A lizarddick bastard stole my bike and I’m heartbroken. A wilted, broken wreck of a man stumbling through the Hong Kong streets. For a week, I walked the route I used to bike, unable to bring myself to take that loud subterranean cunt they call the subway. Laid out underneath us in the dark, she’s the gilded whore of the transportation world. Dark, sultry and ruthlessly efficient, she’ll get you where you want to go, but not how you wanted to get there. It’s transportation without affection, a business transaction, a rapid splash of come across the rails. There’s no love in my heart for the subway, and there never will be. I feel like a parasite whenever I’m inside her; she tolerates me grudgingly, whisking me to my stop and then snap* snap snapping the doors closed on my heels. Please stand back from the closing doors. What a fanged bitch. This rotten commercial pigswill is a moneygrubbing farce, a crude emotionless parody of transportation. Fuji was my equal, my traveling companion in a pedestrian world.
When I first met Fuji, took her home, we spent a week just riding through the streets, dodging sweaty diesel buses and screaming cantonese swears at taxis, spitting middle finger extended on windshields of mindless sedans, speeding down foreign roads through markets over mountains jungle, standing together on the deck of a ferry, my right pants leg rolled up and calf tattooed with a line of her teeth marks, smeared in thick black lipstick. Fuji’s presence opened my eyes and my heart to the city, turning every day into an exploration, every morning’s commute into a scream of joy.
She scared me sometimes. She was so light, so flexible, that together I felt we became something different, a supercreature, dark, aggressive and dangerously fast, weaving through cars in perfect sync. I’d look down in surprise as we sped unceasingly through intersections, matching trajectories with speeding cars and following an anointed arc over manholes and streetcar rails. And when that gorgeous Hong Kong rarity, an open, empty road, appeared before us, I’d stand on the pedals, sink down into her drops, and suddenly we’d be going at warp speed, sweat dripping from my arms to run down her frame, flipping past enraged shopkeepers, idling engines, thousands of wide-eyed pedestrians afraid to jaywalk; the only sign of our passing a blue and black blur and the sonic wave building in front of us, shattering car mirrors and killing small birds in our wake.
After our first weeks of our velocitous affair, I heard Fuji complain for the first time, a muted whimper escaping her front wheel bearings on the way up Shek O mountain. The squeak slipped through fingers clamped tight over her mouth, unbidden, it reached my ears, my feet catching dead in the pedals at the thought of causing her pain.
That was the first night she slept over. I carried her up eleven flights of stairs to the roof outside my apartment and spent hours moving up and down her frame with spanner, allen keys, spoke wrenches and what little knowledge I had of the inner workings of a bicycle, trusting her to show me what she needed.
That night I opened up every bearing surface on her, coating the delicate balls inside with thick axle grease. I tensioned cables, cranked down hard on her adjustable headset where it was creaking, and brought her rims into perfect true. I coated the chain and shift mechanisms until they glistened black and sultry with synthetic oil. After hours of labored focus in the muggy Mong Kok night, I stood. My face was drenched in sweat and rust, shirt stained, face smeared with old grease darkened with street grime. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and traced a streak of grease running along my jaw, then brought my fingers to my mouth. They tasted of road grit and cheap teflon. I fell asleep on an unmade bed in my greasy clothes, dreaming of double yellow lines.
In the morning, Fuji was still outside in the sunlight, lying on her back and steel spokes glistening in the breeze. I gave the cranks a couple hard turns and her rear wheel spun up like a centrifuge, perfectly silent, with unflinching momentum. I held my fingers a millimeter off the tires as they spun, and the air vibrated with potential. That morning, Fuji and I tore down Nathan road in perfect sync. Stripped down to my undershirt, I bobbed to the beat in my headphones, standing on the pedals and pushing down with my whole force on every stroke. In the downhill sprint from Jordan to Tsim Sha Tsui, I never touched the brakes, just poured on more deadly speed and watched the front tires of the taxis in front of me, thinking, “I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m Jimmy Dean. I’m Steve McQueen” as I tore through the ephemeral canyons between busses, ducking my head around their side mirrors on my way past.
I read somewhere about a bird in the Amazon that’s the fastest flyer in the world. They fly kamikaze missions in the rainforest at a hundred miles and hour, pulling high-G maneuvers around baobabs and lianas. Their population has been decimated by crashes, and they’ll likely vanish from the face of the earth in my lifetime. These birds are on to something, I thought, and flying full speed towards extinction, we broke through the final red light onto Salisbury, leaning into the steep fast turn and then pulling out of it to swerve across four lanes of traffic into the ferry terminal.
I remember the first time I saw her, in a tourist bike shop on Lantau. She was a floor model, occasionally taken for test rides, but underneath the dust of neglect, I could see the italic Fuji stamped white on her blue frame, her drop bars cushioned with spiraling black tape.
Like all first dates, it was horribly awkward, but from the moment my feet touched pedals I was enraptured, suspended weightless six inches off slicked asphalt and launched into a firework of joy. I was flooded with reckless emotion, sprinting with her down Mui Wo beach to test her mettle, to test my own, to see if I was flying with a great Truth or caught in the spokes of the bicycle advertising gnomes. Fuji proved her loyalty and put my fears to rest in one fell swoop. In a fast turn on our first ride, I leaned too hard and one of her long, graceful cranks caught the asphalt, sending me skittering down the concrete struggling to stay alive. I never questioned her again.
I tried to bargain her down in my broken Cantonese, but the store owner refused to budge at all. He just shrugged, knowing that another day, another week, a richer man would come along and take her unquestioningly. I reasoned, I argued, I threatened, but he was having none of it. Flushed and trying to save face, I stomped out of the store and onto the evening ferry home. I paced the deck uneasily, feeling wrecked and confused, and then moments before it left the dock, rushed off the boat and ran back into the bike store to tremblingly beg the owner’s forgiveness, pleading with him to let me pay full price for her. I felt like the worst jew in the world. I’d forsaken my religion and pride, and I climbed onto Fuji a broken man and tore off, racing my demons into the darkening mountains.
Now, courtesy of lizarddick, I walk the streets of Kowloon in a haze, watching the bikes chained to parking meters for signs of a quick paint job camouflaging her telltale look. I carry lockpicks with me everywhere and spend hours each night practicing, until I know I can break any bike lock I see, if I can only find Fuji locked up on a corner. I read the brands off the locks I pass and think of the picks, techniques, and the time it takes me to break my practice locks: Vise, rake pick, open in fifteen seconds. Tri-Zero, single pick, twenty seconds. Blue coil locks, single pick, but barely touch the tension wrench, minute and a half. I distractedly open padlocked water meters and storage sheds, but Fuji is nowhere to be found. As i walk through the weeks, my fists clench and my mind vulcanizes, rehearsing the fight I’ll have when I see the fuckwit riding her. Every muscle in my body is straining towards the release of a surprise tackle, Fuji skittering down the asphalt, me straddling a stranger in a busy road, knuckles bleeding and screaming in earnest, violent cantonese, “she’s my beautiful bike, she’s my beautiful bike!”
But I never found her. It’s been three weeks now, and I understand that she’s not coming back. But my heart still lights up when I see a flash of blue tubing in the street, the peculiar matte glint of steel rims. You might laugh at this, might call it foolish or obsessive or perverted. But for three months, Fuji and I were partners in our quest for freedom in a foreign and unfriendly world. They call it riding a bike. Fuck it, I call it love.