The trail pauses and trees break to remind us the city still exists all around us. Cross walk, left turn, construction signals, right turn, left turn again. It's a jumble of business suits passing parking meters and stoplights that pose as safety.
The road hardens, smooths, deceives.
A pale white hand flashes and we move forward. The turns come quickly and I don't know them. Wrong lane, wrong position. A truck squeezes by so close it latches onto my breath as it speeds away.
I want to carry on but there are callous cars coming around every corner now. Surrounded. I've lost the regiment and I retreat to the sidewalk.
I struggle to find my pattern again, of air in and air out. I need the repetition, my focus.
The air is so thick and I have to breathe more breathe faster.
The image revolves over and over. Passenger's seat, left turn, sidewalk cyclist crumples on windshield. Teeth grind particles of gray glass. A million no's. Mangled car, strangled sounds Sirens and stretchers Faster Faster Faster. I feel the impact, hear the silence before the scream. I smell the agony and comb glass residue out of my hair, scratch it from my skin.
I'm done I'm done I'm done
I bounce on a heel.
Clutch two fists tight.
The enemy has fled this stretch of back alley. I still can't manage my breaths but I can squeeze my hands until I can't feel them.
One leg over the top tube, push off.
Pedal 1-2--breathein--breatheout-3-4-5-breathe in-6-breatheout-7--breathein-- I lose count. I squeeze I squeeze I squeeze the handlebars and push the pedals down down down.