Wednesday, April 18, 2007

True Story!

Itz the Gospel truth… [I am not exactly sure what that means, but the following rendition of yesterday’s events are at least 51% true; a little hyperbole and some minor exaggeration may have been inadvertently added to the storyline due the author’s untreatable affliction with faulty glands and mild dementia]…So I’m riding home after a great day at school; it was one of those days that confirmed my decision many years ago to go into teaching our youth. My efforts had approached what the current education-gurus have coined, “the perfect classroom.” Everything had gone according to plan!!! Of course, I had no students all day as the little monsters were all on a field trip to see some play by some dude named Shakespeare... so I was in a top-notch mood as I hopped on my trusty cross bike [a Kelly original made in the USA and purchased from the nice people at THE SKI HUT], and headed for home via the Munger Trail and beyond. The trail offers a scenic ride that gets me about half way home. Intermittent vistas of Lake Superior and the Saint Louis River delta coupled with beautiful stands of rare hemlock evergreens, aspens, and babbling rocky creeks complete with impressive picturesque waterfalls, it is a wonderful pathway…then suddenly it dumps the rider onto a major thoroughfare. The whole scene changes from a commute with nature to a full-on battle with the notorious raging motorists of West Duluth, once out of West Duluth, one gains the Lake Walk and salvation [aka The Green Zone]. From the Lake Walk it’s a pleasant ride home with only an occasional pedestrian inadvertently forcing a quick defensive move.

With experience under fire, I have grown steely hard over the years, itz no big deal to me as I have become mostly numb to the banter, the occasional pop-can winged at me, even the lit cig and the beer bottle tossed in my direction bothers me not at all. Still, I am always looking to make a spontaneous defensive maneuver, always looking for a place to bail-out if things get really ugly. Itz a war zone in West Duluth, especially as one gets near the theater of operations that encompasses the K-Mart to the M&H gas station corridor. The fastest way home takes me past the main Duluth post office. Itz a busy, complex, congested mess, the perfect locale for insurgents to ambush a novice. A biker needs to be steadfast, resolute, and at-the-ready to make a quick move in this zone…for it is an area that is frequented not only by the temperamental, often explosive postal workers, but also the wily elderly who are often leaving the postal office bitter and somewhat confused. Here the old adage clearly applies: There are bold bikers and there are old bikers, but there are very few old, bold bikers...

My highly evolved, albeit harried brain automatically flagged the white old-school Oldsmobile piloted by the blue/gray haired senior enemy-combatant. She was the perfect foe, the kind of road exterminator that roadies have night-mares about after too many Red Bulls. She had two blood-red finger nails clasped around a long smoking rat…the super slim kind, you know, like a Virginia Slim…she was pulling hard on that cancer stick and looking like Clint Eastwood, cause the sun made her squint, like Clint did in a “Fist Full of Dollars.” In her other hand was a hot pink cell phone. It was up to her ear and she was giving it to some poor old boy…you could just tell that the guy was getting his due and more…In the back of the OLDS was a mangy medium sized hairy dog. It looked mean; it had that kind of wild-eyed look that you see on the dogs wandering about Baghdad.

Anyway, executing a perfect classical flank, she suddenly cut me off heading into the post office…just enough to make me take notice; we both knew that it was just a tactical warning shot, a way for her to show her dominance over the exposed lone biker. I shot her the look of utter disgust, but at the same time I accelerated off towards the traffic light, which turned red just at the last minute. So there I stood as she pulled up next to me. Given her proximity, I knew I had the strategic advantage, so I yelled, “Hey watch where ya going!” She did not look back at me. Instead, she paused, then took a long hard draw off the rat, exhaled a blue smoke in a curling fashion like the way old movie stars use to do, then totally to my surprise, she started lowering the back window on my side…..There was a moment of tenuous silence…a sense of momentary expectation…..And then, the dog jumps up and goes completely berserk, it went crazy, snarling and barking and bearing its teeth, trying to get out the window and attack me with “extreme prejudice”…Initially I jumped back as I was totally off guard. This was a new form of warfare... Regaining my composure, I calculated that the dog was serious, but that he was also somehow tethered, so I took the initiative and started loudly and with dramatic feeling, barking and waving my gloved hands in the face of the dog. The dog increased its fervor, as did I. This went on for a few seconds until the light changed and she instantly peeled out and left me…

The car immediately behind her pulled up to me and an apparently sympathetic female non-combatant called out, “Hey that was crazy! Did you get her license number?” I calmly exclaimed, “No harm done Madam…itz just part of the ride...Itz what I do…the life of the commuter is always intense.” So it goes….. I rode home with a smile on my face…feeling like I had once again cheated the grim reaper, confident that I would live to ride [and fight] again...

Feeding the Rat: 2 hours and 33 minutes [153 minutes]. Riding within the relatively safe Green Zone along Lester River and beyond...strong winds, but I ran into Grady Larimer...a great guy and really fun to talk to during a ride

1 comment:

  1. This is the last time I expect you will write about my mom and her poodle FiFi!