Tuesday, December 6, 2011


in order for this to work, we've got to go a little faster.

there's the concrete, then the apron, then the blue part that the anglophones keep calling 'd'orré', then the boards, then the black line, the red line, and way up there, the yellow line.

we are attached to these brakeless machines through hands and feet, and these machines attach us to the boards. we must go a little faster.

we must look far, far to the left, always craning that way, pushing hard into what we see, into where we will be, in a moment's breath. there is no breathing. there is that stopping and starting and gasping like drowning or sobbing or exalting. it must be all three at once. like turning, and gravity, and speed, all working at once to threaten death while planting us ever more firmly into the boards.

we run through drills. on-drills and off-drills. hand drills. passing drills. calling out drills. maneuvering over the boards at any point in that glorious oval drills. black line drills. red line drills. never yellow line drills. an old man in a leather jacket, cap toe shoes, and an irish cap calls out the routines, demonstrates them with fluid grace in black leather gloved hand and black leather shoed foot. he is excited. he is not alone. other older men lead us around the track. gesture toward our lines. demand more and accept less. we learn. we progress. what time is it? we've been in orbit forever.

and i still can't get enough.

sometimes, we have speed and cohesion and grace. then we forget, or we get tired, or someone slows down or speeds up, and the flow that was there, leaves. we try not to crash into each other. we run up the boards in awkward lines on attached machines that are squeaky but moving, not stuttering like our pace, or rushing like our head blood.

here we go again.

on. up past the apron and the blue ribbon and onto the boards. in sprinter's lane. we are not sprinting. we are barely keeping up with the graceful stroke of the old man in lead. one by one, we practice passing on high. our pedals sweep past his grey temples, past his glasses, past his helmet that looks so oddly modern. we spin smoothly along, moving tubes of steel and circles of metal teeth past the skin on his face, past his wool jersey by nike, past his chrome lugged cinelli, and off toward another left turn. our necks ache. we check left out of the turns. we check right halfway through the straight. then we're turning again. all the blood rushes to the bottom of me. my vision gets blurry. my open mouth creeps into a vague grin. we're bounding out of the turn.

it's hard not to go faster. it's hard to stand or sit still once we're back off. we want to look over our left shoulders. we want to put on more clothes. the fans are off so that all we can here is our teeth chattering and the boards flexing under rider after whirling rider. we're blending in that cycle. jerseys turn to multicoloured swirls and boards turn into moments and teeth turn into clenches and time turns into space and those both turn into light and all we can see is the black line the black line the red line the black line.


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