Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Encounters: Bikes meet Bumps and Punks

I almost bit it with the Julep. I was cruising Southeast on Elston. The wind was at my back as I biked home and I was flying. If the cars would have been obeying the speed limit, I absolutely would have passed them, instead, I was only keeping up with them. Suddenly I noticed a huge ‘bump’ that spanned the bike lane. There was a garbage truck chugging beside me, so I couldn’t swerve around this bump, that was basically the height/shape of a steep speedbump.

I have only minimal control of my bikes and hitting this bump, at the speed I was going scared the crap out of me. Obviously, my bike caught pretty good air – and then had to come back down. I don’t know what my legs were doing mid-air, but my guess is that the speed of my pedalling got off kilter from the speed of my bike. When the rear wheel hit the ground, my left foot unclipped and bounced from the pedal, leaving me with an unbalanced fixed gear bike that I tried to control with just one foot on the pedals.

The traffic light at the intersection also turned red in the meantime, so besides working to keep the rubber side down, I now had to slow down this runaway bike, while my left food was suspended in the air, fearful of getting smacked by the pedal. Eventually, my foot found the pedal and we came to a quick, but safe stop at the intersection.

The truck driver was very cool during this weird, unsightly mess. He braked and dropped back considerably, and moved to the left of his lane while I was showcasing my inability to keep my bike under control. I was happy to know that while I might not be able to keep my skin from the ground, the truck driver was going to help me stay out from under his wheels.

Despite the bump incident, it was really fun to take the Julep up to speed again.

Maybe she was just thanking me for defending her honor the day before. While puttering around sick in my apartment, I heard the tinkling of the Breeze’s windchimes and my ears perked up to hear a voice urge, "just take it".

Like Hell.

I grabbed my keys and flew down the steps to investigate my bikes. Both the Breeze’s windchimes, along with her basket and bell were intact. Then I turned my eye and noticed that on of the Julep’s drop bar taillights was sticking out weirdly. I started to push it back in when I realized that she was missing her left streamers. My attention snapped to the group of teenagers walking further down the block and I started after them. A glint of silver in one boy’s hand identified his stolen bounty, and I ran to close the distance.

I stormed in front of the punk and demanded that he give it back. Quickly he relinquished the streamer and I told him to keep his hands off other people’s stuff, before turning back home. I don’t remember what exactly the words were, but after I was halfway down the block, he shouted something, and I turned and caught back up with them again.

I walked alongside the boy in silence as his friends snickered. He began repeating that he doesn’t care if I walk with them, but he was obviously uncomfortable and getting more so. He threatened to change course and walk back to ‘the ‘hood’ to see how I’d like it there.' He then turned East and I couldn’t help but laugh and mock, "exactl what ‘hood’ are you trying to go to in that direction? Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Noble Square? You don’t even know where the ‘hood is from here, and instead are heading into yuppie central." The boys responded by saying that they were on their way to meet with a rapist, "he should be happy to see you."

Obviously, they were full of shit, and I wasn’t buying it. I questioned and lectured him a bit about his stealing, and he claimed that he didn’t know the streamer belonged to someone. Eventually, he became so uncomfortable that he ran down a breezeway, away from his friends and me. I stayed and talked with his friends for a bit. The oldest, in his mid-twenties, asked how old I was and if I had a boyfriend, and whether I’d date him. I declined the offer, explaining that I don’t date thieves, or those who hang out with thieves. I said that I prefer to date men who work to make their communities better instead of ruining them.

Next I pointed out that their friend, who seemed to try hard to appear tough, just ran away from a woman considerably smaller than him, because he is a coward. Eventually the boy returned to the group, and the youngest boy teased him for being scared by a girl. I left him to deal with the taunts from his friends. Of course, after I was nearly a block away, he started yelling insults again.

I just went home to re-attach the streamer and make the Julep whole again.


At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Randy said...

YOU ROCK!! You handled that so well!

Good job!

Good recovery on the Julep as well, anything that does not draw blood is a win. Good on the garbage truck driver too--rare.


At 6:38 AM, Blogger George said...


If I wasn't happily married, I would drive out to Chicago and *beg* you to marry me:-)

At 8:25 PM, Blogger jojo said...

The situation with the wannabe thugs actually left me feeling really unsatisfied.

No props deserved.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Nathan said...

Yowza - you're my hero. "No props deserved" my ass.


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