This was my final Sitting In. I could feel the end coming, when I wouldn’t want to write them anymore, and that point was still pretty far off I could tell, but I wanted to stop before I got there. I didn’t think much about how to end the whole project. I just concentrated on the story, and wrote the end of the story, and that was that.

I wanted to go out for a ride alone. I sat at my desk and worked through the lunch ride, and when Steak came by later and asked if I wanted to go out that afternoon I told him no. I told him I needed to ride by myself.

I changed down in the locker room and walked out and lifted my bike off the hook and with my thumb tested the tire pressure even though I fill them before every ride no matter what. I saw that my bottle was about half full so I didn’t take it out of the cage. For some reason, I always like the taste of the last ride I did.

No one else was in there with me. I put my shoes on and tightened the buckles and straps, and put my right hand on the saddle and walked my bike toward the door. There was a sign on the door. It reminded me to “Push.” There was a little red box to the right that said, “Fire.” I went through the door and out onto the little patio where I always mount my bike, easy and smooth, without looking down to make sure my feet find the pedals. Maybe because I was thinking of that, while I was still walking I looked down at my feet. They told me they were “Specialized.” I pushed the handlebar forward and as the bike moved I swung my right leg up and around the back of the saddle and looked at my gloved hands and they told me, “Castelli. Castelli.” The stem said “4 Axis.” And it reminded me, “Max 5 Nm.”

I was out of the grass and into the parking lot and a car passed me. I read its name, “Frontier,” then I was at the intersection to the road and I read the sign that wanted me to “Stop.” I turned right and a car passed me and I read “V6.” Another told me it was “4WD,” and the next, “330 ti.”

I got told to “Stop” again and reminded that I was on “Tenth St” going past “Employee Parking.” I looked down: “Castelli. 4 Axis. Castelli.” I looked up: “Stop. 4 way. Broad St. Pennsylvania Ave. Snow Emergency Route. Clearance 12 ft 11 in.”

I needed this ride alone.

Snow tires or chains required. No parking. Left turn yield on green. Chestnut St. Castelli. Castelli. For sale. 4 Axis. For sale. Cold Stream Cir. C.E. Loveless Masonry. No Trespassing. Stop. North St. Cold Stream Circle. Castelli. Parking Lot K. Left lane must turn left. Right lane must turn right. Specialized. Specialized. Specialized. Specialized. Specialized. Castelli.

Max 5 Nm.

When are we ever really alone? When we sleep, we cannot shut off our dreams or even choose the people in them. Chevrolet silverado suburban castelli school students holy spirit christian nursery school. In the back corner of my woods where I go to be by myself sometimes, the birds scream low and high, and if you are quiet when just about everything else happens to be, you can hear worms wriggling under pine needles, and silent shadows of jet planes sometimes fly right across yours. Speed limit 40 dodge 30 mph castelli castelli do not pass 15 mph dodge 4×4 highlander.

Castelli 38 Customized Single Homes 25 mph. Highlander. Toomey U.S. Senate. Castelli. School Bus. First Student. Reichley. Toomey. Dent. Private Roadway. Speed Limit 35. Castelli. The pedals turning, the bike rolling, the wheels throwing a shushing sound at the curbs that came back to me dopplered, sun warm on my shoulder, everything just right except for the rules, the people, the limits, the information, the companies flooding into me.

here was a first-floor master bedroom available, there was the end of roadwork, there was a model home, there was an emergency door on a school bus, there was a craft show November 6, there was land for sale and I was supposed to go 25 mph, and there were potatoes though no one said if they were for sale or if I was merely to be informed of their presence, and now I was told I could not go faster than 35 and that I should re-elect State Representative Doug Reichley and that the maximum torque on my stem bolts was 5 Newton meters and that my gloves were made by Castelli and my shoes by Specialized and my stem by Ritchey and my right glove by Castelli and my left glove by Castelli and that warehouses were now available and that the bridge weight limit was 10 tons and I was in Ford Country and had to go one way and enter here and Yocco’s was the hot-dog king and my gloves were made by Castelli and my clearance was 12 ft 10 in and I should watch children and somewhere amid all of that I was passed by Ford, Ford, Ford, Jetta, Chevrolet, Chevrolet, Subaru Suburban Ford.

I wanted to ride alone. But first I could not enter and I had to know that besides standard and custom showers I could also purchase vanity tops. I had to go one way. Gwendolyn died of a broken heart, and there was reserved parking. I was welcome in Macungie. But I could not pass. Harvey Raad wanted to sell me a house. Dent Toomey Reichley Slattery Brown wanted my vote. If I couldn’t sleep, I should count my blessings instead of sheep. I found out that if the Lord was my shepherd, I wouldn’t want—but the parking lot was for church use only. I was told I should simplify, and I turned my head to look at that yard sign as I pedaled past. I was on Mountain Road now, and I clicked down my cassette and up my chainring and to be alone in a world full of the world, I realized, was simple. I attacked the climb.

I watched my feet say Specialized until they went blurry. I read the Castelli logo on the glove of my right hand then looked forward and down, at the road. It was shiny the way they sometimes get, long-gone oils rising to mix with recent spills and the last heroic dews from hours ago and maybe the leftover molecules from the prehistoric dinosaur substances that live deep in our asphaltine particulates. My heart whapped the inside of my chest like a boxer warming up on a speedball and its sound rose through me and into my ears like that strange, growling wow-wow incantation of an infant’s heartbeat heard through an ultrasound. My breaths hurt, drowning me and scalding me in turn and at once. I was climbing and it was stupid but I took one more gear and went harder, and I found that place where I hurt so much I no longer hurt, that beautiful place I can never stay in long enough. I was alone, finally alone. Not fully conscious of it or caring anymore, I rode on.

Pretty soon my glove would remind me that it was made by Castelli, or I would be told that I should not exceed 35 mph, or that I was wilkum. It wouldn’t be long now, certainly no more than a mile or two, maybe just past the top of the climb, when I would wonder who Gwendolyn was, who broke her heart bad enough to make it stop beating, why all she must have wanted to do was to not be alone at all and why I was lucky enough to be forced to chase the feeling that had killed her. I would be told, at some point not too far off, that I should stop.

I would roll that sign.


Originally published in the Oct. 22, 2010 Sitting In