We rolled out at roughly 9pm. Headed to the marina for a late-ish night ride. Some peace and quiet for her, my friend who has recently gotten back into the swing of things (according to mainstream society). A little excitement for me, who has been like a bump on a log for the last three months, wasting away (according to mainstream society). We met up, headed down and rode, rode, rode our fixed gear steeds along the bay shore. It felt so pure in the dark, along the freeway. Nothing but us, our bikes and the water washing up god knows what on the urbanized beaches. Turn around and headed back to a bar I know sort of well (I’d been there a couple times prior). She had to pee, and I had to drink. We turned the wrong way at University, but it was okay, because we were outside, free and having fun. Rode back down San Pablo and eventually I called out “YAR HAR!!! THAR SHE BLOWS!!!” No, really, I actually said that.
We go in, she pees, I sit, we drink a few rounds of $2 PBR, talk about all sorts of things. Life, school, our first times (riding fixed gear of course), how very little time there is in the world for such important things as locking your bike to an immovable object when you’re a courier, and how little time there is in life to really get to know your grandparents. Of course, we had to shout everything over the odd mix odd punk rock and classic rock in the background. But we heard each other. “WHAT?! HUH!? WHAT DID YOU SAY AGAIN!?” were the key phrases of the evening, but who cares. We’re out, in the world, safely behind closed doors, and under a haze of alcohol and cigarette smoke in a room darker than it is outside in the middle of a corn field in Illinois. Then we get up, gear up, and head outside, to face the reality of the situation. SHE: having to return “home” to do two hours of house chores at her co-op, and ME: having to return home to the realization that I’m not living up to the expectations other people have put on me; also my loving, supportive girlfriend and my adorable cat, Dante.
I tucked my laces into my shoes, and pointed us in the right direction and off we went: free, yet fixed. Up the hills and into the fog and darkness of Berkeley, CA at 11:32pm.
There’s a certain pride in riding a fixed gear bike home after a night of carousing. No brakes, no gears, nothing but you, two wheels, handlebars and cranks. You get home, hop off your bike and stumble a bit, yet somehow, on the bike, you’re balance is flawless. It is a part of you, the better part of you. You got home because it was there and coherent enough to carry you there. It knows the way home, even if you don’t. Getting home, parking my “POS” fixed gear against my classy road bike, I can’t help but think that I wouldn’t trust my life to any other bike in my stable. I’ve been riding that bike two years longer than any other bike I currently own. I only started riding a road bike last year, and I still get freaked out when I realize that my legs don’t have complete control over my speed.
I decided a from the first second I rode my bike down the hallway of my dorm building that one summer, I’ll never give it up. Even after it tried to buck me the first time I took it out to get falafel. I’m hooked. There’s no way I’ll ever stop pedaling.