Thursday, October 25, 2007

She had her eye on me too.

The Japanese are amazing cyclists. Everyone cycles. I regularly see men and women over 60 adeptly bicycling through the crowds. I see old men in suits, young men in suits, and middle aged men in suits riding their bicycles. Women in heels and in the latest fashion. Mothers ride with their front basket full of groceries, a kid in front of them, but behind the handle bars and a kid on the back. Amazing. Iv`e seen guys who collect cans with a load on their bike 4 foot wide and 2 feet above their head on the back and another bag about that big on the front. All the cyclists travel in,with and among each other with incredible agility,ease and predictability. That predictability thing is important. Yesterday I was headed for a bridge. The sidewalk on the bridge was for pedestrians AND cyclists. A concrete barrier was on the left and a guard rail on the right. Regular size sidewalk and people are going every which way at speed. I tried to merge onto the bridge with the crowd but at the very last minute... I chickened out. I stopped. Voided the merge. I also jammed up traffic five and six bikes back; created a pile up. I was thankful for the language barrier once again. I finally got on the bridge. People were passed each other within inches. I cringed as people on bikes passed walkers, came right at me and at the very last moment, with ease and grace, they glided on by. No facial expression,no cringe,no exchange of bows to indicate who should go first or stop or anything. I in the meantime involuntarily lifted my hand off the near side handle bar, flinched, sucked my shoulder in and tried not to say " whoa whoa whoa". Before I started across the bridge I had noticed a tiny tiny elderly woman on her bike in the middle of all this controlled chaos. She had to have been in her seventies and could not have weighed more than 85 pounds. She had a bunch of flowers in her front basket along with a few groceries. She had gone ahead of me on the bridge. I had opted to be the last rider onto the bridge so that I could wimper and flinch in relative obscurity. I lost sight of her on the bridge but as we all piled up at the end I noticed her again. She moved ahead of me; she was better on the merge. I caught up to her on a straight away, passed her, then had to stop to adjust my seat. She glided on by. I passed her again on a uphill only to have my load shift; so I stopped and she... glided on by. It got crowded at another intersection and I lost her. As the crowds thinned out further down the road there she was. Now I am not saying I was being competitive with an elderly woman on a Ozzie and Harriet bike but, well, she was impressive. And dammit she was ahead of me. I did pass her again only to have to stop. I pulled my bike close to me. I smiled and said "Gomen na sai" or " excuse I`m an idiot". She smiled and rolled on by. I watched her as she went. Incredible. She was so tiny and damn old to be on a bike but she was slow and steady for sure. She dissappeared beyond a curve and I figured she was gone. I took a drink, tied my shoes and started off again. I was going uphill on the sidewalk. It is a tight fit. It got crowded again. I weaved and cringed. Stop,go,stop,go, shuffle shuffle. As I came through a crowd there she was on the corner. She was shopping at an outdoor market. I began to pass and as I did she caught my eye, smiled,waved and said "bye bye".


Judy said...

"Gomen na sai".....
too funny ! You're an excellent story teller. Keep it coming womyn. :-)

Anonymous said...


Your stories are my entertainment! Keep them coming!