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It started as a typical Saturday morning. I threw a few books that I borrowed from Kevin last week into my backpack, along with a sandwich for lunch.  Not to a surprise, my CD player was still loaded with my burn of 3rd Eye Blind I was listening to last night.  It was quite in the apartment.  Standing in the kitchen I could hear through the walls the ambient noise of the Tijuana music from one of my neighbor’s trucks in the parking lot.  I quickly finished off two pop-tarts and a glass of water, throwing it’s remnants in the trash as I walked past the window.  Put the back pack on my back and slung my headphones over my ears, grabbed the bike that was lying next to the door, and walked outside.  It was all so mechanical.

I could hear the music in the parking lot grating on my ears as I left my place, but only for the few moments until I could tune it out with my CD player.  Low gears for leaving the lot, high ones after hitting the hill at the light.  I didn’t even think any more about the process.  This left me to my thoughts about the coming day.  How I was going to deal with work, and what I was going to do afterwards.  The morning commute was mostly there for the quick and easy meeting in my mind to plan out the days expectations.  I really didn’t think about much more during that half hour.

I got some great speed down the hill, drifted through traffic and stop signs with ease.  It wasn’t till the 2nd track of my CD that I even broke a sweet.  I was hitting the first neighborhood thinking out how I would need to process some of the inventory we left out from the day before.  Thank god the boss wasn’t going to be around today to see that we had left something’s from the day before not put out onto the shelves.  Even though there was always time to do at least half of all the new stuff I got in the next morning before we had any real flow of customers in the store.

As I came off the hill leading into the third neighborhood I was still continuing my thoughts on store issues of the day when I felt something.  It was like that feeling when you’re standing in a crowd and sense someone staring at you that you don’t see yet.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw another bike on the other side of the street coming down at about the same speed I was.  I’ve seen many bikes down the sidewalks of this ride many times before, but they were all kids just peddling through the neighborhood with no real direction about them.  This bike was on a direct path to be some where; you wouldn’t ride like they were if you weren’t in a hurry to be somewhere.

I was a little curious so I glided for a second to bring the bike more into my sight.  Even though I slowed a little the bike creped into my vision slowly, like a ship passing under a draw bridge.  The wheels were average, no to sporty but at least it was a mountain bike like mine.  It had a red frame and I cold tell from the front spokes and it had seen its share of action from some large dings and scrapes along it.  When I saw the handle bars I noticed that it had to be a woman since the rider’s hands were smaller and, quite nice actually.  I guess for some reason I just didn’t expect that.

I started trying to figure out from what I saw what kind of bike they were riding, was it a trek, a mongoose, or just some sears knock off with a decent frame.  All those thoughts, and general brain activity, stopped when I saw her.  I was, in a word, awestruck.  She had beautiful red hair tied up into a tight ponytail, fair skin and a look of driving determination.  Her navy blue shorts were not to short or to long for biking, navy blue with white stripes pull over, and a white shirt under it.  I’d say they were typical Target brand Nike rip-off but I couldn’t think, I just stared.  Pushing my eyes almost out of the side of my head since she still hadn’t come into the perfect view point yet.

I was so involved trying to stair at her that I had not noticed I was still slowing down.  She moved past me a bit, and then maybe she noticed that I was staring at her because she slowed down to meet up with my pace.  I couldn’t help it and just looked directly over at her.  She turned her head and stared back, she had this smirk on her face that when with the look I was getting from her deep green eyes that just locked me and kept me entranced.  It felt like I was in one of those cartoons when the villain gets the crazy black & white spirally eyes to make the other character freeze in their tracks.  She then gave me a wink and jetted down the bottom of the hill

 

 

“No fucking way!”  I said as I saw her bolt down the road.

I was so in a daze that I hadn’t noticed that I was losing the inertia that I needed to make it up the next hill easily.  She knew this, you could tell by her speed.  So she must have biked this way before more than once.  Why have I not noticed this racing shark of a girl before?  With my mind back in check and my pride on the line I started pedaling like I was Lance Armstrong on the last day of the Tour De France.

From the looks of her I had more leg power but she had the advantage of being ahead of me.  I huffed up the next hill in the highest gear I had, shaved the next corner just barley missing one of the huge Texas gutters along it.  I could hear the echo of the steel overlaying the drains as I ran over them.  I noticed her looking over her shoulder to see where I was.  She definitely wanted to have a real race and was happy to see that I wanted to a part of that.

As we entered the 6th neighborhood I wasn’t losing any more ground and was very slowly starting to gain some.  The noise of the trees as the wind whipped through them flew by my ears snapping and cutting against them.  There wasn’t a straightaway for a while now, just curves and turns.  I got up on the sidewalk on a few of them since it would shorten the distance that much more on some of the turns.  I was banking that there would be no one walking or kids darting out of a driveway after their Tonka truck.  All those years of playing Paperboy for Nintendo looked like it paid off since there were a few people on the sidewalks and I flew past them with ease.  I don’t think most of them appreciated it though.  One power walking housewife gave me a look like ‘you are not riding like that on my street are you?’

I was getting closer and closer to her each turn, I was wondering why she wasn’t trying to do the same thing but I didn’t have time to think about that long when a car started pulling out of its driveway at just the wrong pace and angle.  I would have to jump the curb and turn out onto the road, hoping not needing to slow down to much wile doing that.  I could feel the heat off my brow and taste the sweet coming down my face.  As I banked off the curb and past the car, that still hadn’t seen me; I didn’t slow down at all. This was about the time I noticed that there was a car in the other lane that I was heading straight for.  I cut the wheel hard around his front end, feeling the tire jut and stagger across the asphalt.  I cut the wheel back again straitening the bike out.  He honked and yelled something out his window; I couldn’t make out what it was, nor cared to.

I was now going down the middle yellow strip of the road, my heart pounding out of my chest. I had lost a bit of ground and she looked back and noticed it with a smile.  I wasn’t leaving the center of the road, I didn’t care, there were no cars right in front of me and I had enough adrenaline pumping through my veins to keep me well aware of any unexpected surprises.  We started to head down the last major hill of my ride to work.  At the bottom of the hill was also the last main intersection, with many cars driving though it at this time of morning.  As she hit the bottom of the hill the light turned yellow, she looked back and noticed that I was half way up the hill still and gave me that same smirk.  This time it told me that ‘I won’ was going through her mind.  She slowed just a little bit to not bottom out at the dip at the beginning of the intersection and raced through the light.

At this point on the hill I start to hit the brakes and slow down not get pulled into traffic or topple over my back at the base, but not this time.  My legs were already on fire but I started peddling as fast as I could.  I had this determination to get through the light alive that superseded the voice in the back of my mind that was screaming, ‘it will be red by the time you get down there.’  And it was.  It turned red and time slowed down I could feel each that evil electronic eye was staring me down.

…1 second

…2 second

Cars had started to move as I bolted over the dip at the bottom.  My left foot started to slip of the pedal.  I pinned it down against the grind edges of the pedal.  I have two cars in my direct path and two that will be very soon.  I dart past one with near inches from my back wheel.  The second one saw me and slowed a bit.  I must have looked like some sort of unrealistic site going before them.  I mean what kind of kamikaze psycho darts through a busy intersection with lost abandon.  I cleared him by a foot.  The last two that were coming from either direction slowed and turned trying to not hit me.  They had both turned the same direction though so they formed an ever narrowing pathway between the them.  I don’t like to think about how close I came between the two cars.  I could feel the heat coming from their engines.  They did stop in time not to hit each other though.  It was only after I made it through the intersection that time speeded up and my ears unplugged.  I heard their honking, screeching breaks, and yelling in a sonic boom catching back up to me.

I regained my focus and looked up the street to see her.  She was still there about the same distance as before, she had noticed that I had darted through traffic and sped up again.  I wonder if she saw exactly how I did though.  There was one small hill up ahead and after that it was all a straightaway so I knew I still had a good chance to catch her.  As she went over the hill I lost site of her for a moment.  I started to strategize on how best to pass her when I got that close.

I came over the hill a few seconds later and she was gone.  I looked all around the street and saw her no where to be found.  I screeched on the brakes turning my bike a bit almost throwing myself over the handlebars.  I stood at the bottom of the hill in the middle of the street trying to catch my breath and wipe some of the sweet off wile I looked around for any signs of her.  I backed up a bit and looked down the two side streets.

 

Nothing.

This once the first time I had remembered that I was wearing headphone and even heard the music from my CD player.  I didn’t know what to make of this strange girl that came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quick.  I was still high on the race and had trouble trying to bring myself back down.  In about a minute I moved over to the side of the road and continued on my way to work, which now was about a few minutes away.  As I biked the rest of the way I could feel my stomach tightening and the then the rest of my body catching back up to all the pain I was feeling from the race.  The adrenaline rush came back down and I was starting to feel what happened when you cut your riding time in half inexpertly.

I made it to the shop, through my bike down and quickly unlocked the door.  Kevin and Mike where already there, early for once, reading some graphic novels.  I stumbled past them and headed to the back.  They saw how heavily I was breathing and that I was kind of disoriented so they followed me back with morbid curiosity.  I puked my guts out in the bathroom on the back.

Wooooa!  Dude you alright?” asked Mike.

“Yea,” I said and quickly dry heaved and coughed.  “I think I might be in love,” and puked one more time for good measure.