I am new to the world of cycling.
In fact, I have only been on my bike a couple of times.
But, it seems that most of the musician men friends I know, are all about riding bicycles these days: R. Scott, Darryl Mitchell, Mike Martt, Johnny Minguez, Steve Houston and Warren Renfrow, all former or current members of well-know bands, participate in cycling and though I haven’t seen them all in action yet… I have noted an alarming number of them wearing tight little spandex pants and helmets with strange points on the back.
Now, these are not men who look like the men from the Tour de France… who look like they should be wearing spandex swag… these are big burly tattooed men… blue collared Blutos… rough and tough … and to see them sporting their delicate little panties and day-glow race helmets is frankly… a bit disconcerting.
But having grown up with brothers and raised in a houseful of an endless parade of boys during the 1970’s… where I longed to be the girl version of Evil Knievel… in on all of their ramp jumping fiascos… I find myself drawn to ride with them… ride fast….. and really… if I’m truly to be honest… kick their fucking asses all over the bike trail.
It’s a competitive thing… a feminist thing… but I honestly never planned to get the Seal Beach Police Department involved in my Battle of the Sexes “vendetta.”
It was early Sunday morning when I met up on the bike path with Warren Renfrow and almost fell off my 10-speed with joy once I realized that I might actually have a friend to ride with; Stephen my man, unwilling to delve into the world of hot spandex… more comfortable on his Schwinn cruiser then a Bianchi 10-speed… and always looking for a chance to work on his 64 convertible Valiant, unfettered by my constant interruptions.
Warren had been riding for awhile and since it was my first time out, I was a bit trepidatious about the thinness of the tire… the downward position of the bars… the speed which I hit each downhill drop… as I followed behind him from El Dorado Park past the Power Plants. But by the time I was nearing Seal Beach, I was out in front, moving at a good solid pace and ready to ride farther.
Now, maybe he was just being nice and cutting me some slack… but I don’t think so: I was really getting the hang of it.
By the time we hit the beginning of Bolsa Chica I was hooked.
I was about to ride on when Warren shouted out, “D.D. come back!”
I pressed my hand breaks and turned around.
“What?” I said all sassy.
“You still have to ride home,” he said. “This was a good first trek for you but, I don’t think you should push it.”
He’s lucky he didn’t lose an eye saying that to me.
I’m sure he was just being a good riding partner… concerned that I would be able to make the trip home… but all I heard in my demented mind was:
You’re a girl.
You can’t ride that far.
You weak-ass idiot.
You better go home now and leave the long ride to the big boys.
“Fine,” I said and took off at a fast pace as I cut back through the Sunset Beach housing.
Warren could have given a shit.
He lumbered about… totally ignoring me as he drank off of his stupid plastic sippy cup bottle that all of those bike guys have.
I stormed ahead: my chucks pushing hard on the pedals…. my Ramones shirt blowing in the breeze…. my big bun of hair bobbing up and down blissfully helmet free: I felt like a rebel.
He caught up to me at the red light off of Anderson, right next to Turc’s, and he was still in a nice glide when the light turned green. He gave me a smug nod and took off like a bat out of hell.
I was FURIOUS.
I started back from a total stop, downshifted and raced to catch up to him.
By the time I hit the first hill’s rise on PCH… in the Naval Weapons Station Wetlands… I had him.
I was beyond stoked.
I was gonna make him pay.
I couldn’t wait to be the rookie that pushed past the “Big Man” and road him into the ground.
And this is when I made the worst rookie move I could have ever made.
If there had been a video feed of this moment… cyclists everywhere would have thrown their arms up in exasperation, slapped their foreheads stunned and dismayed, and then turned to laugh at me with all of their little cycling friends.
I thought that the best way to conquer the hill was to shift into high gear and hit the pedals hard but my momentum slowed to almost a dead stop and by the time I adjusted my gears and looked up again, Warren was at the top of the second hill, drinking out of his stupid ass little sissy cup again, legs splayed wide, riding as if he was an old man on a Sunday joy ride through the park, casually enjoying the wetlands, his demeanor.. pleased with the fact that he left me, the idiot, behind, without a second thought.
I was sure at that moment… that my head was actually going to explode.
I leaned forward, clenched my teeth and started barreling up the second hill.
Warren was almost across Seal Beach Boulevard when I came flying down towards him at an impressive pace.
I broke into a wide grin.
I saw him stop on the other side of Seal and wait at the curb for me.
Fuck that shit, I whispered to myself, You’re going down Mr. Crane Operator Man.
I pedaled harder.
I pedaled faster.
I didn’t give a shit that I had the red light.
I didn’t care that cars were driving through the intersection in front of me.
I would die beating Warren Renfrow’s ass.
I held fast to my grips, leaned forward aggressively and steeled myself to run the intersection.
I watched as Warren’s eyes suddenly grew large.
I ignored him as I zig-zagged between moving cars and stopped pedaling as if I had just won a lengthy race, knowing that my advanced momentum would carry me through the finish line, in front of him, and that’s… when I saw the cop: About half way down Seal Beach Boulevard, moving at a good clip between the police station and PCH.
I couldn’t see his eyes through the windshield, but I heard the cruiser accelerate and knew someone inside was ready to give a big ticket and hungry for a chase.
I hit the pedals hard again, and blew past Warren like a rocket.
I was off PCH and turning down the alley behind 17th Street to hide in the neighborhood when I heard Warren yell, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”
And then the police car skidded around the corner after me.
I was almost out of view from the main drag when I saw the cop race down Seventeenth hoping to catch me coming out the other side.
I hit the breaks, flipped the handle bars to the right and stopped in a hard skid.
A quick backpedal and I was back racing towards Warren at top speed.
“GO!” I shouted as I rushed past him. “GO!” I screamed as I blasted on by and rode hard towards 12th Street where I turned right into the neighborhood behind the Pavilions and followed, my head low, hidden behind the concrete wall, until I cut through the back parking lot of the Chase bank on Bolsa and pedaled the last one hundred yards of PCH to the bike path at a furious pace, only allowing my legs to slow as I cut the gate by the stone remains of the legendary Marina Palace and caught my breath; chubby tired and worn as I coasted down the bike trail towards home.
Warren raced up behind me.
“Jesus!” He shouted. “Sonny warned me about you. You fucking Grishams are crazy!”
I pictured Big Sonny’s face, our mutual friend, his dark glasses, greaser vato, long bushy gray goatee, shaking his head in disgust as he said to Warren, “Just remember one thing bro… she’s a Grisham” and my face flushed.
I could just imagine him cackling, crowing actually, about being right.
I road on in silence… part of me… glad to keep our family reputation for insanity alive… part of me sad that I probably would never be riding bikes with Warren Renfrow again.
We made it home, and Warren took a moment to stop and talk with my man about cars, and music, and whatever else.
I straddled my bike from a distance, an outsider, just an ear shot away from their conversation, when I heard something about me and the cops.
“I heard that!” I shouted.
They both turned and looked at me.
“Obviously you didn’t,” Stephen laughed, Warren joining him.
So I climbed on my bike, made my best pouty face and rode off, leaving the two of them deep in conversation, most likely about what a total jackass I was.
The next day, I decided I better call Sonny and come clean about my antics before Warren got a chance to tell him.
“I told him you were fucking crazy!” Sonny said. “All you mother fucking Grishams are!”
I felt deflated… ready to give in and concede defeat when Sonny added, “Hey… hey….”
“Yeah,” I said quietly.
“I’m really proud of you. I like that you still know how to get away from the fucking cops.”
And then he hung up.
But I didn’t mind.
In Sonny’s eyes I was still the winner of the race that day.
And that… was enough… for me.