Bike Rides: Trick or Treat

Published 6:45 pm Friday, October 28, 2011


Recently I experienced a dreadfully spooky bike ride in Sioux Falls, S.D. I wasn’t too far down the city trail before this strange feeling came over me, a sixth sense you might say, that I wasn’t completely alone.

It was another biker just to the east and slightly to the north; a dark, tall figure eerily keeping pace with me exactly on a separate gravel road paralleling the trail. I tried to stay focused on the ride, but my curiosity and fear were collectively getting the better of me.

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Time and time again we’d catch one another trying to snag a glimpse of each other, only to turn our heads away abruptly before our eyes ever actually met.

After several miles of playing cat and mouse, I pulled into a park to use the restroom and to give my mysterious companion the slip.

That’s when something very, very strange happened. Behind my own hulking image in the bathroom mirror my bike suddenly appeared, which I’d certainly left parked only seconds ago just outside the bathroom door.

Abruptly I turned around to look and just as quickly as I turned my bike disappeared again.

“How could this be?” I thought to myself, a panicky sweat now beading on my forehead. I stepped nervously forward then pivoted on my foot quickly 180 degrees, and there stood my Raleigh behind me again, but only showing in the mirror…

One more time I turned around and one more time my bicycle seemed to vanish right before me. Frantic now I ran from the restroom searching for my possessed bike when I discovered to my horror a large, hard faced, dictionary definition, stranger danger now perched stiffly over the seat of my Raleigh staring straight forward with an absolutely dead look in his eye.

I froze. He didn’t move.

We sat there challenging one another to see who would flinch first. I’ve stood down some pretty tough looking characters in my day, but none has ever appeared as cold and imposing as this hard-jawed looking fellow now boldly straddling my own mountain bike right before me.

I was scared all right, but that was my Raleigh rightfully, and I reckon you already figured out I wouldn’t be writing this story if it ended with me going back to the hotel horseless and pride-less. I mean after all what’s mine is mine, right?

Tentatively but determined, I moved closer. He remained stone faced. So I stepped forward again, close enough to see he was wearing some kind of identification badge, with perhaps some gang related insignia: “E.A. Sherman.”

“Yo, E.A,” I said finally, unsure where the courage was even coming from now. “Hand over the bike.”

He stood his ground, and I began to lose my patience, raising my hand a little.

Swat! I finally slapped Mr. Sherman across the face, boldly determined to get my bicycle back or die trying.

The peculiar stranger just stood there, expressionless and cold as ever.

Smack! I punched him square in the jaw with a nasty, Mike Tyson-esque left hook.

Still he stood there coldly. It was like smacking galvanized steel; his jaw was so stiff I had to rub my sore fist right afterward.

Now I knew I would either have to play my whole hand, or cut and run, so I escalated to a level I reserve for only the most dangerous of circumstances.

ZZZZT! ZZZZT! Out of left field I gave him the two finger eye poke, otherwise known in the world of the Three Stooges as “the business.”

At last, the distraction was enough for me to pull the bike from his vice like grasp. Once the wheels were back in my possession, I wasted no time saddling-up and galloping out of the park.

A couple of miles later I finally breathed a sigh of relief, hoping I’d seen the last of old E.A Sherman and his bag of tricks. The sun was beginning to set and I was ready to get back to the hotel and call it at day.

But, once again I had the same strange feeling I was not on this ride alone. Just to my north and east appeared the stranger who was riding beside me earlier, looking even larger and more intimidating than before.

The confrontation in the park with the gang-banger had already sapped my daily reserve of courage. Instead of engaging with another adversary, I decided to check the creepers bike handling skills, accelerating, decelerating, and weaving back in forth with everything my 40 years of bike riding experience had to offer.

Finally when I reached my hotel I felt I was alone again. I locked my bike up using the largest bike lock ever and went straight for my room, just in case old E.A. Sherman or the stalker made another appearance.

Stepping into the bathroom to wash my face I heard the distinct sound of slowly running water. An icy chill ran down my spine so electric it split my toes inside my shoes as I checked the bath and saw nothing.

And then, when I turned to the sink and looked in the mirror… there it was again, my bike!

“Ahhhh!” I screamed in horrifying terror.

The Raleigh was right there behind me on its rear tire standing in the shower with ice cold water running all down it slowly.

This time I couldn’t get away, and that night, there was a full moon…

Traffic Tip: I can back up every event described in this month’s column with photographic proof that it happened exactly how it’s written. Just visit the new Bike Rides website and see for yourself:

In fact, the whole story will make a lot more sense of you visit and reread it there. I dare you!

Thanks for screaming along.


Dan Urlick is an Austin resident and his column appears in the Herald once a month.