Every so often, a challenge comes along with opposing sides so polarized that the entire future of the universe hinges on the outcome of the competition. Man vs. Man. Matt vs. Kyle. Good vs. Evil. It. All. Comes. Down. To. This.
I knew that going in. I was warned to watch out for Kyle “The Chain Killer” Lewis. I’d heard rumors about his chain killing obsession. But it’s different when you see the wreckage first hand.
On Wednesday of last week, I was scheduled to participate in National Walk at Lunch Day, a special day of the year where individuals and groups get together to take a walk during their lunch break. A group had been organized by Arlington County and we were all meeting in Rosslyn at 12:00 pm. There were probably balloons, and clowns, and free ice cream. I don’t know. I never made it.
Half way through my bike ride to Rosslyn, my chain mysteriously popped off my bike. I tried to console her, telling her that everything would be fine. Chains can be fixed after all. But it was no use. She wouldn’t pedal. She wouldn’t switch gears. She wouldn’t do anything.
And as I sat there on the sidewalk, holding the broken shell of what was once a beautiful bike, I knew there was only one explanation: The Chain Killer.
Rain loomed off in the distance. Cars sped by, taunting me as I sat: a broken spirit, holding his broken steed, stuck in the midst of what had become the most dangerous of car-free competitions. What would the Chain Killer do next? Pop off another chain? Probably…he’s more or less a one trick pony.
Rosslyn, somewhere beyond the horizon, was no more than a dream to me. I was stranded. All hope had been lost. I gripped the towel loosely in my hand, ready to throw it into the proverbial ring.
And suddenly, I saw him, a vision: Kyle, wearing his long black dress and big pointy black hat, cycling through the skies, laughing his little witchy laugh and making little witchy threats aimed at girls and their dogs, and men and their bikes. I couldn’t let him win. Not this time. Not on my watch. Not again.
My bike squeaked, so faint that only someone with a deep spiritual connection could hear it. But I heard it. It rang out like the liberty bell, telling me to push forward, to keep fighting. And just like Rocky when he infamously ain’t heard no bell, I too found a second wind. The show, as they say, had to go on.
I walked the bike the remainder of the distance to Rosslyn. I was late, that’s for sure. The group had already left. On a ordinary day, I’d have just gone home. But this was no ordinary day, and it was no ordinary challenge.
From my pack, I pulled the ancient Flip Cam bestowed upon me by Arlington County.
“Use this,” they told me, “in your most troubled times. Let it guide you. Let it tell your story.”
So I shot. I shot and I shot and I shot until I could shoot no more. People walking everywhere, enjoying the outdoors, enjoying the exercise, enjoying the company of those around them. The rain, which only moments before had seemed all but certain to come in and drench the day in its downpour, now scuttled off in search of some other car-free competition.
I ambled along the busy Rosslyn streets, nodding and waving to all of those who passed by. The battle had certainly been won, but the war was far from over. I knew I needed to reach Revolution Cycles if I was going to have any chance of surviving.
So I scaled walls, and I crossed bridges and rivers, and I climbed hills. I continued the journey. The man at the Georgetown gate was nowhere to be found, and entrance into that land was uneventful. Revolution Cycles welcomed me wholly. A magician does not reveal his secrets, so I’ve no idea what sort of spell or charm was placed on my bike, but within seconds, the chain was repaired, and my bike was riding like it was brand new again.
I knew I was still a long way from home, and a long way from victory. Still, for just a moment, I could breathe easy. I hopped on the bike, my feet spinning atop the pedals. With each car that passed, I thought about what still lay ahead for me in this car-free challenge; but I’ve no way to know what the future holds. All I can do is try to be prepared for the unexpected. And keep pedaling. Above all else, keep pedaling.
Please enjoy this video depicting my narrow escape from what could have been an untimely end to my car-free challenge. And enjoy the music! It’s a song I recorded just so you’d have music to keep your spirits up during an otherwise dark tale.