Ehime Roadster

Jen uses some colorful language in this month’s post, so if you find swearing offensive, look away now. 

I named her Pig, as a joke. I bought her almost a year ago, even going through the pain of raising my credit limit to get her. She is beautiful, in her own way, though I wish she were bigger. Her shiny black coat catches the last of daylight.

The weather is better now, so I can take her out for rides more often. I sweep the dust and spider webs off her. This is the part that I hate the most. My throat dries out and my awareness sharpens. I hope that I don’t find any arachnids hiding near the engine, under the splashguards, or in the wires that connect to the handles. God forbid that one crawls on my bare hands when I’m going almost twice the speed limit and there’s another car less than three feet to my right. As I continue inspecting, I have a flashback to last summer when I found a spider larger than my palm hiding in the cup holder. I peek in, my goose bumps feeling as though they are bulging, and see only an old leaf that fell last winter.

Enough of this. My boyfriend is waiting. I turn her on and roll down the steep hill to the main road. I look both ways and rev the engine twice, not because I need to, but because I like to pretend I’m riding a motorcycle. Instead of the powerful rumble that comes from my friend’s Harley, my scooter lets out a whiny death rattle. How embarrassing.

I zip down 197, still pretending I’m on a motorcycle and going twenty over the scooter limit, but I am soon passed by cars going ten over theirs. My fantasy is ruined. Instead, I pass the time by humming, trying to match pitch with my engine, accelerating to find the higher notes and decelerating to match with the lower ones.

I can feel the moisture in the air; it will rain soon. I can smell the blooming yellow trees higher in the mountain: their disgusting, empty, wet, seminal odor descending into the valley, filling it. I hate this smell. It’s been like this for almost a month.

Then, there it is: the tunnel. The first tunnel I’ve scooted through, almost a year ago. The first time, it was only my third or fourth ride on Pig and I wobbled through it, speeding up and slowing down as my nerves dictated. Every car that gained on me seemed to want to kill me, and I didn’t have the confidence to stay on the edge of the road without losing my balance and getting run over by the van next to me or breaking my spine on the curb. Yes, I was that person. The one everybody hates when they drive their cars. On my 50cc scooter, I took up half of the lane so nobody could pass—and potentially kill me—unless the next lane was empty.

But I’ve long since become accustomed to riding in tunnels. For the most part. I stay in my place, riding along the outer edge of the road while cars pass me, some without their headlights on. But then there is silence. I look behind me. There is something in the distance. Perhaps I could get out of the tunnel before it catches up to me. Then I hear a rumble. A light must have turned green somewhere up the road. Cars come quickly from the other direction. And I realize the thing behind me is a semi.

Holy shit.

It is gaining on me quickly, and I’m not getting to the end of the tunnel at the same rate. It catches up with me, my heart rate peaks, the monster in the dark slows down, its engine scoffing. The combustion of the pistons and cylinders is a hot breath on my neck.

I finally get out, dipping at the seam where road meets tunnel, and ride down the shoulder knowing that if the semi doesn’t pass me quickly enough, the little potholes in the road might throw me off balance. I begin chanting to calm myself:

Don’t shit yourself.

Don’t shit yourself.

Don’t shit yourself.

Don’t shit yourself.

I let off the accelerator and feel relief flood my extremities, getting a little high as the truck slowly passes. That’s the worst of it.

The cold nips at me through the rest of my ride, the tunnels providing a cocoon of polluted warmth. My hand, constantly keeping my speed steady, seems to suddenly become aware of its position on the accelerator and feels uncomfortable. I try to shift it without slowing down too much. My back, I notice, is tense. I lengthen my spine and lower my shoulders. Breathe in, breathe out.

I always intend to meditate while riding. Think about nothing. Clear my head. Cleanse my soul. Instead, I think of silly jokes, try to sing with my engine, and contemplate my next big move while picturing what my CrossFit body would look like if I actually had the time. Would I have a six-pack of even squares, or the kind that zig zags?

Twenty minutes of this ridiculousness if I’m speeding. Twenty-five if I’m not, or if there’s traffic. Finally, I get to his house.

That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.

Jennifer Cerna is an American ALT and personal trainer from the Midwest who has lived in Japan for a total of six and a half years. In her free time, she likes to pursue creative hobbies, watch movies, travel, exercise, cook, and #ridefree.

Disclaimer: The Mikan and Ehime AJET do not condone or encourage breaking the speed limit, in Japan or elsewhere. Stay safe kids.

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