James the Dog

Two ears are flapping up and down in the wind, following a wet nose and running like crazy on all fours - two on the handle bars, two on the peddles. Just for the love of it. James the dog was a mountain bike rider.. .
Life was good to James, he had all that he ever wanted; beautiful countryside, all the food he could eat, success in his endeavors, and his bed was a warm, comfy blanket of moth eaten 'cuddle me'. Life was good to James because James was good to life.. .he believed in it; he was true to his dog nature and he gave back to life by living as much of it, as fully as a dog could. But James knew that belief and betrayal are bed fellows. Ride it hard whilst the riding's good because there's something dark around the corner, something waiting behind this big rock.

Bounding over 'whoops', jumping up at 'table tops', and barking at the 'single track' with his tongue hanging in the wind, trailing a dodge of saliva in his wake. That's where he got his name from his riding buddies - 'James the Dog'. All through his life he never knew when he was doing it - hanging his tongue out. He was teased about it as a child and it hurt a lot then.. .the names and the jokes. Kids don't let up sometimes. And if you're the type to stand alone then you're vulnerable to the mob, and the mob will happily leave you in tears. James would step into his BMX bike and peddle like crazy until they were far behind him, his mind only a whirl of knobbly rubber on pavement - the still air bending to a cleansing wind in the face of his forwards locomotion, the looking glass would yield and the world would vanish to a pin prick over his shoulder. Even as an adult; when a friend would inquire after his habit, the small child in James would wince and shrink into a corner - yearning for his peddles. He would change the subject as soon as he could, pasting a laugh and a casual smile over the hurt.

And so James was fast.. .really fast! Pumping every dip for speed and cranking against his peadles and bars like a dog in a fight. Perhaps he's still running from something, and maybe he'll alwayse be, until he meets that dark shadow on his trail. But for now the name fits, this time it's right and it seems like the pain has come full circle and given way to reason. A reason for life. Ups and downs.. .pain and happiness, cycles and bi-cycles of good and bad that start as a deadly roller coaster in childhood. The older we get the smoother the ride and then you die.. .freewheeling towards the grave. The roller coaster is what keeps us alive. In contrast lies perception and life distilled into the trail. 'Give me contrast and give me the trail' James thinks to himself as he drops his weight into a loose corner. His back wheel gives, but he deals and sticks the front through the turn.

Pump the dip, thread these trees, spin hard, pump, pump, peddle dodge.. .'oh god no!' The trail betrays him, or he betrays the trail.. .there's no way of really knowing who's to blame. 'But it's not about blame.' he reminds himself - 'Sometimes I just have to find my own way, to stand alone'. And in the blink of an eye James and the trail separate for just a moment, and James is flying off of the side of a steep ravine that drops into a shallow rocky brook. 'This is going to hurt a lot' he thinks, 'I might not be able to ride for weeks or even months'. But flight is freedom too.. .

. ..Jame's tongue is dangling in the wind and his face is bright and charged of life, he's as free as a bird, he's James the Dog.

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