Waking Finnegan

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our whole life is rounded with a sleep” ~ Shakespeare

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Location: zurich, Switzerland

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Stingray Dream


Pedaling my old boyhood Schwinn "Stingray" in a slow-mo peloton---a spectral road race cluster of cruiser bikes whose whip-around glances make the riders seem hyper-alert, like a closely knit gaggle of sightseers. As we pass through a sullen alp valley, everyone becomes intent and studied---now hellbent on not missing a beat. We're all in synch now. I'm catching mossy tree-framed views flickering through the canopy and feeling mighty chummy.

Although the Stingray seems the same gleaming blue metal-flake wonder as my first bike, I notice certain differences. For one, my seat has none of that sturdy but soft tuck-and-roll testicle padding of the original. It's only a thin shell of throwaway plastic---fake in the way of discards from my old Vacuform kit. I'm worried that this shoddiness will leave me vulnerable in the race. I'm being drafted along, not needing to pedal, and feeling guilty about the free ride.

Bang! A booming report from an unseen starter's gun and I'm caught unawares--caught "thinking"---while the staccato clatter of everyone's gear-shifting signals that I'm arrière du peloton. They're gone. My racer has become a clunkmetal puddle-jumper with whole packs of playing cards flapping up throaty chopper sounds in the spokes. While grinding clackity gears and chain-slipping again and again, I notice my furious pedaling has chewed the chainwheel down to barely serviceable plate of nubs. I'm cursing myself for being outwitted by everyone and losing my big chance. I dismount and walk towards...where? the finish? home? I know this trouncing is on the airwaves right now "...a serious lack of racing savvy and preparation...". A megaphone voice in the valley below is barking out the results. I feel sunk.

Later I'm down in the hoity-toity town among the riders and pennants. A heavyset official with droopy handlebar mustache is rope-towing me with his own huge Stingray. While he's escorting my bike jalopy and me through the sticky crowd I ask him if we're headed to pick up my "consolation". With a smokey Kentucky twang he's telling me: "You've done real good, real good!". But he suddenly disappears in the throng and I'm left alone facing the parting mob which is like the maw of a snake, opening as I enter, and contracting as I look back.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anil said...

did you change the pic? if yes, I liked the previous diffused one...seemed to suit the writing better

11:30 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

anil, I agree. The idea of the Vacuformed bike brought on my brain cramp. Thanks mucho for the input. I value your opinions highly. ;-1

12:14 PM  
Blogger Zataod said...

Despite the disasterous results of the race, it sounds like you avoided hurting yourself on the hard plastic seat. That seems like a consolation prize in my mind.

3:08 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

Zataod,
Only my feelings were hurt. Not difficult to manage that. Other sorts of pain I can do without!

3:50 PM  
Blogger . : A : . said...

"Bang! A booming report from an unseen starter's gun and I'm caught unawares--caught "thinking"---while the staccato clatter of everyone's gear-shifting signals that I'm arrière du peloton."

That sometimes happens even when you are prepared and waiting for the race.

Very vivid dream, this.

4:08 PM  
Blogger gulnaz said...

this hardly reads like a dream, reads really real. being drafted along, at the risk of hurting yourself, on someone else ride; to catch yourself unawares, the race, the seeking out the consolation prize....what a multi-layered tale!

oh and i like the approval in the kentucky twang.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

"..like the maw of a snake, opening as I enter, and contracting as I look back." One of my favourite lines in this post.

7:01 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

.:a:., boom yes!

gulnaz, the kentucky twang is ok so long as the consolation prize isn't a bucket o' chicken.

christopher, i wonder if anyone else here ever feels that sense of being devoured whenever entering a crowd of people? as i've been watching the tour de france throughout the 21 stages, there's no question why this dread has surfaced .

7:14 PM  
Blogger Perfect Virgo said...

Your inspiration here is surely the greatest cycle race in the world. How typically dream-like that your mount should be so frustratingly inadequate.

Quelle dommage, because I don't see you as a mere 'domestique,' maybe a 'poursuivant' or better still a victorious 'grimpeur!' The images you conjour are pure alpine genius -the snake opening and contracting is a perfect description of those far-too-excitable-pressing-mountain-crowds.

I always used clothes pegs to fix playing cards to my bike frame and I can still remember the impressive crackle as I wound up the pedals. "Allez-en, maillot jaune extraordinaire!"

8:20 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

Virgo, allez! i had to smile at "pure alpine genius". Only you'd come up with that.

And naturally you were privy to the chopper illusionism of those clothespin-fashioned cards.

Now you have the real deal "in spades".

8:27 PM  
Blogger luz de la luna said...

It was always lollipop sticks attached to the wheel of my bike to give it that ever so authentic motorbike sound! :-D

Interesting dream and seemed a lot less "dream like" than the others. As others commented it seemed very real.

Do you think that this dream is a product of watching the "Tour de France"? Maybe it's more realistic dream because it's born of watching the Tour rather that ideas, concepts, fears and yearnings from your deep subconscious mind?

- Martin

8:53 PM  
Blogger RuKsaK said...

This one brought back to me the feelings I had for my Tomahawk bike when I was younger - both good and bad. Amazing, how as a chld, inadequacy in the objects we owned was so well-observed. I remember hating that someone's bike might be better than mine.

And, of course, as always - brilliantly, cognitively-electrifying writing (yadda yadda yadda)

10:56 PM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I love that you're riding your old Sting Ray. Do they still exist or have they become yet another lost vestige of childhood available only in the night world?

5:39 AM  
Anonymous hera said...

your words had caught me tangled in vivid imagery. i love it.

thanks for visiting me, finnegan. ;)

6:13 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

luz de la luna, Lolli-sticks I never knew. How could I have missed that? I think I'm gonna give it a go anyway. I've never seen an adult doing so, and so might as well be the first. Hope I don't get arrested.

"Do you think that this dream is a product of watching the "Tour de France"? Maybe it's more realistic dream because it's born of watching the Tour rather that ideas, concepts, fears and yearnings from your deep subconscious mind?

Yep. (See my remark to Christopher).
My own dream "product" is mixed together with the bicycle fetishism of my childhood. I'm assuming fetishism does get under the cognitive radar, as does my the fear of being helplessly glued in a crowd.

As to my dream not being as "dream-like" as the others, I imagine Le Tour repetitions might have something to do with that. It's an interesting thought. The dream, in fact, was exceedingly vivid.

RuKsaK,
The very name "Tomahawk" suggests you were able to chop down anyone who got in your way, as well as chop up anyone who might have had a better bike.
"The Chopper" would have been less ambiguous.

Patry,
No no. My old Sting Ray is surely whimpering down in some landfill layer, probably commiserating with RuKsaK's Tomahawk.

I believe they'd put me in a mental home for riding such a bike now. In factI'dput me in a mental home---work on my drool.com blog.

3:14 PM  
Blogger floots said...

serpentine wanderings
hope it's not a lycra-covered trouser snake

i went off into a world of cleats and cadence
pain and pleasure

must brush the cobwebs off the road bike

cheers

9:56 PM  
Blogger luz de la luna said...

FINNEGAN: Try out those lolli sticks! I have tired them since becoming an "adult" I didn't get arrested, but you get some odd looks :-D

- Martin

10:35 PM  
Blogger finnegan said...

floots, trouser serpents aren't poisonous so long as you first get rid of the two men standiing guard over the ass fort.

luz, The full playing cards with clothespins has the added attraction of their unusual flickering---all kings and queens and jacks head bobbing and singing the same Hell's Angels song tune in unison.

1:00 PM  
Blogger transience said...

i missed pedaling up on this one. but it was a good ride and i struggled through all the speed bumps. now my hips hurt.

11:46 AM  
Blogger finnegan said...

trans, with all the pedals you've been pushing, i'm surprised i didn't catch you at the finish accepting the plaudits and kudos. perhaps you were too busy nursing your speed-bump induced saddle-sores.

2:51 PM  

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