WE INTERRUPT THIS OVER-WROUGHT SLOG THROUGH EACH AND EVERY BIKE THE SAN DIEGO BIKEIST HAS EVER OWNED FOR A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE:
As I have already alluded, and as should be no surprise to anyone, I am a hardcore bike-commuter. I abandoned our second car 18 years ago and have used only my bike to get to work ever since. It's amazing the weird stuff that you just happen upon when you're out and about in the world on a bike rather than trapped behind a windshield. Case in point:
These are the Harbor Police Boats we saw yesterday after my bike commuting buddies and I spotted a dead body in San Diego Bay on our ferry ride to work. The Captain had to stay with the body (bobbing about twenty yards from where we were sitting on the side-bench with our bikes leaning against the rail) for fifty minutes while we waited for the water cops to come fish it out. Their counterparts were waiting for us when we came ashore, where they took an informal poll of who saw the body and who didn't (signified by a showing of hands), but then decided to take a formal statement only from the Captain himself. Now, if this kind of intrigue and excitement doesn't get you to trade in your gas-guzzler for a commuter bike, nothing will . . .
-- NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING --
Wow! Almost as exciting as reading more about my exploits on my good old Huffy Santa Fe ten speed (but not quite). As mentioned, since I would never out-grow it, this was the last bike of my childhood. It took me everywhere I went until I was old enough to drive: all over the development; the two miles into town to play tennis during the summer; exploring many of the country roads that led through to, and away from our town; back and forth from my first "job" at our church when I was 13, filling in for the Janitor along with my buddy Jack while Mr. "Mazz" took a vacation (yes, already a bike commuter!).
The Huffy's swan song, though, (before the mostly bike-less later high school years) came when my brother, the Egg, and I finally scored our own paper route. Every morning, we rolled our Huffies down to the bottom of the driveway at dawn, divvied up the pile of papers into our sling bags, then raced to the end of the route, making our way back on opposite sides of the street as we rode straight through the adjacent front yards, depositing the papers on front step after front step. We took turns sleeping in on Saturdays, though, and on one of my Saturdays "on" I finally came face to face with the greatest fear of paper boys everywhere: an angry, unleashed Doberman. I always kept an eye out for this one, because he was kept on a second floor deck behind one of my customer's homes, where he would bark, viciously, at me and the Egg whenever we came near the house. He had actually escaped before, but each time, we had been at the crest of the hill, and just raced down the other side faster than he was willing to chase. This time, though, he escaped as I was still pedaling up the hill. With no chance to get away, I jumped off my bike, and instinctively put it between me and the crazy dog. He seemed a little afraid of the bike, so I started screaming as loud as I could (which is pretty loud) and then picked it up and thrust it at him as threateningly as possible. Just as he seemed to be mustering his counter attack, his owner, Mrs. B, got his attention by yelling from her front porch. He did not come when called, so the stand-off continued, him starting to try to circle while I made sure to keep the stalwart Huffy between me and him at all times. I kindly suggested to Mrs. B that she might want to come down off her porch and grab her dog before he ate me. After considering my suggestion for a moment, she ambled down her driveway, grabbed her (disturbed) dog by the collar and dragged him (still snarling) back to the deck -- no apology given. Glad to be alive, I raced home on my bike, and, of course, woke up the Egg to tell him what he had missed. To this day, when I want to muster a little extra speed on my road bike, all I have to do is imagine that crazy dog chasing me up Trotting Drive . . .
So, for about three, important, formative, years of my life, the first thing I did every morning was hop on a bike (just as I do now). However, when I got my license, and turned my attention almost exclusively to baseball, (and, eventually, my long suffering wife) I left the route to the Egg and our mildly brain-damaged younger brother, and rarely rode the Huffy at all. These "dark" years in my Bikeography, of course, only made me appreciate bikes that much more when I re-embraced their glory in college . . .
Next up: "I MUST have one of those!"