Photo from the article Gfunk Brings Heart-Pounding, Bike-Driven Stampedes Through Long Beach.

On Self Doubt

I coasted up to Edgar (aka “Willo”), still breathing hard, my heart an erratically beating drum in my chest. If I glanced downward I knew I’d be able to see it pounding, like something foreign trapped under my skin unable to get out, so I looked upward at the local legend instead. He still sat perched on his bike, his feet clipped into both pedals, his hand resting on the pole of a street lamp for balance.

I squinted as cars whizzed down Pacific Coast Highway, their headlights temporarily blinding as we waited for the rest of the group. Edgar finished chatting with Cesar, who bobbed his head up and down in sheepish agreement, avoiding eye contact. Then Edgar looked toward me.

“Hey, I have a question for you,” his brow furrowed slightly. “How is it that you can keep up with us, on this ride, and not completely smash on the women you race with?”

I blabbered out some kind of response, but my answer didn’t matter. I’d asked myself the same question too many times without reaching a conclusion.

He reached over to tap the plastic shell of my helmet.

“I think it’s all in here.”

He nodded at Cesar.

“I think it’s the same for him, too.”

Once the rest of the group had caught up, Cesar took off, him pushing the pace and and me, unwilling to let go of his wheel. We dropped everyone on that last stretch home, even Edgar. Perhaps with both of our mental shortcomings brought to light seconds before, we were wanting to feel what it would be like to ride without those toxic thoughts, without fear, caution or self-preservation.