I saw a dead head sticker on a Cadillac, a little voice inside my head said don’t look back you can never look back.
Ok, maybe I didn’t really see that sticker. I didn’t actually; to be completely honest I stole the lyrics from Don Henley’s “Boys of summer”.
I arrived at Bike Bakersfield just as the sun was coming up. I could see that the bluish, chilled sky was about to bring forth something unexpected, good or bad, what ever it may have been I just had an overwhelming sense of the happening.
I sat at my desk.
My skin still slightly confused as to whether or not it was frozen or on fire.
As for my brain, well I knew that once I arrived it meant it was” time to get to work”, but when you are given this gem, this incredible job that allows one to create and brainstorm freely on something you feel is an extension of your soul, to do, without the constraints of time could be extremely difficult for a mind such as mine to wrap fully around.
I mean sure, Id like to sit here and say I sat for the next three hours contemplating what I as a member of Bike Bakersfield could do to improve our community.
An event? Eh… well my minds eye was able to see a glimpse of a festival-ish bike-party. But nothing really important stuck out in that cloud.
All the while I was thinking “hmm, I could call a School!!”
That sentence would have probably ended with “to see if they wan..” but just like that I seem to have been cut off by an answering machine, or the answering machines personal answer machine.
And well, pen tapping is only fun when you can’t hear the fact that you have little rhythm.
Much less is it conducive to a place that relies on critical thinking, idea generating and abracadabra’s.
Yes! Of course that was a joke, this place is one that relies on the community, and for the community to back its purpose 100 percent, and most importantly for it’s employees to be in A-T-T-A-C-K mode 200 percent of the time.
The previous two paragraphs were something I knew, but something that was not stirring me up for? Yes, A-T-T-A-C-K mode 200 percent (not sold at GNC, for those inquiring).
I could not stand the fact that I was sitting in front of a computer. I wasn’t even google satellit..ing, could you believe that?
“I rebuke this existential work crisis” I thought.
-Wow that’s strange I actually thought “F*@^ this” but Microsoft Word translated it to the segment above this.
I hopped out of the shop.
I was eager to hit the road.
And to my surprise a gentleman who was roughly 75 years old walked up just as I was locking the door that seems to never cooperate.
“I’m Bill, and I was hoping I could come in and see if I could buy a bike, preferably used” BB:”well Bill were actually closed on Mondays but you can definitely come on in tomorrow around 10am or so…and its great you specifically mentioned a used bike because that’s what we specialize in.” Bill:”well I came all the way out from Tehachapi, and quite frankly I need one soon, the doctor says I should or need to start my exercising” BB:”Mmhmm..” Bill:”So I thought what better way to exercise while seeing the world! A bike of course”
This is where I would like the readers to stop!
Inhale, clear the cloudy consciousness and
Take a second and let Bill the 75 year old teach you a really important lesson.
Ok times up.
Was I right? A bicycle isn’t just a toy, it isn’t just a vehicle that In reality, could get you from point a to point b if you were in dire desperation, its not just what we need to clean this air up, that same air that poses serious threat to our nations health, and its not just something that is convincing enough for christ’s sake, a 75 year old man to know that a bicycle will improve his health significantly!
I will make sure he gets a bicycle.
As if that wasn’t inspiring enough, I set out on my journey.
I pushed a Workman Industrial Bicycle which sported a huge Bike Bakersfield sticker to the front of the basket to a brother bike shop to have some wheels of mine repaired.
I’m sure it was appealing to people driving there cars.
After all it was a pretty cold, gray morning, so what the hell is this kid doing riding a bicycle with a smile.
I’m proud to say I was working. It still sounds a little strange describing what I love to do as work but I sure was.
I swung through a few neighborhoods I had never gone through, observing life in a way you can only do willingly if you’re on a bike or walking, truthfully.
I began to feel at ease with where I was at in my life’s timeline.
Proud was one word I can remember conjuring up, optimistic was another that came to me, not so much in a word but more so in a smirk, the kind of smirk that you’d feel the need to hide just as you were leaving the bank where you’ve just committed the most incredible heist.
Not that I encourage that behavior.
I pulled up to the intersection of Oak and highway 99 where I saw through my peripherals, a gentleman riding a bike that was the epitome of Frankenstein.
He saw that I had a rim set, two new tires in the basket and asked in broken English, if they were for sell.
“ agh, no sorry. RE-Pairs, as if I had to talk louder because of his race” and just so people know you can talk with an inside voice, they understand that better! And you don’t end up looking like a fool.
“oh ok, ma-be you know where I’can buy?”
BAM! Just like that A-T-T-A-C-K mode 200 percent kicked in!
I just knew what to say, and for once I had the resources to help him out in the ways he needed, If not more.
There was tons of history written of this mans face, along with the smile he wore. He was Filipino and probably here in Bakersfield chasing a dream,… of success? Well who really knows, but I can assure you that regardless of what he wore, or what he looked like or what type of bike he was on, the feeling he gave me was simply human. A human who understood kindness, one who was getting by with the “minimal mindset” which in this day and age is something only a few can achieve.
He was a cyclist.
He was a person of this community who knew that Bike Bakersfield was for the people.
He went one way I went the other, I thought to myself “ I wonder if I would actually ever see him again”, he seemed very interested but I had to give him directions about four different times, so to be completely honest I doubted I would.
The unusual thing is, is that just as I began to write about running into him, he walked into Bike Bakersfield.
We got him a 24inch wheel for his bike, and I got to chat with him briefly. And off he went, with that same smile he wore just three days prior.
What I write is nothing but truth.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, and maybe consider writing my first novel, I will end this diary with the last encounter of my being out on the road.
About 35 minutes had passed.
And my wheels were fixed and my errand was just about done.
I took Stockdale back towards town. Sure, I’m not supposed to ride in the oncoming traffic bike lane, but today was the exception.
Otherwise I wouldn’t have seen this familiar profile riding nearly as fast as the traffic.
There I was huffing and puffing trying to get that angle on him to see if it was in fact the person I thought it was.
We both caught the red light, I did that look, the one where you raise your hand to the top of your forehead and look as if you’re semi-lost. I didn’t have to fake it too much longer because the person waved at me, “I knew it” I thought “but wait, Gabe just got that bike”, and I know he mentioned being “extremely out of shape”. So how he was getting it?, I may never know.
He was definitely getting it nonetheless.
About a month ago we sat at Dagny’s coffee house, Gabe whose a phenomenal struggling artist mentioned he needed to figure out a way to get to and from work, I suggested the obvious, “get a bike”
“well I don’t have one”
BB:”well get one”
“eh I’m not much of a cyclist, walking though I can do”
That response wasn’t a bad one, after all he’s definitely using alternative transportation, but of course I needed him to just say ok I’ll try a bike out even if he was lying.
The conversation went other places I’m sure.
I had seen him on a few other occasions, whether it was updating me on a piece of work (*CoughCough* he was thinking about giving me) or just in passing.
But, still, he was on foot.
Until this beautifully unfolded day.
I crossed the street.
Gabe! I shouted, crap man not even I could catch up to you (internal thought: as if I was some Kevin Bacon of Quick Silver the movie)
“well I’m just trying to keep up with traffic”
Right on I thought, he cut off my thought process with something that resonated with me, like a child he said “you were right!, now when I’m at home I just feel some urge to get out and ride for no reason at all, the sense of liberty it gives me…” the light turned green and we hit the street.
Not much was said on the way back due to him being a new cyclist.
But I couldn’t help but have that same smirk the entire way back.
Cars buzzed by, exhaust spilled out into the air, and horns blared aloud, but what was even louder than all of that was the fact that I felt fulfilled, not only would my boss be proud, or even the scientist whose an radical activist of pollution, but most importantly our true mother. EARTH.
Every one of us is doing a great justice by simply riding a bicycle. Push. And then keep pushing.