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Bikexchange.com Column #11

Jungle Ride
Gianna Bellofatto

Ms. Bellofatto is a freelance writer and avid cyclist who whose column, Life Is a Bike, appears regularly in The Bicycle Exchange.

The early morning sun sifted through the blinds of my apartment and awoke me to the sterling day that lie ahead. It was only 5:15 a.m. and not a moment too soon to ride. I jumped into my cycling shorts, threw on my Bikexchange T-shirt, grabbed the helmet and glided out the door. A chorus of songbirds greeted me. “Right this way to paradise,” they sang.

It was late spring and the morning temperature was perfect. The lingering night coolness made the air feel clean. Yes, a quick 10-mile ride would be the right start to this day. I set north, then east to face the rising sun where the road bends past the blooming azalea bushes. I know this ride well.  The road is familiar and worn. Every bump has had its chance to nudge me. Every house has its Garden of Eden in full regalia. There’s nothing new here under the June sun. Familiar is good at this hour.

A car drifted past me toward the traffic signal up the road. I heard another car coming up from behind. Even at 5:15 in the morning you’re never really too far from civilization in suburbia. The motors broke the peaceful mood. On an adventure a moment ago—I’m now rooted in the reality of a ride before work.

Then a real-life drama broke loose. A blue jay swooped out of nowhere and dove into my left shoulder just grazing the top of my T-shirt. I had no time to think when another blue jay from the right flew straight into my back and pecked at the fabric. I was under attack! Would there be third blue jay?

By now I was aside the cars at the traffic signal. Both drivers had witnessed the encounter and were equally startled. The nerve that nature was getting in the way of my ride! I hugged my handlebars while nearly turning my head 360 degrees to check if other birds were lurking in the trees. 

I cranked on despite being shaken by these critters. To think I often admire blue jays from the safety of my apartment.  Now, I felt vulnerable and easy prey. I was a bug. What caused them to react in such a predatory manner?

When I got home I looked at the Bikexchange T-shirt more carefully. At a quick glance the logo may have appeared to be a black bird with its wings spread out in flight. The blue jays were probably nesting and defending their young. Well, maybe, but maybe not. Perhaps this was the beginning of a whole new era in evolution. Innocent cyclist stumbles upon a shift in the natural hierarchy.  Bikers relegated to a lower rung on the food chain. It’s shocking. After all, everyone knows cyclists are inherently a higher life form. No, not really. Even we cyclists need to be reminded that earth is shared with all creatures great and small. But, life is a bike and we’re still King of the Jungle.

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