Monday, May 20, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The fever had come on as they left Knoxville, and by the time they rolled into his lane, he had full blown body aches, swollen glands, and a heart that was pumping as if he was still racing. He drove most of the way while she slept. Just beyond Asheville at 4:00 a.m. was when the hallucinations began--deer grazing in the middle of the road, realistic enough for him to ride the brakes until their false forms vanished. That was when he pulled over and gently shook her leg to wake her.
She stopped at a drug store for ibuprofen and Gatorade when they reached Durham. J.P. stayed in the back seat curled up in a fetal heap. He thanked her over and over in his delirium, sounding drunk or stoned.
“Shut up already and go to sleep,” she said after the sixth thank you.
“Shut up already and go to sleep,” she said after the sixth thank you.
But it wasn't just the fever talking. He was out of it yet aware enough to know what he meant and felt. For the first time since he could remember, someone was mothering him, saying things like, “Poor babe,” and, “We’ll be home soon,” and she was someone who bought him medicine, and someone who put the back of her hand to his forehead throughout the night. She drove over 1200 miles to chauffeur him back home, and he knew she didn't have to. He worried through the night how inconvenient he had been for her. After all, she’ long since told him her plans to transfer schools and that a friendship was the best they could hope for. But we do things for friends, true friends, do we not? …Unromantic things; things we might be reluctant to do even for a lover, or in this case, merely a sweetheart.
Later in the day she dropped in and found him showered and dressed. His fever had broken and his appetite was back, so she left and came back with chicken-n-noodle soup which he slurped cold right from the can. The summer heat was oppressive in his once mobile home. She didn't stay long but seemed also to have a hard time leaving him. In saying goodbye they started toward one another, but then stopped for fear of germs. After she left and he heard the car start, he heard her knock at the door.
“Look, why don’t you come home with me. You need to get out of this heat and we've got central air. Mom and I can look after you,” she said expecting no argument from him.
He nodded and took her hand as she led him to her car.
Two days later his strength was back and his Google ad-words were paying off. He quoted and immediately landed a painting job that would have him painting at thick coats of primer and then two coats of paint to cover an elementary school’s hallways that had been vandalized with graffiti during the summer break. He quoted it fairly, he thought, but he also ensured a healthy margin after paying for new supplies and a ladder. School started in less than three weeks and it was at least a two week job, so the facilities manager for the school corporation accepted J.P.’s bid on the spot. Training would have to either happen very early in the morning or later in the evening, especially for the first week. Because at this stage of the season, cash was king, especially given that he too would be soon heading into school. His fitness would just have to carry him through for a few more races; especially until the Fuquay-Varina race in two weeks.
Secretly, it was the race he had dreamed of winning. It was where he stumbled upon love at first sight with the sport just a year ago. He told no one of his ambition, fearing if he mentioned it, the karma of the thing would ooze out like a slow tire leak. No, he held it close to the vest. Only Dave and JiaMei knew it was the race he wanted to win more than any other race. If he won TDFV, he told himself he would be singularly satisfied with it, even if he never raced again. It wasn't a big race, but the idea of winning it seemed poetic. And what stirred within him was a deeper realization of what it could mean. For J.P., it had the potential to transcend poignancy and clever verse and the plain satisfaction of achievement. There was power in keeping quiet about wanting to win it. And even if he didn't which was more likely, the Tour de Fuquay-Varina had already become, and forever would be, a defining event--a marker along his life’s chronology.
He visualized himself in the race as he rolled the paint up and down the walls. He thought of powering through the straightaways, and when he rounded a corner of door trim with his brush, he saw himself railing through the turns and making a final dash to the line where he would raise his arms in a glorious blood rush of victory.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
Unless one is a professional rider the big European races or larger U.S. pro events, a flat tire in a road race means your day is pretty much over. Superweek has always had a long history of great racing and competitive fields. But as far as team support, there was none allowed since most of the racing format consisted of criteriums and circuits. And it was a points series rather than a timed event so there was no daily time limit or forfeiture for skipping a race. Neutral support provided by one of the Midwestern wheel manufacturers was as good as it got, which wasn’t bad. For Bob and Denise it meant there was less to pack for two weeks of racing. But for J.P., at that particular moment, it meant a slow wheel change from an elderly mechanic whose run from the car was about as fast as a Tim Conway shuffle. J.P. shifted the chain into the 39x11 and had quickly slipped the rear wheel out of the frame. The new wheel didn’t go in so easily. The mechanic fumbled with the skewer and chain. It took so long that J.P.’s heart rate recovered to a modest 98 bpm according to his monitor. The senior mechanic cursed himself as he fumbled with the chain, and J.P. was beginning to understand why so many racers referred to Superweek as Stupidweek. It was as if a cloud of Alzheimer’s came over the old man in the heat of the moment, creating a new reality: one where Tullio Campagnolo had accepted mechanical mediocrity and never went back to his workshop to invent the quick-release hub.
Finally the skewer was closed and J.P. ran with the bike and hopped on the saddle and found the pedals. Click, click he was in. He shifted to a more proper gear and began sprinting. A minute later the support car sped around him and he thought, at least they could have given me a tow up to the race after such a pathetic wheel change. But the car’s exhaust was all he got. He was alone and knew he would not see the peloton again for the remainder of the race. Then the idea came as he started to let off the pedals and coast. He stopped to the side of the road and lowered his bibs and pee’d. He looked around and noticed his surroundings, and as he gathered himself back into his shorts he found cover at his ten o’clock. He questioned it at first, knowing it wasn’t right. But he’d already burned through his modest food allowance for the week, and his homesick heart caused him to kneel down, and then sit down and wait until the caravan came around again. As he sat in the mist and tall grass behind the Willow bush, he thought about the cheat he had just become. “ CHEATERS NEVER WIN” the grade school mantra written to all our hard drives, rang in his ears. It’s a phrase we all take for granted, until we’re faced with a difficult decision in sport and life. But winning was no longer his motivation. It was again survival. His animal instincts wrestled with his smaller sense of ethics until the clawing and gnashing trumped all reason, leaving him justified for hiding in the bushes.
Stiff muscles and some forty minutes later, J.P. heard the breakaway group coming. He sat up and picked up his bike and leaned over it with his head down but his eyes up, watching and waiting for the official’s car to pass. Then the rest of the caravan of riders whizzed by, followed by the official on a motorcross bike and then lastly, the red support car. J.P. ran with his bike across the ditch as if it was cyclo-cross season and hopped on. He pedaled like a banshee for the next four miles and caught the back end of the group before the town sign of Egg Harbor.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
It was a halcyon day for racing. The blue water horizon to the east appeared almost as a continuation of the sky, which could’ve been likened to Team Blue’s aspirations for the day and the races to follow. However, hopes and aspirations rarely work out the way we imagine. Rarely are we afforded such providence or luck.
J.P. rode hard covering early attacks and found himself in a breakaway of eight that had gained two and a half minutes on the rest of the field halfway through the race. He was a major factor in the break staying out as long as it did. Two of the breakaway riders dangled at the back, either playing opportunists, or finding themselves out classed. With five laps to go one of the two dropped on the lighthouse climb and the other dropped the second time up as the rest of the pack drew within thirty seconds. The catch was inevitable. Bob was on the side of the hill not sure if he should tell J.P. to keep riding or to drop back and recover so he could help Witcher get in position for the sprint. But on the second to last lap, the breakaway of six had stretched their gap to forty-five seconds, with J.P. again at the front on the climb, charging like a desperate confederate up Cemetery Hill, and knowing that an inevitable barrage of riders would pick him and his breakaway partners off at any moment. With one to go, a fast moving line of four riders from the visiting Australian squad flanked them on the home straight and the break dissipated like a hopeless storm cloud against overwhelming forces of high pressure. Bob knew, as the team came to the final accent, that their race was over. J.P. rode valiantly but the opening day of Superweek for the rest of the team proved harder and faster than anticipated and thus over with most of the squad at the back, wishing the race had ended ten laps earlier. Even Witcher was gassed as there were just too many trips up the hill for his big frame. J.P. dangled at the back of the group as the peloton made the final run-in to the finish. One of the Australian sprinters took the win, his first of a what would be a few over the two week Midwestern cycling classic.
Their host “family”, Richard, was especially nice, overtly effeminate, and accommodating with J.P. and Atlas. Demetrius, the small climber from North Carolina, who J.P. had raced with the previous season in Chattanooga, also arrived that evening having missed the first day of racing. There was plenty of space on the floor--a crimson shag carpet in a sunken living room. Atlas said all it was missing was a disco ball. Richard had blown up two large air mattresses, one of which J.P. and Atlas again shared.
“Nighty night fellas,” said Richard with a longing look before he retired to his room.
The next day was more punishment in Sheboygan. Witcher managed a seventh place on his own. Day three was the Tour of Holy Hill and would be a day for Atlas given the terrain and the length of the race. But the small grimpeur would remain stuck in the second chase group and would finish fifteenth on the day.
Day four was racing in Racine where the four corner criterium with a sketchy parcours would deliver two flats for Bolton, a crash for Fuzzy, a pack finish for J.P., and a field sprint win for Witcher to take fifth place.
An evening criterium in Evanston, Illinois would find a bandaged Fuzzy in the almost winning breakaway that was caught with one lap to go and would show the partying crowd a sprint showdown between “The Bitch” and the fast finishing Aussie who was leading the points standings. Witcher was second by a strung-out bike throw and the width of a tire, all of which was encapsulated by the announcers bellowing “OH MY” and the crowd’s astonishment with the speed and intensity of the finalé. Bob was well pleased and relieved. His risky signing of Jim was starting to pay off in podium time and press.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
As he approached where the finish would be he asked himself, “Could I really win it?” But why doubt, he thought. Just believe. He remembered JiaMei saying as much as they talked about his future, though at the time he’d hoped she was referring to their future. Belief was natural for him in spite of what most people would think if they were to examine his life. A classic psychologist would not be the least surprised to find him doubting everything and everyone, jaded and angry. But he wore none of that. He’d been endowed with puppy-like faith--a pleasant enigma indeed for this world, reserved only for the very young and mentally disabled. If he thought much about it, he’d reason believing was simply a more enjoyable way to go through life. But he didn't think about it. He just was.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Darkening clouds covered the sun, thunder rolled, and fat drops of rain began thumping the hood of the car at an ever quickening rate. Words became obsolete, leaving only wanting looks through pseudo silence. And like the cloudburst overhead they too swelled and rolled into one another, creating their own fury of high and low pressure, positive and negative ions; their lips, arms, and fingers latching under fogged windows until the storm passed.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
At breakfast, she asked him about camp. He told her all about it--of his bonk, his despair after that first day, what they ate, Denise and her massages, Bob and his insistence on using maps instead of GPS and how they had ridden at night because he had miscalculated the distances. He told her about the three legged dog that chased them, the hard tempos, and all of the climbing, and how wrecked his legs still were. He told her about the epic hail storm and the shack and about the providential-like ride back to the cabin with truckers for guardian angels.
They sat in a booth and duct tape stuck to the back of his hairless legs. He thought himself the gentleman by taking the torn seat patched with tape. But JiaMei didn't dare take it, because it was where her father always sat when they came to Sheila’s.
For J.P., breakfast was pancakes stacked four high with bacon and eggs, grits with honey, washed down with a tall glass of water. He wanted orange juice but couldn't bring himself to buy it …so expensive for such a small glass. JiaMei ordered a big salad as she changed her mind about breakfast and it was past noon. She acted jumpy, indecisive. Maybe she’s got PMS, he thought. Nonetheless, he was happy to be with her and happy knowing food was on the way. He couldn't stop looking at her face, her eyes especially. She looked back into his cote d’ azure eyes and then looked away abruptly to keep from falling under his spell. She had news to deliver, exciting news, and a major life change for her certainly. But she feared it would not be easy for him to digest nor easy for her to deliver.
She put down her fork and wiped the corners of her mouth and said, “J.P., I need to tell you something,”
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Balls of ice melting and fusing together covered the ground and road. Thunder rolled in the distance off to the south and steam sifted up from the road and hung low like a dry ice fog. Ozone, soil, and earthworms caught their noses and blanketed the mountain like a salve. Ice crunched under their cleats as they walked their bicycles out of the open side of the shanty and back onto the road. Their banter about ice and slippery roads, mixed with expletives to try to describe the awesome forces of nature, echoed off the canyon walls until finally the road was clear enough for them to coast down the mountain. They centered their bodies on their bikes for safe traction around sharp turns. The air was cold and heavy, but when they reached the bottom the sun came back and began to dry the road and the muddy spray on their legs--a brownish red, the same color as the washed out earth bleeding over the road.
With the delay of the storm and their waiting on the ice to melt, dusk had fallen early on the Ozarks, or so it seemed. The riders, led by Berto, unanimously agreed without words to form a steady, single paceline and to ride a brisk, yet controlled tempo. It would be safer and quicker in getting home.
Once they rolled into Mountain Home they found their right turn onto the only east-west road out of town. There were eight long miles to ride from there back to the cabins, and what they thought was dusk changed without pause into a complete darkness and the moon new. It made the black road darker, unsafe, and nerve-racking. The people of the Ozarks hadn’t had much experience with grown men in stretchy shorts and flashy jerseys, but they always waved when passing in either direction. And on nights like that, when a team director yet again miscalculates map distances and ride times, or when riders are caught in a hail storm as evocative as a Grecian epic, God himself protects even fools returning home without a lamp to light their way.
Semi-trailer trucks patiently convoyed behind the line of riders, their high beams illuminating the pavement, only dimming for oncoming traffic. The team later talked at length about it--the generosity and the unexpected patience of those road warriors of a different pedigree.
Friday, December 7, 2012
Gunner Pool was a faux flat in the downward sense. Then, after turning right onto McGowan, the road began to gradually ascend until they had to shift to the small ring and do the steady work of climbing in the saddle. Dark clouds were moving upward from the back side of the mountain like a child’s creeping hand over a cookie jar. They watched it gather while they plowed ahead, and within minutes the ominous mass usurped the pleasant mix of spring sun and partly cumulonimbus. The road made a dogleg bend which lead them over the cone of Hixon Mountain. That's where the temperature dropped and all moisture, dust, and gas was pulled up by the massive cloud, as if it was loading ammunition for a flanking assault on the mountain and the riders below.
“Holy… Do you feel that?” said Bolton.
J.P. was riding next to him. He didn't reply. He smiled, as if to say there wasn't anything to do but ride through. He looked up at the sky and reached back and pulled out his vest. The temperature dropped a full twenty degrees within the last mile of the two and a half miles of steady vertical. The road cut through two walls of towering rock that contained large chunks of quartzite. It was like a mysterious grand entrance into the realm of a dark, Ozarkan mountain king. The cloud’s breath came down off the right side and took the path of least resistance through the channel of rock buffering the riders and slowing them to a walking pace. Once through the rock they could see the road steepen--a hint of the end. The wind hesitated and then gusted again. And without notice the sky rained down a fierce, suppressive fire of hail. Half a golf ball in size, maybe a quarter-size; not large but the barrage was fast and dense. They immediately appreciated their helmets as their arms, legs and hands were pelted by thousands of balls that thumped and stung. They rode like cats through rain until off to their right they saw a shanty of a shack almost hidden by honeysuckle overgrowth. They rode over the ice and up the weed covered lane and carried their bikes over the rotted porch, crossing to safety under a rusty tin roof. Berto yelled something to Bob. Bob yelled, “WHAT?” but no sounds could be heard over the violent rattle of ice rocks on metal, which sounded like a thousand machine guns at close range. And then as if the Mountain King reached into the cloud and turned off the spigot, the barrage stopped, and they looked at one another with wide eyes, ringing ears, and clouds of breath.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
After three miles of up with short dips down, they crested the top and saw the sun for tucking itself into bed behind the hills. The rest of the way was a winding descent turning into a long straight dive into the heart of the quaint Ozark town of Yellville. It was a steady 40 to 45 mph all the way down. Atlas was in a tight forward tuck for much of it—almost over the bars and practically sitting on his stem with his butt up high. It was the style of descending on which Phil Liggett would nervously commentate something along the lines of, “I say Paul, he might want to take caution on these tricky descents with that style. One wrong move or spot of petrol could take out the whole of the peloton.”
J.P. was less sure of his descending skills so he stayed back in a less radical aero position. Half way down the rest of the group came roaring past led by Andy. They were doing over fifty mph, pedaling in their 11’s at full bore. By the time they reached the bottom, Yellville was dark. Cars had their lights on and it was obviously too dark and too dangerous to ride the forty plus miles back to the cabin. Bob with his old school maps and no GPS, had seriously under estimated the distance and they already had just shy of 120 miles when they stopped at the gas mart in town.
“Guys, I think I messed up on the distance a bit,” said Bob as they stood inside and draped themselves over the hard laminate booths.
“Ya think?” said Berto.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
|"To eat is necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."|
--Francois de la Rochefocauld
Fuzzy said, “Stop.”
Berto said, “Here, eat this.”
J.P. shook with goose pimples. What am I doing here? I upgraded too quickly. I’m in over my head, he thought.
“Hey man, don’t worry about it,” said Fuzzy. “You’re doing fine. We only have about 5k to go until we’re back at the cabin. Denise has a big plate of spaghetti waiting and you’ll be at the front of the line for a massage tonight.”
Bob had coaxed his fiancée, Denise, into being the camp soignier. Bob was Bob Hammond, the director and a former pro.
“Let’s go J.P. You can make it,” said Berto.
“Just think of all of those groceries we bought on the trip over here. Think of spaghetti and meat balls on the stove, and marinara sauce,” said Fuzzy. “Smell the sauce J.P. Be, be the sauce. See, see your future massage,” he joked doing his own rendition of Caddy Shack’s Ty Webb.
“Shut up already about the food,” said Berto. “Come on kid. You good?”
“Yeah, I can make it. I’m real sorry guys. I don’t know what happened. I’ve been riding lots,” J.P. tried to explain.
“Dude, don’t worry about it. We’ve all been through it,” said Berto. “You’ve got to learn to eat and drink more on these long rides,” he said like a veteran soldier to a plebe. “What are you doing with all this chow left? This muffin, two bars, and half a bottle?” he said accusingly as he rifled through J.P.’s jersey pockets. “You should be sipping on something every fifteen minutes and doing a gel or something more solid at least every forty-five to an hour.”
J.P. looked up the climb with a mouthful of muffin. He nodded and clicked in and began to pedal. He shifted to his 39 x 25 just to get going again. He could feel his life force returning as he turned his legs at a snail’s pace up the long ascent from the causeway. The coolness and smell of dormant lake water mixed with the wild onions growing along the roadside sang resurrection praises to his senses and his psyche. He felt Berto’s put his hand on the small of his back to give him a push now and again until they rejoined the rest of the group.
Friday, November 2, 2012
The multicolored group of riders crested the hill and then rolled effortlessly atop the long winding ridge covered cloud and fog. And then like passengers in an invisible jetliner they plunged through the puff and onward to the other side.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
To The Dean of Admissions:
My name is John Paul and I am likely not your typical applicant. Many would think my path to Duke University would be a foregone conclusion as I am from Durham and have a parent, my father, on the faculty. However, I have never considered Duke, or any formal secondary education. That is, until recently.
You mention in your message to applicants that you like to see “some bumps.” Although I have never considered my life to be any more or less bumpy than anyone else’s, most people would say that it has been a more difficult path. I am mostly self-educated. My early years of schooling ended at the end of my sixth grade year at Peach Stone Montessori. The state would call it truancy, but I prefer to think of it as simply a road less traveled by. Through these years I have developed a love for literature, ideas, diversity of thought, history, architecture and art. I have found this university-anchored city to be a trove of learning opportunity, whether it be conventional, or in my case up to present time, un-conventional. My own library and learning has been built with treasured gems containing classical literature, how-to books, biographies, and histories found at various discount book sellers.
Yes, I could continue as I am. I could continue to learn on my own and not enroll at Duke or anywhere else for that matter, and I would be perfectly content with life. However, I am at a point in my development where I feel that the opportunity for one of life’s greatest experiences lies with the acceptance of this application. I sincerely desire the opportunity to enjoy stimulating discussions and thoughts shared amongst peers and professors—-such a life that is so germane to a university setting. I wish to see and know more of this world and understand it, and I believe the foundation for this can be found at Duke.
I am also involved in competitive cycling at the elite level of the sport. I have advanced with the help of wonderful friends and excellent coaches. And, I would also hope to utilize my athletic abilities by riding for the Duke University Cycling Team and compete at Collegiate Nationals.
I have been self-employed as a house painter since I was old enough to hold a brush and climb a ladder. I enjoy it. It is easy work and it gives me time to think and ponder the things I learn and to reflect on the valuable relationships in my life. It gives me quiet time to think about life’s meaning, its beauty, and what lies ahead.
You will find with my application a copy of my GED which I recently obtained. You will also notice my recent SAT score of 2300. I self-prepared for the exam with no frame of reference for how I would perform. I am very pleased with my score, and I believe I could transfer this demonstrated, though latent academic ability, to an undergraduate degree of my choosing at Duke University. I so do look forward to what lies ahead, whatever it may be.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
“Who invited the triathlete?” asked Dave.
“Don’t know. I think one of the N.C. State kids,” said Ferris. “I’ll tell you what… if he doesn’t start riding straight he’s going to get his aero bars shoved up his ass.”
Thursday, October 18, 2012
“You know, I’m crazy about you, right?”
“Yes, I think I know,” she said.
“You’re the first person… Well, I’ve never felt like this, this way before,” he said tripping and skipping over his words like overinflated bicycle tires over cobble stones.
He kept looking at her. His arm somehow snuck itself around her and as he moved closer the laptop fell to the floor.
“Wait,” she said putting her hand on his lips and then caressing his warm, stubbly face. The perspiration on her brow and upper lip had cooled to clammy. Her hand reached around to the back of his damp neck and pulled him in, bringing his lips to bear, and pulling his body partly on top of hers. A slow oral exploration began. Their heat and sweat made it seem like a sauna. His hands set out on their own expedition, moving up her thigh, her torso, and to the top of her blouse. Her breathing shortened. His hand moved back down and began to tunnel inside her shirt, but her hand met his and stopped him just short of second base. He tried a different route, kissing her neck and her ear while his hand advanced again inside the team t-shirt. But she pulled his hand out and the kissing stopped, and they sat up looking at each other, both sweaty and short of breath. She held his shoulders in her hands keeping him at arms’ length.
“Look, I’m sorry,” she said.
“No, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” he replied and looked up hoping that she had already changed her mind.
“No, it’s me. Look, I want you to. It’s just that I can’t. I won’t.”
They sat in silence looking at each other for a minute. “You mean, you don’t want to go any further,” he conjectured.
“No, I want to. I want to go to the moon and back. Believe me, J.P. I want to. It’s just that I won’t. I promised myself--I promised that I wouldn’t until I was married someday. Look, it’s important. It’s important to me that I save that part of myself for my husband. It just is. It’s just who I am, what I believe. It’s the right way to do it. Look, I don’t expect you to understand. I know it’s not the popular way… or what either of us thinks we want right now, but it’s the right thing.” She sighed, “I don’t know if I’m making any sense.”
“No, you know, you don’t have to explain. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. …Though I’ve gotta say that whoever you marry someday… well, he’s going to be one helluva lucky guy. …I’m already jealous.”
Friday, October 12, 2012
Candles gave off a soft glow around the bus. An old lamp without a shade was unplugged and held no light bulb but instead it too held a lit candle. JiaMei was fascinated by it as she looked around at his things. The base of the lamp was a blue motif of Lakshmi sitting cross legged on a pink lotus blossom. J.P. explained that she was the Indian goddess of good fortune and wealth. J.P.’s futon mattress, which was normally on the floor, was leaning against the wall. He had no frame for it.
“I know it’s hot in here. I’ll open the door,” he said. The fire in the wood burning cook stove burned hot and made the walls of the bus like wires in a toaster oven. Sweat beaded on his forehead. And JiaMei, wearing a winter sweater, thought she might suffocate before the evening’s end.
“Do you mind if I take off my sweater?” she asked.
“No, go right ahead. I’m sorry it’s so hot in here. I got the fire a little too big. I was worried about it being cold cause it gets really drafty in here. You know, it’s a bus,” he said plainly as he walked to the front and pushed open the front door.
When he turned around, JiaMei was pulling her turtleneck sweater over her head. Her torso was elongated, her modest breasts cupped and lifted under her blouse as the sweater rolled up. J.P. stood watching as she struggled to get it over her head. She emerged through the bottom with static strands of hair raised on invisible wires, as if Nicola Tesla’s ghost was hovering above her. She laughed. J.P. smiled, still staring, though his eyes were not focused on her hair.
“What are you looking at?” she said while laughing.
“Oh nothing,” he said thinking that she had caught him staring at her chest. His response was awkwardly late and they both knew it.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
J.P. had the whole of his new team kit laid out on the floor in grouped piles. He walked around it all, taking pictures of the bounty with his phone. There were new carbon race wheels, tires and tubes, three jerseys, one long sleeve jersey, three pairs of bibs, one thermal jacket, one rain jacket, one wind vest, one skin suit, one pair of arm warmers, a pair of knee warmers, shoe covers, gloves, a t-shirt with the team logo, three boxes of gels, and a retro truckers cap with Team Blue embroidered on it. He texted the pictures to Dave’s and JiaMei’s phones with the subject being, “Santa arrived early.” He had been upgraded to Category 2 from Category 5 the previous week after an area elite team had petitioned the district USAC representative. A few of the veteran members of the team and the district representative had seen J.P. race both in Wilmington and in Tennessee.