“When I see the word ‘pilates,’ I think of Pontius Pilate.”
Our night began in the dark, sweat-smelly bowels of Life Time Fitness, at a pilates class for which Nola and I had signed up. Bare-footed, workout clothes-clad, we laid on the “carriage” of a pilates machine, on the precipice of its “well,” performing basic pilates exercises—stretches, core work, push-ups—as our instructor Anne Pulaska chanted hypnotically. “Bahhhhccck, and forth. Innnnnnn, and out. Breathe in, breathe ouuuuttt. Scoop your belly. Pull in your abs. Really feel your butt against the machine.”
We slid to and fro on the carriage’s shiny board in ways I can’t well recollect now, but by the end of class, my pale, freckly, somewhat muscled body felt sufficiently stretched if not especially worked. It was beginner’s level, after all, and free—just an introduction. The hard stuff would come in future classes, for-pay ones. This class was an enticement, a good one, because it eased the areas of my neck and back that, when desk-job tight, send migraines into my brain. I might sign up for the full pilates course.
After pilates, Nola and I walked home through downtown’s early evening crowds, around daisy-duked, cowboy-booted and -hatted gals who’d rolled in to see country music star Eric Church, a burly, mustachioed unknown to us. A group of honky-tonk girls walked past, and Nola said, “That was like walking into a wall of cheap hair product.” We cleared the crowds by crossing Washington, then ascended to our new River Station apartment. Nola made us a scrumptious veggie dinner soaked in green curry, and I shoveled it into my gaping maw. All preparation for our nighttime bike ride.
- I emptied my bike bag so it could fit the Xbox I’d pick up at pal Logan’s later
- I found Nola’s missing headlight
- I exchanged my raw denim for bright blue shorts, my work shirt for a navy blue tank
- I taped a headlight to my Bern helmet, providing a handy head-mounted light throughout the ride, transforming myself into a hipster miner
- I whined a lot, because I wanted to stay home and watch a movie on my PS3. Nola couldn’t be persuaded to stay inside, though, thank the lawd.
We set off on 2nd Street near 9 p.m., as the evening sun set upon Minnie. Nola and I have defined ourselves as “destination bikers,” rather than “recreational bikers.” I, especially, require a destination, so we set one: Minnehaha Falls, the beautiful waterfall in South Minneapolis that freezes picturesquely in the winter, and whose yearly thaw is a joy to see. We planned to ride River Road into South Minneapolis, then hit up 46th Street and end at the falls, staring at the falling water romantically while kissing—or something. River Road, though, was a buggy nightmare.
The nearer the path to the river, the denser the bugs ’round us. Swarms of ‘em, thick specky clouds. Tinies that slam into your body as you descend into West River’s valley. I rode while facing the ground so the annoying pixies would collide with my helmet, but River Road curves often, and is not well-lighted, and has many trees and poles on its side, so I had to look up to make sure I wasn’t about to hit something. Who knows how many bugs I swallowed, at least 10 grams’ worth of protein. I swiped to wipe them off, then pulled to the side of River. “This is ridiculous,” I said to Nola. “I can’t see! Let’s take Marshall into St. Paul and then Fairview to Ford Parkway. We can ride that all the way to the falls!”
We rode so. Up darkened Summit, past a truck driver who yelled “Get on the sidewalk!” and prompted not anger but contemptuous mirth; alongside a helmetless hipster who struggled to pass us though we expended little (“I could’ve smoked that motherfucker,” I told Nola later. “I know, baby. I know,” she said.); around and between beautiful big trees and old Victorian manses I once saw every day bicycling home. Fairview was the best: long, silent and dark, with few cars and a well-kept bike lane. We rode to the river on a residential street parallel with Ford Parkway, then pedaled right past Minnehaha Falls. The endorphins were up, the high of the bike ride. We hit Minnehaha Parkway without hesitating.
From there, Lakes Harriet and Calhoun. Past the Elf Tree, tied-up sailboats with their peaceful summer’s wind clang, crabby middle-aged women walkers, and bros boasting about girls: “So she comes up to me, and she’s average-looking,” Nola overheard one say. “All these yuppie kids use their smartphones at trivia,” I heard another say. Calhoun was near-empty, and we raced around it without any company but each other. Downtown Minneapolis sang brightly in the distance. We met the Greenway across Lake, then rode Bryant to Logan’s place. I slid my new Xbox 360 into my duathlon Chrome, gave Logan a sweaty, bare-armed hug, then hit the road for more.
Downtown we ran into the post-concert crowds, and with their cowboy hats on, they cat-called us as they clogged the sidewalks of 6th and 7th Street and blocked our bike lane on Hennepin. Nola does have a nice butt, and I can’t help how sexy I look in my tank top. Once again, we found a way around them. At home, just past 11 p.m., I ravaged the three cans of cold La Croix I’d dreamt of since cupping bathroom-faucet water to my lips at Lake Harriet. Then, I mapped our route on Google (a clumsy, frustrating process, because Google’s road-follower line doesn’t recognize bike paths) and stayed up past 1 a.m., charged on adrenaline. 26 miles.