Girls of Summer
A blown cycling career in the glimpses of a teenage fool
Published: June 13, 2012
A few years later you're surrounded by your bandmates in a dismal rehearsal space in ugly downtown L.A., a cramped space that doubles as living quarters for you, your teenage wife, your band and their girlfriends. The room's a fairly accurate approximation of how you picture hell. You're drunk on Colt 45 and watching the Summer Olympics on a tiny black-and-white TV with a coat-hanger antenna. You're surrounded by your drunken, weed-huffing bandmates, who haven't a clue what could possibly be going on inside you. No way to even begin to explain. But you're haunted in the worst way when the Olympic cycling road race comes on. Especially when your ex-teammate fills the screen, the one with whom you raced, lived and traveled, who told you to "slow down" during an important two-man time trial in the ghost-town hills of the Southwest because he could barely hang on. He was your cycling twin, a little older but equally as obsessed. Back then.
There are but a few moments in life when you're suddenly and painfully aware what a single heartbeat of a bad decision can do.
That drunken Olympic day in downtown L.A. was one such moment. You watch your ex-teammate represent your country and win the Olympic gold medal in cycling.
That was hard. Harder still is watching another friend win the Tour de France many times in the years to come. You learn that your only options are, as one smart English writer once said, kill yourself or get over it.
But that was before.
Now, it's summertime again. A million summers later. You finally got yourself a soul mate. Maybe you should get a bike, just for the hell of it.
Brian Smith is managing editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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