A couple of friends dropped by the house and invited me on an impromptu bike ride the other week. It was 8:40 PM, the bike hadn’t been ridden in a year, and the tires were flat, but you know, why not! So we walked the bike down to the gas station, filled up the tires, and hit the road as the sun was dipping low on the horizon.
There’s a bike path that goes right around the park that’s near my apartment. It’s about a 10 km route, mostly flat, and it’s edged by water and beaches to one side, forest to the other. Any sunny day it’s packed with tourists, joggers, and bikers. It had been a long while since I’ve biked, and I don’t think I’ve ever done it at sunset, not here.
It was nice not being wrapped up in a cocoon of fiberglass and steel, going at a slower pace, letting the wind cool my skin. I realized that biking lets you interact with your environment in a different way, allows an alternate perspective. I drunk in the evening and the failing rose colored light with my eyes.
People were gathered around the 9’o clock gun, waiting for the nightly firing. We stopped, and I told S, that I’d never actually seen it. She told me, that it had always been just a sound to her, not an actual thing. It fired just as we passed it, and we lost our friend T, who took a different turn and ended up having to wind her way through the crowd.
The tide was high, and the flashing light of a small guide boat ushered a giant container ship beneath the bridge towards the port. Two more container ships, empty of their loads, completely silent, waited their turn. These were followed by a cruise ship, dwarfed in comparison, whose windows flashed with camera light. You can’t see this from the road.
Onwards, we curved around a bend of stone, glossy with pink light, carved up with initials of lovers. A car pulled over where the path neared the road, and asked for directions to a restaurant, slowing to keeping pace with the bikes. A little ways farther, were solicited for a pull by a pair of tired rollerbladers.
We continued on past a small crescent of sand, and see groups of friends huddled over blankets with dinners, and bottles of wine, couples snuggling. A fire twirler, really? Yes, a fire twirler too. We biked down past trees, and duck a few low branches. It was getting darker, and we happen across what looks like a proposal, we guessed… table was set up in the sand, candles were arranged into a heart shape on the beach, one man was dressed as a waiter, there were flowers on the table, and beside it a woman hugged a man in a suit looking completely stunned. People actually do that kind of thing?
We biked into the dark. The sun had completely set as we passed the empty public swimming pool. T & S had bike lights. I didn’t. They escorted me, one in front and the other behind. It was a bike sandwich.
We decided to loop back around the lagoon, and startled a raccoon in the road. My ancient bike creaked and ached. It squealed louder than a horn when the breaks were applied. The ducks and geese that milled about the water’s edge didn’t seem to mind. We saw the park ranger knocking on the bathroom doors to lock up for the night.
One hill… up I biked, home again, breathing heavy, but happy. E’s was waiting at the door. He tried not to laugh. The timing of his return home was serendipitous. “You went biking?”
“Yeah, inflated the tires so you can bike tomorrow.” And he did.