Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stop Light

It was after I got a bike ~ a real bike, that would travel quickly down the road a long distance, not just a kid-riding-around-bike ~ that I saw something notable as I was riding as a passenger in a car. 

The first bike I had was a single speed, bmx-style, coaster brake equipped bike that I loved riding around the gravel and dirt where I grew up.  But eventually I began to covet other bikes ~ 10-speed bikes, with more than one gear, and brakes on the handlebars.  One year I got one, which was very exciting.  Before long, I was watching Connie Carpenter and the 7-Eleven cycling team on tv.  And I wanted to start cycling.

I upgraded from the department store special to a real road bike ~ lighter and sleeker, with a phenomenally understated paint job.  I got cycling gloves and cycling shorts, a cycling jersey and a campagnolo cycling hat; and I started spending time on the two-lane country road at the end of our quarter-mile gravel driveway.

Of course, once I started riding, I started noticing other cyclists on the roads.  One day, as I was observing cyclists, I saw in front of us in the left-turn lane, a notable guy on a bike.  The light was red, traffic was stopped, and so was he.  But his feet were still on the pedals ~ and knowing what I had recently learned about toe clips, I could see upon closer inspection that he hadn't even bothered to loosen the straps.  His feet were tightly affixed to the pedals as he stood still, balancing behind one car and ahead of the one I rode in.

When the light moved to green, off he went, leaving us behind, stuck in traffic. 

That was 25 years ago; but I hope that guy is still riding through Austin traffic, trackstanding his way into some other teenager's imagination.

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