Monday, March 15, 2010

Handsome Jack Will Ride Again

Handsome Jack
Monday, Sept. 22, 2008, 1:03:44 AM
4100 block of First Avenue South,
Seattle, Wash.
One of the first night rides on record

We might be tempted to take night riding for granted, to assume that it always existed, like the Internet, and love.

If we did that we would make asses out of you and me, because the modern incarnation of night riding -- distance biking at night fueled by performance enhancing drugs like alcopops and grape Swishers -- started with two pioneers, two geniuses, two visionaries, one of which is me.

The other we shall introduce, Handsome Jack.

Handsome Jack turns 30 on Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, but for now we can say he is in his 20s.

We're from the same neighborhood in Renton, small town boys.

It started with a common love Jack and I share for roaming at night, perhaps something we both developed growing up in a place where the cops dress like ninjas.

At the time, a few years back, Jack lived on Queen Anne Hill, off Taylor. When we hung out on Saturday night, maybe Friday night, we walked.

The rest of our friends don't like to walk like we do. Both of us, great walkers of our time.

And so we walked, had mini adventures rambling around the city, once up Capitol Hill, once around Lake Union, once around the base of Queen Anne. Met strange and interesting people, saw many rats. When Jack moved to West Seattle, we had a nice little Alki Loop.

It wasn't just about walking, though. We talked and had great conversations. I love stories, and I made him tell me many. Jack's a smart guy, see, not a conversation hog, is passionate about music and has impressive chops on the guitar -- makes a good traveling companion.

Our walking plans became more ambitious, until we ran out of ideas and just walked.

"If we had bikes, we could really cover a lot of ground," Jack said.

I shrugged him off. Not interested in bikes, I said.

Then everything changed.

I bought a bike, a later model Giant Sedona, Wazzu colors, what might be known as a "lifestyle" bike.

It took me a year or so before I started riding it, not much at first, but then started taking short (although not at the time) night rides around my neighborhood. In the meantime, Jack moved to Magnolia.

We made plans to take a walk, but at the last minute, we decided to take our bikes.

We rode to Alki and back -- a measly 20-25 miles. It kicked our asses good, though.

It was one of the greatest nights of my life. I had found what poets might call "true love," and began dedicating time, the patience of loved ones and paychecks to bikes.

Others joined the fray and found themselves smitten -- the mystery, the thrill, the stoned drunken goodness, the exercise -- and night riding was born.

Jack rolled only a few times more. He had a pretty spectacular wreck under the Spokane Street bridge -- where he jumped a curb cut then immediately ran into a curb, getting thrown but not injured -- but he had other plans, other wishes, other designs.

He moved to Alabama for six months, left his bike with some friends, who lost it, or it got stolen, or forgotten, or something.

Handsome Jack, 30 this week, inventor of night riding, Renton boy, Navy vet, gifted musician, will begin his third round of chemotherapy soon. At the start of the year, after seeing a doctor for lumps on his neck, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

It's been hard for him to lose his hair. But he's a night rider, he's tough. He's going to beat this, beat it like Big Finn Hill.

Happy birthday, Handsome Jack.

Your pal

1 comment:

  1. Good luck Jack! Let us know if you need anything!