Disorderly Habits

 

 

He holds up the fumbled piece of paper in his left hand, trying to juggle the mic while putting down his can of coke in one go with his right. The battered skateboard loosely balances under one of his vans, heel slightly up. Pink socks, a tiny rim of skin visible under the rolled up jeans.


Nine laps to go. The rumble of the forty riders' peloton that just passed by is fading in the distance. Nothing left but the almost silence, accompanied by a faint beat of a catchy house tune that would have been a floor filler ten years ago.


He looks back at race control. Any changes in the tête de la course would mean an instant adrenaline rush that could only be answered by a exclamation in the microphone. But none yet. He could just let the moment pass, wait until the riders show up in the distance, telling the story as it would unfold before his eyes. But that isn't his style.


No, that void: an endless vacuum of possibilities, opening up between lap nine and eight. Time to do what he does best. His voice echoes over the empty course, finding it's way through the speakers near the distant club house where most of the spectators are soaking up the late season sun. It could be about anything. Or about nothing in particular. He loves that endless pool of nondescript options. Pizza. Could be about that.


The riders emerge in the distance, leaning through corner eight, coming up to the final straight. The few spectators across the track get up their feet, the anticipation growing with each inch. There seems to be a breakaway of about three riders. Pushing, but not yet over the edge. Still a long way to go. He shouts and yells while they blaze past, leaving a gap to be filled by the pack of riders that countered the attack.


He is among friends. A vital part of the circus that is tying this disorderly crit family together. The season has been intense. He's relieved this is the final one for now. But he also knows the longing will start as soon as he mounts his bike tonight. Good thing there are velodromes.


Crash in corner three. He wipes the sweat of his face with the 'Habits' part of his shirt, a passing train leaving a welcoming breeze of cool air. Summer is still here. A great announcer tells the tales he imagines, showing spectators what they can't see themselves and entertaining the masses when there's no tale to be told. It might be about nothing, but it makes all the difference.


Final lap. The hairs on his arms raise slightly, his free hand reaching for the checkered flag that leans against a near barrier. He is here, it's now. Nothing beats that final sprint. The arm up high in the air, the weight of the flag pole pushing slightly against his waist. The audience roars, the lone rider up front getting chased by the pack. As they catch up and pass him the flag comes down in one final go. This is it.

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