Monday, September 10, 2012

Tunnel Visions

Their four hooves to my two wheels. We're all going home, but they don't enter the tunnel, the horses. They'll trot over to 3rd Street. Displaced by developers, they walk further north than a few years ago.

Their four wheels to my two wheels. I'm always nervous in the tunnel. If a part fails or I slip and lose control, if I'm lying on the ground in pain, will someone stop to help or even slow down or just drive by and laugh? The tunnel only has one lane for cars. I think most are heading to North Philly, but I don't know.

Coasting downward, hustling upward. A banging base line, a screaming singer, a subtle humming: music from passing vehicles. An open top convertible glides, its passengers giddy. Tinted windows accelerate, their passengers hidden. An unavoidable puddle sprays my back as I ride through it.

They pass me but then I pass them when the light is red at Callowhill. Under the bridge to 95, waiting for green, I wonder whether this one legged man will ask me for change. He does and I give him a quarter. What if an eighteen wheeler loses control up above and crushes us both?

I always peddle slowly on that wide section of 5th Street that follows, basking in a brief sense of accomplishment. The tunnel's just one of ten to twenty minutes, one minute to remind me I've been lucky so far.

17 comments:

  1. Nice piece. All my years cycling in London, I was glad to move away from the city - kept feeling my luck would run out.

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    1. Thanks, Simon, for reading and for the comment. I hope the end of the story doesn't scare people away from cycling, I only meant it to convey a feeling of gratefulness, even just to be physically able to ride in the first place.

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  2. Strong voice as usual, Richard, and a nice view into a fictive mind.

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    1. Thanks, John! I appreciate your kind words.

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  3. With the arrogance and bad standards of many drivers, the road is not the safe place for cyclists that it ought to be.

    The narrator is right to feel nervous, it sharpens the instincts.

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    1. Hi, Steve, and thanks for your comment, which makes perfect sense, sometimes nerves are probably a good thing.

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  4. I could feel his sense of fear. Great work. And it's so true, so many potential dangers out there.

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    1. Thanks, Craig! Plenty of dangers, but still a great workout and petroleum-free.

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  5. I can imagine being nervous as a cyclist. Plenty of bad drivers around.

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    1. Hello, Icy! Per Steve's comment, nervousness may be a good thing.

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  6. I dig your voice here. Direct, focused. Made me feel the cyclist's mindset as they made their way through dizzying traffic. Nice job.

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    1. Thanks, Aaron, for your kind words, good to read that you could feel the narrator's mindset in this piece.

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  7. I felt the speed and the nervousness throughout. The reference to the horses set the tone with tunnel vision. Cyclists might want blinkers to feel safe, but they better not put them on.

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    1. Hi, Brinda, thanks for stopping by, and I like your thoughts on cyclists with blinkers.

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  8. It's a brave man that cycles in the traffic these days. It was very visual this piece of writing, and the sense of apprehension of the rider came through. Nice writing as always!

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    1. Thanks, Helen! Here in Philadelphia, it seems more and more people are cycling around the city, which I think is a great thing. But it can be dangerous and people on the road, whether driving cars or buses or on bikes, need to be aware.

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