Yesterday morning for whatever reason I saw my mountain bike under me set up at 32 x18 bolt on Mercification fixy style just like it was in Uwharrie Sunday but now I'm Staying Alive on the urban commute. Out of the neighborhood with roughly 33% more revolutions and a knob load of resistance more than my work bike and on to the actual nasty of Lawyers to Albermarle and The Centrolian Split. I felt sort of stupid as I was traversing the East Side Universe on this machine concluding through the ick that my ride in could have me late on the mail by 15 minutes and somehow I was already late. Centrolian Split. Through the side walk mini styro berg field hearing the Rampage purr as the little climb up to the Eastland Mall single track Ridge started, knobs like dirt and now they had it. Funny gnarled roots on slightly sloping terrain down leftward towards the buzz of three abreast auto vipers(Travis Hugh Culley-I think) headed in to nothing. Two small sections of dirt up a 135 yard hill to the CATS Eastland Transit Station where I can make out small humans waiting for their lumbering mammoth(dicky) and stealthy escorts in to the Jar. Still on grassy dirt, the hill is gone and I can see the humans getting more discernible in the shallow morning distance as I transfer back to the rigidity of the crete slab. Just on CATS property I recognized one of the faces standing next the 40X sign, it was Michelle who not only works at the store I print some of my images at but is friends with my rookies better half. We waved and I gave her the "hell oh" just like Holt woulda and kept on with the direct drive right on by. A couple dozen feet later I realized I had strapped on a bus pass(It had been there since I was sick earlier in February when I took the bus home one time) in my pouch which would allow me to get off this thing on the street and read my new spiritual music book that Botzie found. I turned back and rolled up on Michelle quietly asking her when was the next 40X expected? She told me that she believed it would be here in less than three minutes and that it would have her at the Uptown Transit Center just before 0845hrs.
I looked at my phone, it was 0831hrs one minute after I was supposed to be picking up my mail which meant that I had to take the bus or I was going to create a problem. Just as I was talking about taking the bus to celebrate my freedom Michelle said, "Here it comes now", then she asked, "What freedom?" When I went to put my bike in the rack the rear wheel seemed to drop in perfectly but the 2.3" Rampage wanted nothing to do with such chincy(Ian), narrow garbage. I pushed down, the fatty 2.3 just would not go and to make matters worse, the arm you pull out to go over the fronty barely came up on a quarter past the break of the wheel. I think that normally the arm winds up at least over the top of the wheel, "round and about 2/3rds to the top", in full Ligget brogue. Oh well, looks good enough for government work I thought to myself as I put my paper ticket into the machine up side down which made the bus driver smile and politely correct me. I sat down just to the right of the driver in what is normally prioritized as a handicapped seat(thank god there were none on board) next to a man who asked me if I knew Steve Mills. "Of course I do", I said, "He is a local photographic artist and a rookie with the bottom feeder, Courier Net". Just then the bus lurched forward and my heart rate picked up almost double, more than had I been pedalling. I looked out the front window as we went accelerating up Central and saw my only Mountain Bike shivering on the frail little appendage of the mammoth. Shit. "Maam, does my bike look right to you?" She never looked away from the road but made it clear verbally that I was not getting a new bike on the city. No, I thought that is not what I'm saying, do you not understand I don't want my bike to go up under this thing. The left hand light onto Sharon was red and she looked across to my eyes and said that she would give me a chance to fix it at the next stop on Sharon.
There was a pause and an audible inhale sound coming from the entire bus of humans who I realized at that second were and had been paying attention to me when the doors opened to a riderless stop. I got out, walked around to the front of the bus and tried to get the arm up a bit more, the 2.3 was not giving way and I did not want to let pressure out because like a wasteful American I was only carrying CO2. Her eyes were cutting to me through the window and communicating with hand gestures to try harder. I made the best of it by walking back on to the bus being greeted by eyes of the random and the familiar who watched me sit back down accepting the reality that my bicycles fate had already been written. It mattered not for my heart was still connected to the steel through the glass all the way across the Indy Pendance 500.
I found a shyness in my tone that reminded me of the way that I used to talk to adults while growing up as a responsible young man when I asked her over the vibration of a smooth ride if I could get off at McDowell Street if my bike makes it. Once again never looking up from the road she verbally conveyed that not only could I get off at McDowell Street but if my bike does not make it that means she will have run over it and I could still get off at McDowell Street. Eyes from the first three rows and some deep were still looking at me, I was the animal not to be fed so I felt but never thought. How did my brain know what my heart did not? We came down off the beltway and up across McDowell, the bus slowed and then stopped in front of the 6 story county jail to let only the guy who knew Steve Mills and I out.
When I stood up with helmet buckled there was a small quiet level of applause, genuine but soft not loud. Then voices started to speak from the mouths of the eyes that had been staring at the bike guy actually on the bus not out riding next to it. Comments like, "We're rooting for you", "Stay Safe", "Keep up the good work", "Go, Go, Go" all came flying out at my energy from multiple humans who saw my energy as something that they recognized as real and different than theirs. I raised my hand exiting the bus and quietly said, "Thank You". I looked back once, the entire bus seemed to be one huge smile. Each of those people were sending me positive electric emotional balls of fire that were going right through my chest. As I took my bike off the rack the driver gave me a nod and a smile, without saying anything she told me that she recognized me not as an impediment to what she was doing but a contribution to something positive. That's when my tears started, I ran along side and jumped up on the Zion powering away for the mail. Dammit, I can not ride the bus again for at least 2 years.