Dear Diary 004: Bikinis, Bicycles and Benji

Bikinis

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.

It worked.

***

Bicycles

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.

***

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7 comments

  1. Ah patience. Elusive and yet essential.

    Sublimity is tomorrow. I’m sure you remember that adventure last year. I also remember the ride we went on the Thursday before the race.

    Thanks for that.

  2. I remember that, too. The race and the ride before. I’m really sorry to be missing that race… I went back and reviewed the file last week. Such brutality for February! Stunning and astounding. A HUB after-race meal that I will probably never forget.

  3. Same here. My belly hurt from laughing for the next three days.

    I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting worked over by your teammates!!

  4. I reckon you will do your share of working over, too!
    Not sure how many will be out for that one, our first official team race is BB#1. To the Bananas, to the Bananas!
    I think I will be back in time for BB3… ugh, racing is here! ; )

  5. You and your running over of animals. Too crazy!

  6. Paul L. Kordus

    The same thing happened to us on a group ride we pointed the road kill out but it was a huge frikken Raccoon the was dead for a good week or two and a girl at the back didnt see it and it spewed yuk all over her and she wasnt nearly as nice as you were but we all got a big laugh over it. Oh well !!!! your description was just great well written and to the point. I almost felt like I was along on the ride. Thanks

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