Idle Moments Are Expansive

Pushing the pedal hard, up hill, I knew I couldn’t win.

Turning the corner at the head of the Tenderloin, a fierce wind blasted me.

There was no way I was going to to make it.

My brake cable–the soul of getting from A to B– snapped. Instantly everything changed. I was stuck in the highest gear. Not ideal for San Francisco.

What once was a 12 minute ride became a never-ending commute.

But this blog isn’t about negativity… oh no, these forced idle moments are the most precious…

Surviving the MAYHEM of Market, I hung a quick right and soon stopped at Gough and McAllister.

Hovered over my bike seat, I awkwardly awaited the impending green light. In this tense situation– when will the light turn?!–no one really looks from side to side, rather all focus is pointed forward. Everyone is tense. Feet are flexed, pressing oh so lightly on the pedal, ready to thrust their full force downwards to seemingly beat the opposing cyclist on either side.

This light seemed especially long, perhaps because it was just me and one other dude, hovering tensely over our bikes, counting each second until the turn of the light.

“It sure is foggy,” said the cyclist, breaking the infinitely long silence.

“Yep,” I said, mentioning that the wind up McAllister would probably be worse.

It’s not a common practice to ride side-by-side on bike, with a stranger, in a city. But that’s what happened once the light turned.

A simple question about “What do you do?” unleashed a long-winded discussion about “life” that lasted us up to Steiner, when I had to confess that my bike might not make it all the way. This seemed not to phase the guy as he gave a smooth nod of understanding and continued sharing his life story.

A block later I had to throw in the towel– even standing up straight on my pedals couldn’t make them go round– I needed to see the bike mechanic, asap. So, I conceded to the nice bike gentleman that it was time I give up my pride and walk my bike the rest of the way……


So engaged in conversation about life, goals, history and what not, he just got off his bike and continued the conversation all the way to my house (several blocks up McAllister). And NO, this guy was not hitting on me– conversation was so good (deep, personal and reflective) that it had to go on.  I don’t remember this guy’s name, but damn, what a great bike ride home, even when my bike was busted.

This city makes me smile every day.