|Google Maps view of the "race track"|
Kids nowadays, man that makes me sound old, seem to be only interested in the newest shoot 'em up video game that they play online. And don't get me wrong, I was a huge fan of the Halo games, I enjoy a bout with my brothers and their friends online killing each other like rabid, ravenous raccoons at summer camp. However, the adrenaline rush is just not there, it isn't the same thing to me and the physical aspect of it is definitely missing.
But where my brother Matt and I grew up, down the alley was a large funeral home parking lot that worked perfectly as a race track. Partly because we liked speed, and partly because the park across the street chased us out for riding too fast in the 1/4 mile loop they had there. So all throughout the summer and weekends during the school year, we would race.
Beforehand we would talk about how many laps, pick our "pit stalls" on pit lane (the line down the middle of all the cars in the image above), and then we would randomly select who would be lined up in each of the starting rows. We always started with people side by side and then we would line up in 2's. In order to have the person randomly selected we had a extremely scientific method of selection. It has been passed down over the generations and always was tried, tested, and true. Honestly you couldn't flub these results as even the world's best scientists would attest to the accuracy of the randomness of potential selection.
Our method went something like this:
"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by it's toe
If it hollers let it go
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe "
And sometimes when people feel there was "cheating" in the method we would pull out the mother of all random selective methods:
"My mother told me you are it
Not because you're dirty
Not because you're clean
Just because you kissed a dirty girl
Behind a dirty magazine
O-U-T spells out
And you are out of this entire game."
This was always done with the front tire in a circle on pit row, with any "pit crew" (usually younger siblings that couldn't safely keep pace) nearby to witness the coin toss as it were. We were always looking out for the next generation's safety, I mean how could we let them into sanctioned races on old, steel bikes with kickstands, balloon tires, and no helmets? We couldn't live with ourselves if something happened.....or our moms found out.
By the time this was over, we watered up, lined up, and on the "3,2,1, GO!" we were off!
|This is always how we felt in turns|
And of course how we looked
As we all grew older we got faster on the bikes we had, but the inevitable happened. Someone showed up with a hot rod of a bicycle; you know the kid whose parents had a little bit more income. Usually the spoiled only kid who didn't know what it was like to cram 4 kids into one bedroom while repairs were going on in the other bed rooms. You know that kid who had the Talkboy BEFORE Christmas and he wasn't Jewish, but his parents had money coming out of everywhere so they just celebrated Chanukah for the spiritual experience despite being Catholic.
It was that kid who showed up on the 10 speed. At this time, the early 90's, neon EVERYTHING was in fashion and they showed up in their Reebok Pumps with neon green laces, their multi-neon-colored bike, neon colored water bottle and non matching bottle cage, and their neon color 4 digit cable lock around the seat stem. For some reason, despite our experience in the scientific method of random selection, that kid was always put last. Those races went from being fast, to who can keep the "rich" kid in back. It was literally all against one.
I can still remember hearing the kid catch up to me, hear the derailleur shift the chain into a new gear, and then watch helplessly as they moved on by while I am pedaling to beat the band. That guy always would win, and we would stand huffing and puffing in the pits at the end while our stinkin' pit crews were by his bicycle ogling it and being general traitors.
And he held his place on the podium until the next year when someone showed up with a 12 speed, and until I showed up with my 18 speed Huffy mountain bike. Then it was on like Donkey Kong....