Monday, July 02, 2007

Tracking Down the Speedo Man: Close Encounter of the Third Kind

Part 8 in a series (previously, next)
Originally published in Unfiltered Magazine, Spring 2000, by Paul Schramski

A few days later, while driving home from school, I saw him. The Bikeman road his bicycle in irregular strides, passing the dangerous construction on Speedway. I pulled over and attempted to interview him, although I feared what type of person he might be. I introduced myself and began to ask him a few unprepared questions.

What is a typical day for you?
I generally get up and ride my bike all dy long. I ride eight thousand miles a year, a hundred and fifty miles a week, and sometimes fifty-five miles a day. I've lived in Tucson for more than twenty-five years, and this is what I like to do.

Do you worry about skin cancer?
I haven't died yet, have I? I'd rather ride around and get cancer than be a smelly old diaper-wearing senior citizen living in a home. It's a lot better than sitting down watching TV all day, anyway.

Why do you like riding your bike?
I am what you might call independently poverty stricken. I live in a shack and eat out of a trashcan. All I really have in this world is riding my bike.

So it's sort of spiritual for you then? Do you have any words of advice for teens who would be reading this magazine?
When I was your age, I wish I had driven a lot faster and paid less attention to authority. Regret nothing too wild! The only regret I have was that I was too conservative.

He rode off when he had finished this last sentence. I wondered if perhaps he was making up for his lack of wildness early in life by living loudly in the present. Before I had a chance to even has his real name, he disappeared. I didn't bother to chase him; he had served his purpose. Ambiguous and entertaining, the Bikeman remains a Tucson treasure.

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