Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


If I didn't enjoy being alone with my thoughts, the three-plus hours I spend on a bicycle each day would be an act of madness.

Some mornings, the ride seems faster than others. Today was an other. I frequently find myself noting the scenery, narrating as I roll down the quiet streets of my neighborhood, but sharing such uneventfulness seems bland.

Still, on this drizzly morning in the upper forties, I smirked at the thought of summer's impending arrival in five days' time. It certainly doesn't seem like it. The reader board on Mac's Custom Auto agreed: "Dear Summer. Come back soon. We miss you."

The spray keeps everything gray and damp -- watch out for those streetcar tracks, now, those are slippery -- but it's not enough to soak me through as I roll down the steep, stairstepped hillside of my own street, along Pacific Avenue amidst the day's first city buses.

The usual suspects along Puyallup avenue: the woman with the withered smile and overly made up lips and peroxide-blond hair, walking towards the city. Today she is alone; some days, she's with a man, but it's never the same one. There's the gray-bearded man with the bicycle helmet, but no bicycle. When I ride past him, he motions little circles with his index finger.

An armada of green scrubs filing into the early-early-classes at the for-profit college. Tired of your job? You, too, could be a nurse!

Over the old steel bridge on Puyallup river, the railyard below still quiet -- they've kept obsolete sign on its steel trellis below, directing locomotives to the left to take on coal, to the right for oil. The diesel smell is kept down by the rain.

Out of the city, into the industrial stretch of highway, up the hillside and into the suburbs. The steep descent into the valley, feathering the brakes to keep them heated up on cool, wet rims. "We're building an inclusive community!" declares the posterboard sign tacked to a tree in the canyon. I'm not sure where the community is -- not in the treelined canyon, that's for sure, nor on the freeway on my left.

The overpass of the valley freeway shows the morning gridlock, the cars in the middle a sea of red gnats, immobilized by their own weight. My own sort of freeway, the paved trail made from an old railway line, is clear -- I see not a soul on it this morning, a fast lane reserved only for Yours Truly. By the time the real summer turns up, it will be considerably more crowded.

The handful of company I usually have on the trail, even, is absent. Where is handcycle man, who I see in all kinds of weather, year-round? Where's the guy on the decade-old trek, elbows splayed as he jams along at breakneck speed? How about the cute girl with the rockstar sunglasses, the bullhorn bars on her fixed-gear Bianchi? The couple walking their pair of dogs, so dark, huge, and shaggy they might be confused for bears? They always say good morning, as I pass.

If I drove every day on the highway, would I see the same cars? Would I get to know their faces?

Do you?


  • At 7:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Was I the guy with the splayed elbows at breakneck speed on a decade old Trek? No, that's only two out of three, I hope(elbows being the exception, I hope. Oh yeah, and it's the AM cruise. Tyler, you're an awesome(sorta hate that word, but keep using it)


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