Charles Bukowski – Rain
a symphony orchestra.
there is a thunderstorm,
they are playing a Wagner overture
and the people leave their seats under the trees
and run inside to the pavilion
the women giggling, the men pretending calm,
wet cigarettes being thrown away,
Wagner plays on, and then they are all under the
pavilion. the birds even come in from the trees
and enter the pavilion and then it is the Hungarian
Rhapsody #2 by Lizst, and it still rains, but look,
one man sits alone in the rain
listening. the audience notices him. they turn
and look. the orchestra goes about its
business. the man sits in the night in the rain,
listening. there is something wrong with him,
he came to hear the
As the rain began to fall Saturday afternoon in Baltimore I forgot about the work week, about bills, about the head cold I was finally riding my body of. I was here to race bicycles (and make photographs) and nothing else. The simpleness of pedaling hard for 45 minutes, the task of staying upright, navigating slippery corners, trying to supply enough oxygen to the working parts of the body.
For a small window of the day there is nothing else. I used to stress for days going into race weekends, wondering if after a week of standing in front of a bike stand if my legs would even want turn the pedals over. I would get so nervous I would shake on start lines wanting so badly to get a good result.
On Saturday there were nerves but not overwhelming, and things that happened during the race that would normally send my mind into the state of a jostled beehive I laughed off and moved forward. The cramps rising in my ribs, the ever so slight taste of blood in the back of my throat, once things of concern were now just accepted facts. As the voice of Marc Vettori boomed out of the pit “Your pedaling is pretty but not as pretty as your photographs Rothmeyer! Let’s Go!”
I smiled and when I saw Jim V. and Kris P. by the planter box obstacle I smiled again. It’s taken me longer than it should have to understand that bike racing for me and for a lot of us is an act of escapism. Sure it’s a hobby and a passion, and many put a lot into their season, into being the best and I respect that but for me, I came here to race bicycles, plain and simple.