May 2, 2009 in Features

The Slice: Speech invitation got the wheels turning

By The Spokesman-Review
 
StockXpert photo

The road warriors are coming.StockXpert
(Full-size photo)

Back in March, I received an e-mail from a guy named Todd.

He wondered if I would be willing to speak to those attending the Bike To Work Week Kick-Off Breakfast on May 11 at Riverfront Park. He noted that a representative from the mayor’s office would also be saying a few words.

I wrote back and said that I would be pleased to do so.

Todd replied, thanking me.

Then, a bit later, another e-mail from Todd arrived. This one included the following: “It sounds like the Mayor’s Office will be taking up most of the speaking time.”

Hey, I get it. You don’t have to paint me a picture.

I know how to keep it brief. So I’ll just compliment the pancake-makers, remind everyone to wear their helmets and then sit my bike-tested butt back down. I’m sure the representative of the mayor’s office will keep us on the edge of our seats for a long, long time.

But if I had more than a walk-on role, here’s what I would have said:

My fellow cyclists,

That soreness in your crotch will go away. If you haven’t ridden in a few years, you might have forgotten that it takes a while to adjust to your bike seat.

And as I look out on this great gathering, I can see that some of you obviously are in pathetic shape. So this afternoon, if your ride home includes hills, you are going to utter what I used to refer to in my childhood confessional as “bad names.”

Do not despair. Tomorrow, the hills will be there again – only now your legs will already be dead.

Yes, biking really is a celebration of life.

Now I know some of you are concerned about being in traffic with cars and trucks. So let me paraphrase FDR: The only thing we have to fear is drunk drivers, insecure/hostile idiots in mammoth rigs, canyonesque potholes and resentful Spokane motorists who hate you on sight.

I myself started riding because of Bike To Work Week last year. God, it hurt.

But I’ve stayed with it. And now cycling has become such an integral part of my life that many of my readers have found themselves cheering me on. They send me encouragement such as “Dear Mr. Turner, I thought your constant references to your neighbor’s cat were the absolute worst, but now I have to admit that your unending bike talk has gotten to be even MORE makes-me-want-to-scream annoying!”

Hey, don’t mention it.

In closing, I would just like to say that bike riders can make Spokane a better city. But if you spend too much time rubbing your groin at work today, people are going to think we’re weird.

Thank you.

(To register for Bike To Work Week, go to www.biketoworkspokane.org.)

•Today’s Slice question: Do you have a personal holiday that’s not a birthday, anniversary, et cetera?

Me? I’m thinking of observing May 9, the first day I rode a bike to work.

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail pault@spokesman.com. For previous Slice columns, see www.spokesman.com/columnists. Jay DeWitt notes that Seattle (206) + Denver (303) = Spokane (509).


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