Our Collective Future (on Bicycles!): A Very Short Story


The t-junction at Alvarado and Sycamore—an older couple with panniers (picnic-riding they say); younger, spandex sporting racers (out for some serious “spinning” I assume); assorted students with rusted parts (strictly “point A to point B” bikes, I know); me laden with papers for a meeting. We converge at the light at Covell and it feels like an accidental “Critical Mass”.

Chapter 1: Drafting
The light changes and we are off—I am behind spandex-pair, students trailing, elderly friends taking up the rear. And we are flying, sucked along in the wake of the spinners. Everyone is “linked” and the LACK of effort feels like cheating. We are… together.

Chapter 2: Decisions
Still “one” as we reach the bike path by the elementary school. Thinking of going straight but something tells me to turn right with racers. I choose right(ly). Everyone else follows and we remain one, semi-organic, entity flying towards the overpass that spans the the freeway (with its metal-box-bound people) below.

Chapter 3: Bottleneck:
Approaching the overpass we meet a disarray of bikers, skaters, bladers, walkers, runners. Our drafting screeches to a halt as we maneuver through the crazy crowd (la foule folle—alliterative even in French!). Smiles, laughter, “excuse me’s”, stumbling, wild eyes, racing hearts. “the panniers-for-picnicking man” comes alongside. “Our collective future” someone says, smiling (no, laughing!). Me? Him? Another? Not sure but we all feel it in ourselves as we mock the clog below.

Chapter 4: Good-Byes:
And then we squeeze through the bridge and peel off in every direction to… home, spinning, picnic, meeting, play. Waving good-bye like old friends, we have “known” each other for about 3 minutes. But our atoms mesh in a shared knowledge of the glimpse into what we know will be.

I ride/run over that bridge today and I hear the echoes: our collective future. The voice is our voice—spandex racer/elderly pannier/paper laden meeting bound/rusty student/skater/blader/walker/runner.

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