For as long as he’s been out from under the passenger seat of my car, CycloMonkey has been begging to go for bike rides. It doesn’t matter where or when. We’ve ventured out a little farther each time. And this morning I had planned to let him join me on the commute ride to work.
My backpack has four little elastic loops and I though perhaps CycloMonkey could hold on to each one and ride backwards, spread eagle, and talk to my drafting partners. So at 5:45am, we tried out the backpack. Nope, doesn’t work. The loops were too small. “Sorry buddy, not today. Back on the hook for you.” And I put him back on my bike rack in the garage.
He didn’t complain. He just stared at me. “Oh, stop it.” I couldn’t put him in my jersey pocket because the backpack would cover his head. That’s no way to go. “No, sorry, you can’t go today.” Stare. Silence. More staring. “Okay, you can ride in my backpack and you can stick your head out.”
As with most days commuting, I met up with my buddies at 6:00am at the appointed location, waited the requisite two minutes for stragglers then rolled out in formation. The first third of the ride is mostly flat, as suburbia slips away and we pick up a little bit of speed. With six of us, we each get one pull up front and a couple of us get two turns before we start the climb up Calaveras. At that point, I’m fatigued and use the climb to recover while a couple of the stronger riders carry a quicker pace up the hill only to wait there for me and the rest. CycloMonkey stays quiet through it all, not engaging much with the others and quietly wondering about mountain lion attacks. Mountain lions are quite unlike the lions he’s familiar with but equally deadly – especially if you are zipped up in a bite-sized backpack.
We stop somewhere along “the rollers” (the middle third) since this is CycloMonkey’s first glimpse of Calaveras Reservoir. Then it’s up to me to catch up to the peloton who seem to have put the hammer down. They wait patiently at the top of the wall then we tuck and zoom down the hill at speeds exceeding 40mph. For a tiny monkey facing backwards, it’s both terrifying and exhilarating. Until it’s not. At the bottom of the hill we encounter civilization again. Stoplights, traffic, construction, noise, more traffic, more stoplights, until we reach the two-story, concrete tilt-up with faux tiles and pointless stucko columns that I call my office. Milpitas, Silicon Valley, USA.
Then we descend and power through the last third of the ride in a simulated time trial. CycloMonkey has no idea what a time trial is, nor why we don't stop and explore. But he also doesn't know about being late for dinner. He's a stuffed animal, after all. Let's not forget that.
And finally we are back home.