It is with great pleasure that I return to Texas to enjoy the autumn rides. I have heard a varied assortment of rumors as to my whereabouts the last couple of months – the most common one being that I had been brutally mutilated while riding my bicycle as it went through the automatic car wash. I wish it had been something so simple.
Mid-August found me sitting at an outdoor café in my old hometown of Bodega Bay, California. I had cycled up the coast from San Francisco with some of my friends and we were enjoying an asparagus salad when all of the sudden… SWOOOOP! A flock of seagulls came down and carried my friend Grace away. I could not believe what I had just seen. My other two friends, Janet and Eva, had ducked under one of the tables. My first thought was not of me but of my bicycle. I glanced across the sidewalk and there it was – my beautiful Schwinn Cruiser Six – covered with birds! Not seagulls, but some sort of black birds with long beaks – and they were pulling the streamers from my handlebars and eating the stuffing from my saddle.
My adrenalin level rose within me like a bursting thermometer. I darted across the sidewalk with my arms flapping wildly. The birds scattered - their shrieks joining in with the screams of the panicked patrons of the café. I grabbed for my bike. My bike that was once a glistening, shiny black beauty now wretchedly spotted white by these mad feathered creatures. I lifted it above my head (good thing I did that advanced weight saving procedure on it only a few weeks earlier!) and went running across the street towards possible safety.
Half way across the street I heard a different sound. Mechanical. An engine maybe. Sort of like… then I was engulfed in a shadow. The noise grew louder. I spun around toward the noise and in that split second before contact was made, my brain registered… A CROP DUSTER! A CROP DUSTER COMING STRAIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF TOWN AND STRAIGHT TOWARDS ME!! Then – WHAAAPP! Its landing gear latched onto my Cruiser Six, still firmly in my grasp above my head, and we headed off into the wide blue yonder.
We had been flying for nearly an hour before I was finally able to get my bike unhooked from the landing gear. At the exact moment that I got it detached, another one of those split-second, brain-registering thoughts happened my way – I’M FIVE THOUSAND FEET IN THE AIR!
Free falling through the sky, I managed to pull myself up onto the seat of my bike. If only those birds hadn’t have chewed off my streamers I might have been able to get a little more drag to slow me down for my re-entry to civilization. I clutched the handlebars tightly and prayed that Schwinn hadn’t cut any corners on building these frames as strong as they used to. For my first off-road experience, this was gonna be a mother of a landing!
As I was nearing the buildings below, I began to make out some human forms. It appeared that two men were running and jumping from one rooftop to another. I veered to the right to get a better look. Yes. One man was chasing another one. He had a gun. He was a cop. That’s it – wait. It wasn’t a cop – it was Jimmy Stewart! What luck! Jimmy Stewart right there just a few feet in front of me - WHAAAACK! The front wheel of my bike knocked the crud out of Jimmy Stewart and he went tumbling down the roof and over the edge – just managing to grab the gutter at the last moment and dangle seven stories above the street below before the whole scene started to freak out like some cameraman was playing with the zoom lens and depth of field all at the same time. (I guess you’d have to be there.) I, on the other hand, went crashing through a skylight and landed on a couch with some psychiatrist who looked like Ingrid Bergman taking notes and asking me questions about my childhood (that 20” Spitfire that I got for my 5th birthday – the training wheels – watch out for that tree – THE TREE!!!) when all of the sudden Gregory Peck walked in and he had a gun. Then the psychiatrist’s office turned into a ski resort embedded deep within some Salvador Dali painting and Bruce Dern was dressed in a sailor uniform and I could have sworn I saw Perry Mason. But whatever - I grabbed my bike and I went running down the hall - running right past some guy resembling Leo G. Carroll. This was like some kind of a dream – a weird dream – a nightmare!
Outside and safely on the street, I hailed a cab. It had started to rain. I put my bicycle in the back seat and I climbed in the front. Weird music kept playing in my head – the windshield wipers were keeping time. I fell asleep.
I must have dozed for quite a while. When I awoke, the rain had slowed to a drizzle. The taxi had stopped and the driver was nowhere in sight. I rolled down the window and peered out into the darkness – the darkness lit only by the intermittent glow of a flashing neon sign – a motel sign – Twelve Rooms – Twelve Vacancies…
But that’s a different story.
Enjoy the ride!