Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pelaton of Lost Souls

It was a dark muggy morning in a city that knows how to sleep. The long hot night was about to turn into a long hot day and folks would wake up to spend the day huddled in their homes to avoid a sun that knew how to shine down like a terrible bright and shiny hot thing. Not even the cars were awake, but pedalling through the darkness was one soul, searching for riders in a darkness, losing the battle to keep it's grip on the city. That's me there. My friends call me Chain, Chain Tool, finder of lost souls.

It was a lonely night, not a person was about but the occasional car speeding off to work some awful job which keeps them up at these lonely hours of the morning. Off in the darkness, I knew the mob was gathering, ready to take the roads of Mesa and Apache Jct. in their cruel grip. Who would fall prey to their cruel onslaught? What poor souls would be left bereft and friendless in the wake of their oppressive sweep of all that lay before? Who indeed.

Suddenly a light penetrates the darkeness and is gone again. A solitary figure on a bicycle going the wrong direction. Naught but a tiny pawn in a bigger conspiracy. Today there were larger fish to fry. Following another figure in the darkness I know I am on the trail, a trail to what is the question. I notice the figure's tiny poorly aimed taillight was a sure sign this was no ordinary cyclist. No, this was a person not so concerned about the strict legality of the system, this was a person who lived above the strict safety of the law, possibly someone even not above sliding through a stop sign in an abandoned intersection. A person who rode with the elite scum of the east Mesa roady scene. Yes, this was a person who must be under the protection of the mob.

Riding like a wolf in the night I trailed him through the darkness. Then, like something that is suddenly not there, he is gone. I pedal on searching the corners and alleys until suddenly, like a thief in the night I am caught but he mistakes me for one of his own. Apparently he did not see my makeshift headlight or my dirty frame, dusty and oily from a thousand commutes, loyal, yet so neglected by a man undeserving of it. The rider makes chit chat as slowly the group grows and grows. Like a little thing that is enclosed by a much larger thing, I am enfolded in the arms of the mob.

As the mob moved up the first hill it was quite clear to me who was in charge. Yes, today the mob had obviously been handed into the control of a man known as "Mr. Fast". He was a sadisticaly cruel man who joyed in driving many a rider to madness and gasping oblivion in his wake as he ruthlessly dropped them into the lonely darkness of the night.

Nearing the top of the hill a poor soul is lost to the night like an old barnacle scraped off the bottom of a speeding boat. I am hard pressed to hold the pack and not alone as the pack is soon split and the elusive "Mr. Fast" speeds up the hill with his gang of seedy cohorts, the Pelaton of Lost Souls.

They would not stay lost for long. Though "Mr. Fast" smug in his knowledge he had broken the pack, was not ready to let us go so easily. No, in his devious delight, he had pulled one of his cruelest tricks out of his hat. For waiting beyond the drop on the hill was the regroup just beyond the summit. Speeding down the hill we were like lambs before the butcher, knowing that somewhere out in the morning dawn was another hill, waiting for "Mr. Fast" to inflict another serving of a cold dish of filet mignon. A dish made entirely of animals too slow to avoid the butchers knife, sidling along in helplessness awaiting the day of reckoning, unable to flee but awaiting the doom of being served up on a platter to the victors of the day.

Halfway across town, another handful of riders fall victim to "Mr. Fast"'s awful fancy of frenetic fastness. It seemed as if none could withstand the fury of the fastness. Just past a little joint called the "Dash In", a store of, shall we say "convenience" If you know what I mean, he has escaped my clutches and speeds off into the morning sun, having left me like something that was part of a lot of things but is ruthlessly left behind.

I knew that perhaps today was not the day to nail "Mr. Fast" to the wall. He had won today but I swore I would catch him someday. I needed to save some energy for next week. I was helping an old friend organize another ride. She was a nice lady, didn't hang around the east valley mob much, but she really knew how to organize a bicycle ride if you know what I mean.

Although "Mr. Fast", was gone, the trail was still hot. I mixed among a couple of lost souls meandering in the wake of the pelaton when I spied one of "Mr. Fast"'s henchmen off to the side of the road. It seems he had some problems with a rough customer named "Ace", full name Dura Ace. Mr. Ace was a complex character strung together in an intricate connection of links. Well, of course, I pulled over. Stalled and forlorn on the side of the road, this creature of the speeding pelaton was reduced to a walking shell of what he was. I of course was familiar with the work of Mr. Ace, having had dealings with him before. It seemed Mr. Ace in his intricate wonder had sprung a link and left our friend a lost soul in the desert. Intricate though he may be, Mr. Ace often has a weak link and I knew exactly what it was. Before long and a bit of "coaxing" I had gotten what we needed out of Mr. Ace and our friend was on his way. Even if he was a henchman of "Mr. Fast", a man has to take pity on a lost soul. After all, that's my job, Chain Tool, finder of lost souls.

The sun was hitting me like a searing hot thing, and I knew if I didn't move it out of there I'd be as dead as a thing that is really dead. This was a cruel town, and a man without water finds his life is not worth something that is worth absolutely nothing. Pursuing the trail of "Mr. Fast" I am passed by a group of forlorn lost souls going the other way and I take up pursuit but am soon lost again in the wake of the henchmen of "Mr. Fast". This group obviously was led by "Mr. Fast"'s right hand man "Sprinty".

A man like "Sprinty" may be fast but I knew his weakness. He had a thing for stores of "convenience" as I mentioned before. I knew that before long he would show up at the "Dash In" looking for beverages to sooth his burning thirst. The likes of "Sprinty" aren't seen around holsum places like drinking fountains, but like their sports drinks cold and full of electrolytes and served in the seedy stores of "convenience" like the "Dash In". Sure enough he was there, suddenly we were off like a bullet shot out of something that would make it go really fast.

"Sprinty" pulling the "Paceline of Lost Souls" across the good town of Apache Jct at 30 mph. He pushed the limit and we all struggled to stay on. On and on he raged across the landscape. I doggedly held the wheel not to be dissuaded again. Then suddenly, a gap opened in front of the guy in front of me, it grew wider and wider. We were getting dropped by "Mr. Sprinty" at long last. Firmly swearing under my breath that I would not allow another lost soul I pulled out my trusty friend I call the "pacemaker", my trusty aerobars, and I sped to pull another lost soul back up to the paceline. Rejoining the paceline we had broken the pace of "Mr. Sprinty" and everything slowed down.

I turned onto a lonely avenue to head for home. I had not caught "Mr. Fast", but I did manage to help two souls left for lost by the Pelaton of Lost Souls. After all, that's my job. Chain Tool, finder of Lost Souls.

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