A Good Day for a Ride

Deborah Hendrick on Sunday, July 16th, 2006

The bike path was wide and well engineered. Designed by experienced bikers, Eric thought. Not a racing circuit, but shady and scenic; the noise and combustion of Houston was far way. The bicycle, generously offered—graciously accepted—was a Serotta, with a fixed, single gear. Not his normal ride, but it was light, and whisper-quiet. A joy to ride.

At five mile intervals there was a turnaround, and a little graphic to show the rider his location, and best of all, a water spigot. Eric stopped at the 10 mile marker and finished off his water bottle, then filled it with fresh water and drank that too. “Oh why not,” he thought, and stuck his whole head under a rush of cool water. “What a miserable climate,” he said to the trees, and a startled squirrel. For a heartbeat or two, he missed his broad shimmering vistas and home skies of cloudless blue.

Eric was about sixteen miles into the twenty mile loop when he dropped down a hill into a sunny, wide-open water crossing, dry for now, and braked hard and fast. Then he carefully backed his bike up the hill and stopped. He thought about all the things he’d seen in his years of biking. Every kind of critter you could think of, especially the non-domesticated kind. Skunks, prairie dogs, porcupines, the shifty-eyed fleet-footed coyotes. Snakes … too many snakes. Once he saw a tawny bobcat, and they studied each other for a good long while before the cat winked one eye and trotted off. Eric especially loved the birds. Meadowlark, dove, quail … their song was his song. Scissor-tailed flycatchers, burrowing owls and the racing road-runners to provide interval training. And hawks, forever watching and guarding their territory.

And the stuff … the flotsam and jetsam he’d found on the road through the years. All kinds of tools (that 16″ pipe wrench was a dandy), and once, an expensive self-winding Hamilton watch, but he gave it away the same day to a man who needed a watch. Another time a bright spot of lacy pink stopped him: Victoria’s Secret would stay a secret. And red rags. So long as he kept riding and lived near the oilfields, he’d never run out of red shop rags, and a man could never have too many red rags.

But this was a first for Eric. The path was about six feet wide, and a good two feet of alligator hung off each side. He sized up the tableau in an instant: while crossing the low, super-heated bridge, the alligator got so hot he fell asleep.

He was four miles from his car. Eric performed an alligator data search deep in the information-processing part of his cerebral cortex, and came up with: Speed … fast. Vision … acute. Sense of smell … probably more than 30 feet. Eric considered his own pungent Neapolitan body: pink, white and browned, though somewhat tough and stringy. Definitely crunchy.

Then he calculated speed, weight, degree of slope, and decided without a doubt that he could bunny hop a sleeping alligator … on an expensive, borrowed bicycle with wheels that cost more than his first car. Four miles or sixteen miles. Maybe the alligator would wake up …

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Topics: Short stories

6 Responses to “A Good Day for a Ride”

Kelly Says:
July 17th, 2006 at 11:50 am

quite good again. although, an novice fixie rider would never be able to bunny hop that well. it is very hard to bunny hop a fixie -because your feet must keep moving and it’s hard to ever lift off. extremely experienced fixie riders manage to do it, but not a novice. however, if the bike were a single speed, it would be quite possible. k

Deborah Says:
July 17th, 2006 at 1:13 pm


Eric Says:
July 17th, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Gee, the guy in that story sure sounds familiar!

You make it sound like encountering snakes is a bad thing. It’s not, at least not for me. I find them fascinating.

Gators, though? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother can of reptiles.

As far as Kelly’s theory-dousing, I have no doubt that any experienced rider could bunny-hop a big lizard, regardless of fixie-specific mileage. We grew up hopping fixed gear bikes, and one can do great things when properly motivated.

Is it overly narcissistic of me to feel flattered? ;-)

Deborah Says:
July 17th, 2006 at 5:33 pm

Not narcissistic at all. I hoped you’d be pleased with this bit of fiction! Although alligators do pick the darnest places to nap.

Eric Says:
July 17th, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Heh. Yet another reason why I don’t care to live anywhere near Houston.

You’re too kind.

Kelly Says:
July 24th, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Fun story…love the bunny hop, however i like the “git your arse in reverse and make tracks for home” idea myself, but that’s the unskilled rider talking. lori


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