Shooting The Rapids On Cesar Chavez
by Sheila Bishop


When I sold my car, a red '94 Ford Tempo, in April 1997, I still worked at a non-profit down the Peninsula. I often biked or bused to the 22nd Street Caltrain Station, but it wasn't until I no longer had an option to drive that I got my ass in gear and rode my bike nearly everyday.

The ride on Cesar Chavez is not pleasant, the worst part is "the rapids." Shooting the rapids requires concentration and chutzpah. I talked myself through it: Turn left onto Chavez from Bryant. Okay, now push! Pedal superfast! Get past the entrance ramp for 101 South before the light changes. Sail down the little hill past the Bayshore South turn off. At the bottom, when the pedals have absolutely no resistance pedal furiously up the tiny little hill, race past the junction of Bayshore North and Chavez East and cross to the right as quickly as possible.

Breathe.

Anyone who has biked back from the 22nd Street Station in the afternoon knows that the interchange is not as bad on the westbound side. But there is a long, slow ride up a hill into serious afternoon head winds.

Oddly enough, the craziness of Chavez concentrated my mind wonderfully. The challenge of navigating the 101 interchange cleared out dank, depressed thoughts. I hated my job. I worked in an emotionally Òtoxic workplace,Ó and I thought I never would be able to make a living as an artist. Propelling myself physically got me moving mentally and emotionally. I quit my crappy job and launched a business. I don't miss riding on Chavez, and I sometimes miss having a car. But selling my car and biking on Chavez healed my work-battered soul.