Steven hunkered down over the low-slung handlebars, pulled his knees in and coasted. He listened to his skinny tires humming on the pavement, felt the wind rushing over his goggled face. The cool morning breeze airbrushed him alert, energized him, made him feel young. He felt his neck muscles tighten from the cramped angle required to look forward——north, up Tenth Avenue, one-way and all to himself, except for the cars clogged at the intersection a block ahead. He was catching up to them now, and doing a pretty good clip, thirty miles an hour, he figured. Passing cabs like they’re standing still. He grinned, noting that they were still——three lanes of them, stymied five deep at a Manhattan red light.
With a flick of his head, he glanced over his shoulder then angled out of the far right lane and into the space between cars in the middle lanes. It was safe here from car doors flinging open, a constant fear when riding next to the parking lane. He cruised up to the light and looked for room between the cars moving across 43rd. Spotting an opening, he stood in his pedals, pumped hard and shot the gap between a cab and a Toyota. He sped past them, through the intersection and into open road.
Exhilarated, he pounded his legs up and down like pistons, swinging the bike frame side to side at each stroke. He had the lights for a few blocks now, so he released the handlebars, sat upright and coasted again, his arms spread like wings. Cheap thrills, he thought with a smile. Even at his age he could still crash a light so fast that most drivers didn’t even tap their brakes. Look out for guys over forty with something to prove.
He’d been riding like this for years, his main pillar of exemption from being just another massed and teeming New Yorker. What he lacked in physical prowess he made up in danger quotient. Sure, it was crazy——hot-dogging at high speed as if the cabbies gave a damn if he lived or died. If he had kids he’d be like the normal guys his age, riding sensibly, their offspring mounted behind them on tot carriers. Without health insurance, he knew it was doubly foolish. But it made him feel centered. Powerful. I am prospering in all that I do, he affirmed silently. I’m releasing myself from fear and limitation. God provides me with all I ask for.
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