Wednesday, August 09, 2006

a new tickle of the old tattoo

But I love Mr. B! He has seen me through tough times! I was young when he came into my life – barely forty. I have raced down streets and boulevards, with him guiding the way as the wind tickled my tattoo!

Nina, the time has come to put some kick into that pedal. Mr.B held your hand while you found your rhythm. What you need is a Mr. G, with carbon graphite composite frames, attached via index shifting gears to thin and smooth tires to put you over the edge.

I will never let go of Mr. B! Never! Fine, I will give Mr.G a chance, but Mr.B and I will forever ride to Whole Foods and to the Law School together, bags packed with supplies, yellow fender rubbing affectionately against my shin and his own tire.

That was (more or less) the conversation Ed and I had yesterday. And so, in the warm twilight of a summer day, Mr. G, red as a tomato from the farmers’ market, came into my life.

He is smooth as a marble! He sings up hills! Take me home, country roads! Man oh man, take me away!

You want to do one of the Bombay Bicycle Club rides up north of Madison, past the town of Lodi?

I haven’t eaten since morning. I was up most of the night working on my lecture. It is late. I haven’t even a loaf of bread at home to nibble on…Yes!!

It’s seven in the evening by the time we leave Ed’s truck and pedal out toward the Wisconsin River. The loop is less than twenty miles, but I slow things down considerably as I stop to take it all in.

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Nina, neither you nor I have headlights… the sun is setting really quickly…
I know – gorgeous, isn’t it?

At a bend in the river, the Merrimac ferry pulls out. A few men throw lines into the river. The sun is a bright orange. I am a bright orange. Mr. G stands out with his tomato red frame.

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Maybe we should take a short cut… We’re going only 11 miles an hour and we are still some miles away from the truck…

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Relax, Mr. G and I can fly like the wind if we have to. My tattoo will again be tickled by the breeze. Oh, pause for a second! Isn’t that an outstanding looking pig?

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It’s dark by the time we pull into the outskirts of Lodi. Outside a local bar, men are throwing horseshoes. We hear the muffle of the metal on the sand and the occasional clang when the shoe hits the pole. We pull over and watch.

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Bud Lights clutter the picnic table. The men talk about how in their days they didn’t have the games the kids have today. It is a scene straight out of Languedoc, with horseshoes filling in for boules.

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The moon is full, the night is breezy and warm. We load the bikes into Ed’s pick up. He stops at a Kwick Trip to buy a Heath Crunch ice cream bar. I break off a sweet chunk of it. All-American me, no?