Really, I had just been trying to figure out for awhile how I could write about the burned Jesus.
Paul wants to ride hard, which sometimes is the same as riding fast but lately, with the wind, has been worse than fast. He is making our knees ache, and the other day we rode so hard the rest of us were sore in places like our fingers and jawbones. Maybe he was too. He doesn’t say. He never does. Brad is sick with what he always gets sick with in the spring, so in the double paceline we all keep trying to be either in front of him or on the upwind side, which makes Paul’s hard rides harder for us. Howard got a new bike, and he loves it, maybe a little more than everyone always loves a new bike. We’re happy for him, because he had a rough go there in the fall with his job and all, but, if we’re honest, we kind of miss seeing him on his old steel Merckx. Kim already has her good cadence, the one we are a little in love with. Andrew is going the best of any of us right now, and he keeps saying it’s because he was willing to ride the trainer all winter, and we keep getting a kick out of that, that he thinks it’s a matter of will instead of priorities. We keep asking him about it. When we got to the hill today, Ben just swung to the left out of the line and said he was going back, with neither shame nor hesitation, and we thought better of him for that. Colin sat on the front until he blew in that first tiny way riders do in spring, and for that we thought better of him. The roads are hammered. On the usually fun downhill run where we chase each other then sprint up the last rise to no known finish line, we dodged potholes with bunnyhops and countersteers that were essentially nothing but jerks and instinct. And it was unusually fun. Christine came out the other day and got dropped a bunch but never quit and said it was good for her. Joe started riding, then started riding with us, and now he’s the world’s most enthusiastic cyclist, a title he shares with just about everyone who falls hard for cycling. We all keep wanting to ride beside him, for the energy. Chad did a Saturday ride and did okay, but, we said, who knows. He’s got a lot going on with the new shop. Steve was on the ride when the dirt road forked and we went the wrong way and deadended at the homestead and the farmer came out yelling but we were already gone onto the real road, which was iced and snowed over on both sides leaving only the melted dirt crown to ride, which we did way too fast because if we’d have slowed we’d have sunk in. I gave the farmer a wave from far off. I meant it friendly, sorry, but, also, see you next time. We rode back really fast, but not that hard, and that felt good and at the shop we kept saying that. Nothing ached. We knew we were going to ride again the next day. We didn’t know where, or with who, or how it would go. It was near enough to spring that we were calling it so. We said goodbye. We said thanks to each other for the ride. The snow had melted off enough that on the way home on the hill I cut over to see the Jesus that gotten its head burned up over the winter. The news kept saying someone had set the fire. But all sorts of things seemed possible these days, all kinds of miracles might still happen, and there was the possibility, I knew, that the head of Jesus had just gone to flame. I wanted to see for myself. There was no telling.
Originally published in The Selection, March 21, 2014