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August 16th, 2007

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Charlie-

Legend has it, friend, that there’s a biker in New York City who is perfection. Pure essence of bikerdom. Of course I thought it was all hocus-pocus. I mean, most people have never even seen him and those who claim they have tell tales of vague, quick encounters, usually at a great distance – most of these people contradicting each other. Some say he rides a mountain bike, others say road. Some say he has no reflectors and wears only black, riding in the night. Others say he has a hyperwattage xenon halogen hybrid helmet light that he uses to blind cars who offend the share the road mantra and to help lost bikers find their way in the shifty manhattan night.

Well, Charlie, I write this in full confidence and with no hint of exaggeration. This is a true and honest account.

I saw him today. He was riding ahead of me coming over the Manhattan Bridge. I only caught sight of him once we were on the downhill. He rode sitting up perfectly straight. No hands, Charlie. No hands. He drank casually from a water bottle, gliding down the path as if floating just a millimeter above the concrete. Once we were off the bridge he maintained his distance from me. When we hit a back up of cars he headed in-between the lanes, cutting his line so elegantly I almost cried. I had to see him up close. I had to. I couldn’t be another one of these loonies with a half-baked sighting. I too cut between the cars, picking up pace which was only possible by following his lead, relying on his razor sharp instinct.

After a few blocks he hit a red and I caught up. I made no qualms about staring. Firstly, he rides a bike labeled PATRIA. I searched for the brand on the Internet and have found nothing except that patria derives from the Greek for father. The frame looked like a road frame, but his tires were strictly utility. Beefy. A fender in the front only. Two saddlebags on the back tire, each equipped with a red light. Two simple white lights: one on his grey helmet, the other acting as a maidenhead and the front of the frame. He wore a wife beater that was either soaked with sweat or so superthin that it was translucent, and – and this is something that stood out to me – he wore plain blue shorts with a horizontally striped belt: blue, green, yellow. Underneath the shorts were, as to be expected, biker shorts. He also wore some sort of tribal necklace, at the bottom of which I think was a skull carved out of ivory. To be honest, I was still skeptical. I mean, was this him? I felt that it was him, but how could I be sure. Well, I knew when I saw what was in his bottle holder. Get this, Charlie, orange flavored seltzer. Seeing that filled me with a swell of assurance and I slowly moved my gaze to his face. Our eyes met just as the light changed green. He looked directly inside of me and rode away east on Delancy. I was motionless, straddling my bike, as the cars began to pass me on both sides. Once the moment passed I felt purged, clear. The air tasted better. Honestly. This is the truth.                     (cont’d)
-Ben

post scriptum: I sent you a letter recently that I got return to sender. I sent it back, hopefully you’ll get it soon.

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