You guys, I may have actually seen Jesus today.
It may not have been Jesus. It may have been one of the American Gods, a god of steel and stone and bicycle-tire rubber. Like, a pale shadow of the god across the sea in the old country, from a place of savages and dancing flames where they sacrifice three virgins to a monstrous bicycle idol by the light of the full moon. I don't know. But I really cannot say for certain that this cyclist is not that being.
He was not very impressive to look at. The bike he rode was pale pink, the paint cracked and flaking. The back of his seat, which was the only part of it I saw, was torn and had some stuffing coming out. From what I could tell of the handlebar cords, they were somewhat rusted over. The guy himself wasn't wearing a helmet, just a backwards gangster baseball cap and a black T-shirt with an orange messenger bag slung across his back. His legs were bronze and skinny, maybe as wide around as a large zucchini (singular: zucchin?), and without any real muscle visible to the eye when he was at rest. But when he was on the move, guys, holy fuck.
We were going down the Euclid Corridor, which leads from Cleveland proper into the Outer Rim territories, and goes from city to wasteland to medical palace to suburbs. It's maybe four and a half miles from the city center to the Cleveland Clinic, and this guy was just tearing up the road. I mean it. Chunks of concrete were flying into the road, hitting cars, pedestrians, things were exploding in his wake, as I live and breathe.
My bike has twenty-one gears. I was on gear 19 and he easily, easily, outpaced me. Just sped right on ahead as if I was standing still. Okay, I thought when I caught him at a light, I accept your challenge. Gear 20. And he whizzed right on by me again, without apparent effort. Fine, you fuck, Gear 21 it is. I'll pedal my absolute hardest and I will catch up to you, you bastard, see if I don't. And I kept up with him. Barely. I kept up with him for maybe a mile of stops and starts before he signaled right, sweat shining on his forehead in the sun, veered right and was lost to me.
Fine, I thought. I, sir, will remember you. I raised my hand in salute to his freakish biking ability and watched him recede into the heart of Cleveland Clinic. At this point, in my mind, he was still mortal, not yet godly. The divine light had yet to shine from his eyes and his hands. He was forgotten for all of two minutes, while I struggled up the hill on Cornell, to the little plateau at the intersection of Murray Hill... and there he was again. He'd gone the long way around, who knows how many blocks out of his way, and still made it to my intersection at *precisely the same time as I*.
I was impressed. But the true proof of his divinity lay directly before us. There is a hill, leading down into the heart of Little Italy, whose name has been forgotten by Time. No man can surmount this hill without paying a terrible price, for the old spirits of the hill are wroth at man's feeble attempts to conquer it. Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary never came to the base of Murray Hill, because they could not. It was beyond their power to achieve.
This deity in human flesh attacked the hill as though it were a huge, heaving monster and he the knight to slay it. He raced up the hill, and when I say raced, I mean that Lancelot of the House Steroid could not have caught him. I followed him, spitting obscenities and pedaling like a man possessed. I have never taken that hill at a gear higher than 17, but fuck it, I went to nineteen. I was puffing, wheezing, sweating, pushing as hard as I ever have, blazing up the hill compared to me on any other day, and watching this madman on a bike outrace me like it wasn't even a thing. The trees on the park side of the road were cracking and falling backwards, away from the road, as he went. Cars were being blown off the street. A murder of crows arose behind us and sent up a nightmarish chorus of their rackish caws. Thunder rolled in the sky, time slowed, reality bent, and still he kept on, guys, he kept pounding and grinding to the top of the hill. And then, my friends, do you know what he did?
He kept going.
Like it wasn't even a thing.
I was spent. I was done. I wasn't contemplating just laying down and dying as a thing I really, really wanted to do, but it was definitely one of the options I was obliged to consider. A three-legged, broke-dick dog could've beaten me home from the top of that hill. I was just out. And there goes King Bicycle on his raggedy pink machine, flying ahead like nothing alive until he was lost to view.
I know not what god or demon I followed home from work today, but of this I am certain: it was not of this natural, corporeal earth. No man can do the things I saw him do. It could have been Jesus, it could have been Loki, it could have been some nameless god from the nightmare wild before men had words to clothe it. I don't know. But it's here, in Cleveland, and that means no man is safe. Weep for your little cyclists, men and women. Weep for the cyclists of the world.