It’s easy to justify driving your car when you’re going to Costco to pick up a shipping container’s-worth of food and paper products. But I was just going to buy a little camera and decided to take my bicycle. I used to ride it daily, but it’s been moldering in the basement for a while. At the last minute Dave surprised me by offering to join me.

Huh! Back in the ’80s he found a bike at Goodwill for $15 and bought it on a whim. It was a classic, and identical to the bike he rode in college: a bright orange Schwinn Varsity. The sucker weighs in at a smooth two hundred pounds if you take the saddle off, although that makes it marginally less comfortable, and you do need a strong dwarf with a wrench to take off the wheels. 
He rode it straight downtown to surprise me at work, and we rode home together, uphill, and then he stashed it in a dark corner of the basement. Fifteen years later he peeled a felt of dust off it and joined me on a half-day trip, after which it was dispatched to an even darker corner of the basement. The geyser of inspiration for Dave to ride a bike has a fifteen-year periodicity, and I guess he was due again. So we hauled out our bikes, pumped up the tires, blew up one of them with a boom that dropped war vets for a mile around, and eventually spanked them into working condition.

Our route took us along the Columbia River on a dedicated bike path. It was swell! It was grand! The temperature was mild, ospreys wheeled in the sky, herons struck picturesque poses along the shoreline, wishes were lavishly granted. I marveled once again at what a wonderful invention was the bicycle: with almost no effort at all, we were gliding along at a nice clip, with Mt. Hood smiling in the blue in front of us. We were strong! We were sailing! There was no limit to our powers! We rolled smugly through the acres of SUVs at the Costco parking lot and found, to our amazement, a bike rack right out front. It didn’t have a scratch on it. I bought my camera and we headed home.

Within a few blocks we were back on Marine Drive and nothing was right. We ran into something a lot like Shinola. We were pressing miserably into the wind, pedaling hard just to stay ahead of our own dark impulses. Here’s the thing. When the wind is at your back, you don’t even notice it. You think you have superpowers. But a headwind is debilitating. You’ll brave the rain; you understand the rain. You’re fine with pushing up a mountain; you understand a mountain. You expect to work harder when you’ve loaded up your saddlebags with heavy things. But you can’t see a headwind. You can only feel it, and it feels pervasive, and wrong, and deeply unfair.

Still you battle on, with salt in your eyes, inching closer to home. But you can dream. You can imagine flipping it around just one more time, just to feel those righteous sails billow, to be mighty and invincible again. All we need is one U-turn, and we’re suddenly awesome, we’re right back in charge. Just two white kids flying into the future we so deserve.