I will not forget the feeling of pedalling up Sunwapta Pass. Feeling was all there was. Pain feeling. And the feeling of being alone and in a test of will against that switchbacked ramp of asphalt and stone between Banff and Jasper. Out of gears now. And now just trying to keep a semblance of cadence. Passing automobiles heaved. I could hear them working from behind and then watched as they moved alongside and out of sight. Don't look up! Look down. The vicious slope is not as obvious looking straight down. Look down, look down. So, I looked at cracks in the pavement and at wooden guardrail posts and shards of shiny glass. I watched tiny pieces of highway gravel inch backward as I pedalled ahead, knees straining, lungs stretching. Wheels turned like second hands. Eternal alpine grandeur surrounded me—and I watched gravel and glass go by. I measured my progress in bits of glass and gravel. My heart pounded. Legs turned. I breathed staccato: in-in-in-out. My Miyata 1000 kept going. …
I cannot forget the price the guy sitting behind the cash register in the now long-gone used book store near the south end of HUB Mall on the University of Alberta campus put on my nostalgia.
He took a quick look at the front and back of the album I had just handed him. His left thumb rippled the pages back to front. He was considering.
"That'll be 75," he said, looking up.
I met the valuation with a mask of nonchalance. Inside, I felt slight despair. I knew I couldn't afford 75 bucks for the Esso Power Player Saver sticker album. I had collected the stickers as a seven-year-old kid growing up in the NHL hinterland of Edmonton. Each packet contained six stickers of pro hockey stars: Orr, Perrault, Parent, Esposito, Keon and the rest of the immortals whose images were broadcast into our living room on Saturday nights, and who we pretended to be playing road and table hockey. I would coax my father and grandpa to gas up at Esso where they could then buy for me a pac…
The elements came together. Rainbow, shining birds, stormy and clear sky, light, dark, river, bicycle, the University of Alberta, a man with orange hat, arms crossed, standing in witness. In the bottom right corner a kind of shadow signature.
I thought: How lovely it is to know how to ride a bicycle so that you can easily stop riding a bicycle and stand and watch a rainbow when your heart tells you to stop and watch a rainbow.
I took the picture and then took a chance.
"Hello," I said to the man with the orange hat. He took an earbud out of his right ear. "Hi. I took a pic and you might like it and if you do, here, take my phone and email it to yourself."
He looked at the picture and smiled and said wow or that's cool and he took the offered device and entered his email address. While this was was happening, my friend Maryanne recorded the scene of two men, two rainbows, one phone.