(I’m curious if anyone is reading this story that I started here a while ago. Show me some love and drop a comment.)
It was right at the top that he passed the man in tight shiny clothes, on the razor thin bike out there in the dark. As Kiko ran up on him on his dual suspension bike with a 24 inch wire basket in front and rack over the rear wheel he saw a campesino with a burro pretending to like to pick coffee on the rider’s back: “Café de Colombia” was written below the caricature of rural labor. The rider’s breathing made the healthy smiling beanpicker expand and contract like someone eager to get out of something. The drawing looked like one man plucked out of a manifestación, silently shouting for something better. The Burro reminded him of the shopping cart of the bottle collector.
He rested as he pedaled the half mile down to Manhattan, thinking about how soon he had to be downtown. Before dawn the streets were less crowded, he didn’t have to ride between cars worry whether his big wide basket would clip the cars. The drivers were always worried about scratches, but Kiko knew from hard experience, that if the basket touched the cars he would likely crash. More than an inch of contact, and it was sure, a fall at whatever speed he was going. If it was less than an inch he might be able to muscle the handlebars straight and, bending the basket’s corners (and scraping quite a bit of paint with that awful sound), stay on top of his wheels.
He had learned one afternoon in January on Vesey Street, with soup for a mail-room clerk, that slowing down also made it more likely that he’d fall. As the bike came around a FEDEX truck a cab had squeezed him, but since it all came together so quickly he hadn’t had time to brake. He pedaled harder rather than trying to slow down and letting the basket bend, scratching a line in the purple and orange logo as he kept pace with the cab. Instead of falling, as the “life flashes before your eyes” vision told him he would, he used the cab’s reckless momentum to spring him forward past the double parked truck. But at night these were not his problems.