I (we) commuter’d today, first time this week. Enough about me.
Instead I’ll present a picture of yesterday, early evening. I was coming back from the Taphouse to my building in order to wrap some stuff up before going home. Note on the Taphouse: was there with my department, the rendezvous point for everyone after a team scavenger hunt outing, and when asked by the waiter if I wanted anything I asked what they had on tap; barely hiding his indignation he replied they had 160 beers on tap. Oh, I thought, hence the name Taphouse. Who knew? The nearby Nike store isn’t about Greek goddesses, nor does the nearby Brooks store sell lots of Blazing Saddles DVDs, so what’s a feller to do. Enough about my day.
Upon leaving the house of 160 beers on tap behind (they have Carlsberg (P.S. Carlsberg has “Probably the best website in the world”) on tap, place is nuts… oh and I got a black and tan and then drunkily expounded on to me drunkie poo Irish companions about the black and tans and Parnell this and Parnell that and oranges and greens and a rainbow of wee colors with a pot o’ gold at the bottom, by gibberty gibbet! hmmm… just went from bad Irish to crusty prospector, not sure that worked as well as I thought it would). Enough about my drinking escapades.
What I was trying to say was that it was raining outside. Heavily. Big cold suicidal drops. I quickly left the downtown zone (for Non-Seattle-ites that means about six blocks either direction) and was nearing my building when I saw a line of bicyclists working their way up the main North/East arterial drag that goes past my building. To center my story I must digress and say this arterial gets clogged with rush hour traffic to the point of paralysis; oftentimes when I’m walking along that street at that time of day I will cover the five blocks between our company buildings faster than the traffic. Imagine then how cool it is to be on a bike, not staying stuck in the traffic which would I guess be the legal thing, but instead to hop on the sidewalk and skitter forth. Surlylady does that everyday while I wait impatiently for her (inside joke!). Enough about traffic patterns.
As I was saying I spotted some cyclists and one of them had a very distinctive look about him. Sure enough, it was IbisLad. What wasn’t squaring, as I spotted him between stationary buses and cars on the other side of the street, was that he was on a green bike… what the, a new bike? I had to say hi. So I ran/caught a light and alighted. It was IbisLad, on his green Hakkalugi. Keep in mind it was raining dogs and horses this whole time and there he was, looking like he was the consummate pro commute biker all decked out in jacket and glasses, a very heroic figure talking about slogging through 17 miles more of this rain. The light changed and he waved goodbye and took off into the muck. What an inspiration!
Later, when I was waiting to cross that same street to catch a bus I waited next to a biker on the sidewalk; another pulled up next to us, looked up at the sky, then looked at the other biker and they shared a rueful grin and a shake of the head. Then, light change and they were off. If it was a cigarette ad in the middle of an old western paperback they’d be Marlboro bikers, I swear.
There’s just something so cool and heroic about these winter commuters. I know I’m susceptible, and biased to boot, and frustratedly jealous, and I’d had nearly two entire beers (that’s nearly my total yearly capita) but still I think the image of Ibislad and the other commuters in the rain was beyond cool, like those pictures you see of cyclocross racers in Belgium or certain old school Parix-Roubaix pictures, a certain resolute silhouette, slight figures against rain-dark skies, all such grown more compelling as the days get shorter and the bike rooms get emptier.
Last week I was riding the elevator (what, you try walking up eight flights in bike shoes) and a co-worker from a distant IT territory looked over and said, “So summer’s ’bout over, you probably won’t be riding in much more this year right?” I took a swig from my water bottle, the one with the graphic that reads ‘Me Bikey, You Stupid’ and after a considering pause looked over with Surly-steel blue eyes and replied evenly, “I ride all year long.”