Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Panic in the Pyrenees!

On the way back from my usual ride south of IC I got into a genuine DUEL with a bearded hipster cyclist wearing two-tone Raybans and no helmet. He was also riding a mountain bike and carrying a heavy backpack. We pulled up next to eachother at the light at the bottom of Gilbert, where it meets Bowery near the terrible Japanese restaurant. Neither one of us spoke; we exchanged mute male glances and then stared grimly ahead. As Tacitus wrote of the first meeting between Caesar and Mecha-Caesar, "Shit was ON."

I slew all on the first leg - I attacked immediately and, for once, clipped in on the first stroke without trying. My diamond-clear memory of the cracks and irruptions in the pavement served me; I slalomed past bumps and crevices, hissing along in the biggest of big gears. The hipster groveled along behind, not even trying to pass me.

We met at the light at the intersection of Gilbert and Burlington. We each stopped behind a black Audi. The car's driver was either impatient or filled with automotive joie de vivre; he repeatedly popped his clutch, rolling back and forth like some lathered bull in a chute. The hipster and I grew more agitated; I began bopping along to my music (Ke$ha's "Party at a Rich Dude's House"); the hipster did likewise. College students moved around us, ignorant of our savage combat. A flock of birds wheeled overhead, streaming counterclockwise in a great elegant crescent, heading for their roosts on the gables of Iowa City. It would implicate me in irresponsible literary license if I were to insert a peal of thunder, although it wouldn't violate the spirit of the moment.

Presently the light changed; the Audi wallowed ahead, though we had each expected it to surge. The hipster attacked and it fell to me to grovel, to blow chunks (to employ Bob Roll's pungent phrase) as the hipster sailed off north on Gilbert, smirking over his shoulder. He rides on; some say he never slows; he dances atop the pedals; he says he will never die.

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