The Long Ride Home June 7 2010 – Darth Days

3:39 on a sunny Monday afternoon was when I made the decision to ride the long way home. I work in Richmond and was plotting my route back to White Rock when I started to feel that longing. You know that feeling where you can feel the warm air surrounding you, flowing into you, around you. You see the blue sky and smell the traffic, the grass and faint dirty smell of gravel. In ten minutes I was out the back door, helmeted and shifting into gear.

I jumped on the bus to get through the tunnel and planted my nose in a book. Being a commuter you to try to avoid the same people all the time. I regularly avoid Negative Ned, the expert on everything that is wrong with the world. He doesn’t think twice about blowing his nose with a dirty sock, but step on his foot and prepare to be blown away. (The day I saw the sock incident, I nearly choked on my own laughter,  I must have looked like I had a Chihuahua stuck in my throat trying to stuff all that laughter down it. Lucky me I was sitting straight across from him)

I came up for air and looked around. Either a zombie virus had spread and everyone else was dead or this bus was taking its sweet time and everyone had fallen asleep. There was an issue on the highway and just like the issues at work, no one was going to say what it was but we weren’t going to get around it. I was thanking all things good for the turn of fate that kept Ned off my slow bus through hell when we reached the halfway bus stop along the highway and I exited.

The cool air off the dyke was tinged with the mineral smells of salt water and the sun baked the roadside grass into the perfume of  the summer roadie. I was instantly relieved, stuffed my earbuds in and pedaled towards home with the CBC in my ears.

I pedaled hard looking over at traffic and thinking smug thoughts and there HE was. Neddy had the same idea and was a little further up the road. Oh, god he is stopped, please don’t let him have a flat because  I’ll have to stop and help him.

Using my extra bunnie sensory to survey at the situation at speed I could see that his bike was ok and flipped him the thumbs up as I went past. He returned the gesture signaling he was ok and I sped on. I turned toward the dyke and thinking I was safe stopped to take off my sweater.

He caught me. Damn if the bugger wasn’t right behind me, a questioned look on his red, overexerted face.

“So, where does this trail go?” he puffed, looking like a small child in a world that is far too big.

I couldn’t leave him behind. He didn’t know where he was and would never get home before midnight if he didn’t know the shortcut. Picture a pasty white guy who has never really excersized in full roadie spandex. All skinny, flabby bits of him support with a veil of yellow lycra, a Styrofoam globe of helmet perched atop his thinning blond hair. He is like a giant 9 year old boy with stubble.

He followed me so slowly I had to ratchet down to my smallest gears and balance not to fall over to let him keep up. Mothering instincts welled up under my ambivalence and like a two year old, I had to keep in within earshot.

We made our way towards the train tracks at the far end of the dyke and I warned him that there may be some bush wacking involved. I got the feeling he wanted to laugh because I said bush wacking.

I hefted my ultra light road bike onto my shoulders and made my way through the marshy grass that lead to the train tracks and over into forbidden territory.

I heard a mewling and soon found out that Neddy’s shoe got wet. Oddly enough he was smiling. He looked like he was having fun at camp and my heart softened.

We neared the highway and I couldn’t help but keep looking back and checking on him. He rode steady and when we parted ways he thanked me, smiling and looking proud.  I don’t think he gets to experience this kind of stuff very often and I wonder if he will remember it.

We pedaled off in different directions. I took a path through the woods, he stepped on a bus.

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