In conjunction with much reflection on the eternal verities, a good night’s sleep, as I knew it would, resolved the melancholy that every time assails the one who observes the passage of time and the odd juxtapositions of time, circumstance, person, and place recorded by various means and lending themselves to ideas of meta-reference. That way, of course, lies madness or despair. So much better to engage in vigorous outdoor exercise activities that free the mind and body of the foolishness begotten by the imagination fixed upon the past.
This morning I packed five generic fig newton cookies in a ziplock bag, put air in the Miyata’s tires, then bunged keys, cookies, and a cargo net in the seatbag and set out to explore Old Stepford on the other side of the tracks. This was the first time I’ve ridden the Miyata with a rack – a many years old Cannondale. Installed, the rack doesn’t leave much clearance between it and the tire. Rubber protects the frame where the rack attaches at the seat-stays. Installation did not require the removal of the back reflector.
My route zig-zagged through neighborhoods on the way and looped back on itself more than once before I reached the alleys on the mansion-side near the tracks. Then through the Walgreens parking lot crossed the Stonewall Street and pedaled around odd industrial area adjacent Stepford High School, then crossed Sporting Goods Avenue and explored the neighborhood and alleys leading up to the bluff overlooking the currently run-down commercial strip on West Abraham Street.
While over there, I rode through the parking lots at a Catholic school. In back, across from the school’s athletic fields, a pieta against a wall attracted my attention. The carved figure of the Christ’s mother looked many years younger and less careworn than I imagine the woman described in the Gospel accounts would have been. From most angles, the face looked almost serenely happy. From one only, the mother figure’s face looked as if a moment away from crumpling in bitter grief. The face of the Christ looked noble in death, eyes closed, visage unmarred. No ragged hole gaped in the figure’s side; no puncture wounds pierced wrists or ankles, stressed by having been used repeatedly to leverage the body against spikes attaching it to the cross so the condemned could breathe, swallow, cough, defecate, and otherwise struggle to function. I don’t think anyone looks noble in death, but far less the individual sculptured.
I rode down the hill behind the police station and eventually turned left to reach Abraham Street, and it was there that my want of planning caught up with me. I rode over what sounded like metallic junk on the pavement as I approached the intersection of Pine Lane and Abraham. The Miyata’s got 27” wheels and tubes with schrader valves; I never did bother to get spare tubes for the bike. And I remember thinking about a spare tube when I stashed my fig newton’s in the seatbag. D’oh! About a half mile later I heard/felt the back tire making an odd sound with every pedal stroke. Looking down, I saw the tire bulging out more around the rim at the bottom than it ought to. I got off and squeezed the tire, but I already knew it was flat. About eight and a half miles into my ride without a spare tube or a pump. Bummer.
Since I’d been riding over to my mom’s house to say “Hi” and get a glass of water (another forgotten thing – a water bottle – well, duh), and was close enough to justify it, I called her to see if she could give me a lift back to my own house. I felt ridiculous, pushing fifty, sitting on the steps of the Great Hope Baptist Church storefront waiting for my mom to come get me because my bike had a flat tire. It beat walking and I was glad to see her.