a bicycle parade for one.
Tif stands with her bike, neos come out with a large metal pole or a 2×4. They slide it through the back “triangle” of the bike. Neos are split. One or two people will be on the front stem, holding the bike in place.
The majority of Damen Avenue is a safe place to ride. There are bike lanes with mild traffic and very few lights. But there is a section where the bike lanes disappear, just south of Belmont in front of a park. If there is a bus at that bus stop, it’s very hard to be seen.
They lift the wheel just off the ground. Tif pedals. Speed increases throughout monologue.
There was a time when I was an avid cyclist. An all-weather, toe-clipped, helmet-less, fix-your-own-flat-on-the-sidewalk cyclist. I would travel through the loop and over grated bridges with zero fear. I was late to learn how to ride my bike, but once I did, it was impossible to get me off of it. I am an anxious person but on my bicycle, I’m at my best. I watch the sun come up as I ride empty streets to work. I let go of my handlebars at two AM on the Lakefront Path, after all the teenagers have left and the streetlights have come on. I am not a physically strong person but on my bike, I can feel my thighs pump pints of blood and my calves double in size. It is the one place in my life that forces me to be alive and present.
Every October 21st, for the last 4 years, friends and family coordinate a group bike ride. They travel together and end at the corner of Damen and Wellington, where the bike lane stops. I imagine they bring flowers. I imagine they go during the day and that they lay their bikes in the grass. I can’t say for sure because I’ve never been on one of these rides. I choose not to go. For me, the intersection can be very loud. Somedays, I can still hear sirens. Somedays, I can picture her still alive. But most days, I just see her laying in the intersection with a stranger praying over her.
She breaks. The bike is set down.
I planned on going this year. But before I planned to go, I planned to be out of town. So instead of waiting until October, I’d like to go tonight. I’ll ride over to Damen and stop at all the lights.
And if you rode a bike to the show, I’d like you to come.
written & performed for TMLMTBGB, 2013