rider who she got into the sport, and there’s probably a boyfriend or a brother and a borrowed bike somewhere in the story. So, there’s mine. I also borrowed my brother’s bike, which is funny, if you only knew how much taller than me he is. 

Eventually, I decided to get my own bike, but really, I didn’t have any money. So, I bought this green steel thing. <Grandpappy voice> In my day, they only put suspension forks on the expensive bikes! </Grandpappy voice>

So, I got one without. It was steel. And forest green. And rigid. It had cantilever brakes that didn’t really work. It also had hideous decals that I eventually tried to remove with disastrous results.

I took that bike on lots of adventures. Including this beautiful disaster outside San Diego. 

After a while, I thought it would be cool to have a suspension fork. So I bought one. But still, I had no money, which meant I couldn’t buy a good one. Hey! At least it was yellow so it looked like a Judy, even it wasn’t one.  The Yellow Fork – because who remembers low-end anonymous product names – was only slightly better than nothing.

I rode just about everywhere on that bike. My helmet was always crooked, because it didn’t fit. Also, bar ends. I don’t even know why we had them. The first day I rode clipless pedals, I fell over in front of all my dude friends. Because that’s what you do on your first day with clipless pedals. Who was I to argue with the pattern that Fate had outlined?

Then one day, my friends were going to a bike race. I’d never been to a bike race, and they convinced me that somehow it would be fun. I think I’m a very convincable person, maybe. 

So we piled in cars – I did not drive my VW bug to this edition, that came later – and headed up the coast to Sea Otter.

I stayed at some random house crammed full of people. I think it was in Santa Cruz, but I don’t really remember. I do remember the next year involved a crowded hotel room, and one of my dude friends eating donuts in bed. But that’s another story, my friends, for another day.

Then, I went to the bike race on my heavy steel bike with the shitty yellow fork with no name and the brakes that didn’t really work and my helmet on crooked. And it was the funnest thing in the history of the world. 

After that, I went to lots more bike races. I put roofracks on my VW Bug. And I bought a nicer bike with a real suspension fork and brakes that mostly worked.

But I think the first race is always the best race. Because you go there with no expectations. It’s all just one crazy who needs brakes anyway adventure. You can’t be bothered with the results and you can’t be bothered with fixing your crooked helmet. You’re too busy having fun.

Really, life should always be exactly like this.