Saturday, April 12, 2008

At the light - from 1995 or thereabouts

At The Light

My buddy Phil lives in Hollywood, rides bicycles and motorcycles and has for years. Phil traveled to Montreal to watch Eddy Merckx win the World's in 1976. He lived in Marin back then, riding an old Colnago while his buddies Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher, woolly roadies both, began cobbling together fat-tire bicycles to rocket down Mount Tam trails.

Though he's long since paid his cycling dues, Phil keeps his membership current. He sprung for a CyclArt restoration of his beloved old Raleigh Professional and just bought a newish Cinelli track bike. Not one of his several bikes hangs like an ornament over the fireplace; he rides 'em all.

Recently, Phil says, he was pedaling his fixed-gear bike down some L.A. avenue, traffic light to traffic light, when he noticed a guy on a motorcycle stopped next to him waiting for the green. The guy was riding an older BMW very much like the one in Phil's own garage.

Nice bike, he said to the guy as they waited, I've got one pretty much like it. Mine's got Brand X carburetors, though; I see you have the Brand Ys. Do they work OK?

They reached the next red light together, the next and the next. At each light they chatted about their old BMWs, about twin-plug heads and seat cowls and stuff only Beemer nuts care much about.

At the fourth light, the guy on the motorcycle suggested they pull off the road into a parking area and chat further. Phil said that sounded great. They talked about their motorcycles. The BMW guy said he rode bicycles too so they talked about them.

Eventually Phil asked him what he did, and the guy turned out to be Production Executive for Shukovsky English Entertainment, the TV production company that makes Murphy Brown and Love & War. They were about to begin work on Double Rush, the guy said, an upcoming sitcom series about N.Y. bicycle messengers.

Phil says, hey, I'm a sound mixer myself; if you ever need someone, call me, and he hands the guy a card. I always carry cards, Phil tells me. They wave goodbye. Take care. You too.

Four weeks later the phone rings. Two more days, Phil is working for Shukovsky English on the first Double Rush episode. Phil says it's the best working environment he's ever experienced. Terrific people. And a neat show, he told me.

Chances are, Double Rush will run 13 episodes and Phil will work the sound on all of them. He may even help with other Shukovsky English productions, all of which prospects have put a mile-wide grin on my man Phil's face.

Now Phil's a good guy, easy to meet and easy to talk to, and he brought years of sound experience to that chance meeting, but those qualifications did not make this thing happen.

Phil knows he doesn't ride in a vacuum. Like all of us, he rides in a real world, chock full of good stuff and bad stuff, stuff that may have little or nothing to do with his ride. He watches what's going on and waves at the occasional courteous motorist, other cyclists and presumably motorcyclists.

He's out there, he's in the picture. He's not a car driver, anonymous and isolated in a glass and steel box.

I'm not claiming he climbs off mid-ride and wanders in roadside meadows to get close to nature, or attempts to engage each passing motorist in conversation. I'm not suggesting he takes any opportunity he can to quit pedaling and chat.

Phil realizes a ride is a ride, not a mission, not a race, not an end in itself. Like most of us, he can be confident that he will not be competing at Atlanta in '96, on road or velodrome, and that is, I'm guessing, pretty much OK with him.

Phil does not ride as if the world were 18 inches wide and his front tire were cutting it precisely in half.

Perhaps, unlike Phil, you do ride as if you were in a tunnel: head down, eyes fixed straight ahead looking for broken glass, left-turning cars and maybe some cyclists to pass. Perhaps you shut out everyone and everything but average speed, cadence, heart rate and the road coming at your front wheel.

If you believe that narrow focus means you love cycling more than my buddy Phil does, lift your head up and take a look around.

Never can tell what you'd see. Might be some really good stuff out there.

1 comment:

Frenchy aka Bike Boy said...

I so appreciated your writing, your stories and your perspective. Great stuff.
It is far better than what I find my useless Bic pen emits. Thank you for the stories and the inspiration.