It's just ducky

A couple of months ago, while searching the yard for a garden hose nozzle, I noticed a sparkle of brilliance reflecting from a thick growth of ivy at the base of our large English walnut tree.

It was all I needed to retask my efforts toward the removal of the ivy, which, if left unchecked, would inexorably climb up the tree and eventually choke the mighty shade tree by force of numbers.

In short order I was busy sheering and trimming the strides of suffocation, revealing two steel mountain bikes years ago parked and long since forgotten.

The easy part was liberating, then pressure washing these prisoners of neglect, then delivering them to the bike store for triage and treatment.

I soon found that the most difficult aspect of the reunion was the human component, which, while not putting too fine a point on it, was me.

I began by simply riding my long-lost steel stallion for a 20 block loop through the flats of the Railroad District, which should have been smooth sailing. Instead I quickly realized that, for reasons as yet unknown, some measures of comfort had jumped ship, leaving me with a few exposed barnacles.

The saddle had, over the years and due to exposure, evolved into a substance so hard that it felt like a blacksmith's anvil. While this may seem a mere metaphor, the flaming sparks that emitted from my hind side as I cranked down the street, lent credence to this most personal observation.

The height of the anvil seemed to have been adjusted over the years to accommodate different riders and the last to hammer away must have been the height of a leprechaun, for my knees kept punching me in the jaw as I wheeled and wheezed down the street.

It seems that over the years the handlebars had slithered ground ward, for it wasn't long before my upper body took umbrage to the near total mid push-up required to keep me somewhat in charge of the steering, for what little that accomplished.

The next morning, after ingesting a cereal bowl of ibuprofen, I moved the seat much higher and used a gel cushion to deflect the abusive thunderbolts from Zeus. The new height of the seat made me appear like a bowling ball with ultra-thin celery stalk legs, but this did not strike me as unusual, given the alleys I traversed without throwing a gutter ball.

Day after day I smiled maniacally as I rode through the Plaza and headed up the park, past the upper duck pond, around the swimming hole, up past a huskiness of Sherpa, beyond the discarded canisters of oxygen and planted national flags to a grey world of dizziness, cramps and chain grease.

The ride down the hill was a different matter altogether. I accelerated from resting to a blur in a blink. My lycra riding shorts, which were amazingly tighter than skin itself, fluttered like the tent flaps of a Kansas church revival skirted by a tornado. All manner of detritus, insects and rocks bounced off my face as my mouth was parted by the air as if I were riding a rocket test sled. My eyes retreated into my head and it seemed that I was looking out of a pair of deeply dug wells. I bounded off the road, apparently in search of trees to brake my speed. I flew off a cliff, over a fence and into the swimming hole, swiftly sinking.

I surfaced to the hoots and hollers of a couple of extreme trail riders, who seemed to clutch to the thought that I intentionally flew into the drink. I rubbed the water from my eyes, which were no longer well-bound and looked in their direction and boomed:

"The other two times I cleared the pond entirely and bounced off some boulders down the creek," an assertion that most definitely met with their approval.

Lance was last seen panting through the park, in search of the ultimate high. Please roll him a canister of oxygen to He will hold his breath until it arrives.

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