Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Puerto Rican bikers love runners

Photo by: Benedict J. Fernandez
My friend Kip was talking on DailyMile about running late at night in rough city neighborhoods. I have some experience of that. I often run late at night in my neighborhood which has it's scary moments. I have lived here for so long, I forget how much that I have tuned out. I told Kip about a memorable evening of running where what some would regard as a scary situation turned into something quite motivational. I live in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. It has a lot of gang activity. The neighborhood is mixed but it is predominantly Puerto Rican. That is changing slowly. I was running down Division toward a bar that is a hang-out for Puerto Rican bikers. They were all over the sidewalk (which is pretty wide) with their bikes parked out front. I didn't want to look obviously chicken and run into the street, so I noticed a pocket between them and ran through it at a good clip. One biker who didn't see me coming said something as I ran through them which drew all of their attention to me. I wasn't expecting trouble because they were a bunch of grown men having drinks and minding their own business. What happened though was unexpected and made me smile. One of them shouted "You go man!" and then they all started chanting things like "Good for you man - you go!". As I ran, I gave them a fist in the air as a salute and I swear my pace significantly improved. That weird little interaction lifted my spirits. Now, every time I see them, I hope for a repeat. It hasn't happened since then. Most of the time, I am invisible to them - just some nut who runs. I mentioned in a previous post about a man I know that was shot while he was training. I'm not scared of my neighborhood or the people in the street. I'm just scared of random acts of cruel violence.
Metal Puerto Rican flag above Division St.

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