Friday, May 11, 2007

El Toro Negro, May 4, 5, and 6, Continued


6:30 Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
6:45 Coat my groin with vaseline (to avoid chafing).
6:50 Get dressed, go downstairs, tend to the myriad details necessary for getting out the door by 7:15.
7:15 Out the door. It is pretty fucking cold. I'm glad I wore three layers.
7:45 Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. A sight even the most jaded would suggest was one to behold.
7:50 We wend our way through downtown Manhattan, attempting to avoid the official starting line crowds; make our way to the West Side Bike Path. I point out the new Frank Gehry building on 18th Street to Dave. I remain undecided on the relative merits of this structure.
7:59 We pass the place where the Intrepid used to dock. We have also, by this time, passed two white bikes. White bikes are just that, old bikes painted white, tires and all, and chained to some unmoveable object. Each is a memorial to someone who died riding his/her bike on the path. I was once almost killed by a van near one of the white bikes.
8:30 We join the top of the tour at the top of the park. We perceive ourselves to be elite riders.
9:30 Am surprised, actually, that the climb up the entrance ramp to the 59th Street Bridge is as trouble-free as it is. I find myself thinking about painting Old Bobby Lee.
9:40 Riding through a particularly ugly part of Queens, heading for the Astoria Park, I realize I've not applied enough vaseline. This troubles me, as we are only about 20 miles in and I'm heating up, as they say.
11:00 We are cruising along one of my favorite parts of the route, just a noplace road somewhere near where Queens turns into Brooklyn. We pass the Brooklyn Navy Yards and enter Dumbo. The view of the bridges is fun, and then we're on the BQE. The night before, I had promised Don that we would, at a certain point, ride with a hole in our formation in acknowledgement of his previous excellent work on the tour, much the way the Blue Angels leave a hole in their formation to honor fallen comrades. Although I'm writing about it now, I don't thing we ever adopt the formation.
11:30 Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, etc.
12:15 Begin the ascent of the Verrazano Bridge. I am pleased to find that the wind is to our backs, making the trip easier. Just FYI, the Tibetan word for Mt. Everest is Sagarmatha.
12:29 We reach the center of the bridge's span and pull over, as previously agreed, so I can toss Dad over the side.
12:30 The New York Harbor is shining like a National guitar.
12:31 The wind subsides enough so that most of Dad goes down, not up. I think it is going well. I toss out a bit of Shakespeare. Dave says something like, "Good bye, Allen."
12:32 I turn to Chuck and say, "Chuck, thank you for being a part of this," or something to that effect. Chuck was supposed to have said a Hebrew prayer but he forgot. I did too, so how can I hold it against him?
12:33 I turn to Dave and say, "Dave, thank you for..." At this point I find that my throat has clenched shut and I can't get the rest of the words out. Instead of finishing the sentence I give him a manly embrace instead. I was talking to my aunt Betty earlier today and explaining that even though I am at peace with the time and manner of Dad's death, there are moments of great sadness that hit me unexpectedly. And it was there, on Sagarmatha, in the freezing cold, with the wind screaming around us, each of us, in our own way, fighting for survival, when I felt like I was going to burst into tears. Since everybody's eyes were already watering, likewise our noses, I dont' think anyone noticed my extremus.
12:33:30 It occurs to me that Dave and Chuck are two of my dearest friends, and that I am happy to share this strangely gripping moment with the two of them. My only regret is the absence of BFF Earl from Denver. Had he been there it would have been perfect (even if one of us would have had to short-rope him up the bridge). That, and if Chuck had remembered his Hebrew prayer.
13:30 Steaming towards Manhattan on the ferry.
14:00 Despite Lenny coming up a bit lame right at the end, we get to New York Noodle Town and order Barbequed pork appetizers, fried chives with duck, salt baked shrimp, chicken breast in a ginger sauce and Shanghai Mai Fun. This last one isn't actually the correct name, but close enough. I'm missing a word, and some of the other words may be incorrect. This is why I always let Chuck order. Anyway, it's damned good.
16:30 Take a shower. Take a nap.
17:20 Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
18:00 Find myself, with Dave, Chuck and Wynne, inexplicably eating another meal. The only reason I agreed to such foolishness was that we were going to Momofuku, which, really, is not to be missed.
19:00 Buy a black and white cookie from a Jewish bakery on 2nd Avenue. It is excellent. I am reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's thoughts on black and white cookies:
The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want
to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better
than vanilla and chocolate And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us.
If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.
22:00 Go to bed.


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