Velocipede Verses #13: The Lucky 13s - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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Velocipede Verses #13: The Lucky 13s

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I'm an avid cyclist who has ridden 29,000+ miles over the past seven years. I enjoy sharing the little I know with interested others.

velocipede-verses-13-the-lucky-13s

The Lucky 13s

In January 2009, I received military orders to Hawaii. Specifically, I received orders to go work for an old favorite boss as the Director of Air, Space and Information Operations for 13th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Pacific Command, Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. I was stationed there from January 2009–July 2011. While my family and I were there, we lived on base in a nice home on the channel that led into Pearl Harbor, and I rode my bike daily to and from work. I also went for longer rides on the weekends, rising early and heading to beautiful places all over the island. It’s no secret that the weather on Oahu is perfect for just about everything: most days it’s not too hot, and if it gets to be close to 60 degrees everyone thinks it’s freezing cold. For a guy from South Dakota, 60 degrees sounds like perfect baseball weather…anyway, after I’d lived on the island for some number of months riding my bike(s) on Saturdays, it came to pass that I was joined in my passion routinely by friends and coworkers from 13th Air Force. Many of us were Colonels in the Service, but our group grew over time to include folks of all ranks and shapes and sizes. Those were really good days of riding together as a team; many among us still talk fondly about them to this day.

We called ourselves the Lucky 13s...

velocipede-verses-13-the-lucky-13s

It started out as just me

On the island of Oahu

Weekly getaways

On the mornings of non-working days

From Pearl Harbor-Hickam

To Waikiki

Every Saturday I’d be

Up by five

On the road by six

My weekly fix

My passion a patch

I wore on my sleeve

My time all alone

On the bike

With no stress and no phone

My friends and subordinates

They all well knew

My sunrise ride

Predictable as the tide

Meet the sun

By eight be done

Then family fun

I Want to Ride My Bicycle...

And for many fine months this went on

Uninterrupted

Then one day a friend

A coworker

Colleague of mine

Asked to ride with me:

Mind if I go along next time?

When that he said

I thought in my head

This is me time

My only free time

I must be alone!

With others along

I won’t hear the drone

Of my wheels

On asphalt

And lubed chain over crank teeth

And sprocket

More humanly presence

Well, my world

It would rock it

And the stress

Of work talk

Just would not do

So I answered

With a question:

Will it only be you?

What I mean to say, I guess

I said to him then

Is if I say yes

Will you then bring more friends?

I’m asking for me

I believe’s what he said

And I acquiesced

Nodded my head

And never regretted it

Box and REL after a ride one Saturday morning

Box and REL after a ride one Saturday morning

It was for a time just two amigos

Then three very close amigos

DOM, Box and REL—the three amigos—on a sandy beach, northwest Oahu during one of our many, many outings...

DOM, Box and REL—the three amigos—on a sandy beach, northwest Oahu during one of our many, many outings...

And we’d go and we’d go

A trio on two-wheeled steeds

And work was far away

And not on our minds

One second of the time

In fact, sometimes the ride

Found its way

Into the workaday

Not just in water cooler talk

But we’d walk the walk

Ride at lunch

Eat at our desk

Like a brunch

Over keyboards and notepads

It wasn’t so bad

Indeed, it was great

velocipede-verses-13-the-lucky-13s

Then the conversation grew

And everyone knew

About the Lucky 13s

And our collective dream

To ride all the way ‘round Oahu

In a day

A Saturday

An excursion

An immersion

Of body and mind

Into wheels going round and round

Not a lot of other sound

For 110 miles

All the while

Grinning and bearing it

Wearing it, too, like a badge

Of honor when complete

And when we meet

That sixth day of the week

I can’t speak

Nearly welled

Emotions swelled

At the numbers who joined us

Wanna be part of the team

The Lucky 13s

And off we went

velocipede-verses-13-the-lucky-13s

I was so glad

Things changed

Forever rearranged

The arrangement

And on any given Saturday

We main three went

And others would join

Here and there

At times

Leaving promptly at six

And hitting Waikiki

Or Mount Tantalus

To challenge us

On occasion

Kind of raising

Our own different bit of hell

In heaven

On earth

We even had our own "gang sign" in the Lucky 13s...it was prominent in many of our group pictures over the years

We even had our own "gang sign" in the Lucky 13s...it was prominent in many of our group pictures over the years

The place many call Paradise

And it is for those who ride

Perfect year round

When you can hear that sound

Of wheels going round and round

And well-lubed chain over crank teeth

And sprocket

As you rock it

And roll it

Along

With the Lucky 13s

We rode as a team

Living the dream

Wishing it would never end…

REL, Corndog, DOM, Box near the top of Mt. Tantalus

REL, Corndog, DOM, Box near the top of Mt. Tantalus

The Lucky 13s in front of the HICKAM AFB sign near the Officer's Club and adjacent to the Pearl Harbor channel entry

The Lucky 13s in front of the HICKAM AFB sign near the Officer's Club and adjacent to the Pearl Harbor channel entry

© 2020 greg cain

Comments

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 07, 2020:

Sha - brotherhood is right on. It was indeed. Sadly, most of that crew live over on the east coast up in the DC, Virginia, Maryland area. We had a brief reunion two years ago when I went out to Salisbury, MD and rode in the Seagull Century with them. We keep in touch, but the magic of those days is mostly just a really great memory for now.

I see they’ve fixed the notification piece now, though it is too late for me to go back in time and publish this again. I found out after I hit publish that notices weren’t working because I’ve been following the comments on your HubPages 3.0 article daily. And so it goes...hey, thanks for seeking me out and checking in. Hope you’re having a great week. It’s been an interesting one, even by 2020 standards! Haha!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 07, 2020:

Box, this is my favorite Velocipede episode. I love the story and the setting. What started out as a lone joy ride ended up as a brotherhood. I'm sure you and your comrades have many wonderful memories to share. Do any of the Lucky 13 live near you now?

Our email notifications haven't been working since Saturday. Since I know you post quite often, I came to your page to see what you've been up to. So glad I did!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 07, 2020:

Anupam - Oh! Your comment made me want to get up and go early myself this morning: the music of the wind, the being free from all unwanted thoughts, or at least feeling like you can move away from them as fast as you want...I love all of that very much, too. I would say for me the key to my 100 KM rides—and I do one or two of them a month, I'd say—is to leave the house early in the AM. Where I live it does not get nearly so hot to melt me away, so the 100 KM rides are only horrible if the weather is a blizzard or rainstorm.

Thanks for taking time out to read the work, Anupam. I do appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful day.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 07, 2020:

Linda - yes, they were and they are! Great group of guys. We did some really good and important work while we were in Hawaii, but the best, most lasting memories from our time there are those of days spent in the saddle riding alongside the Lucky 13 comrades.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on October 06, 2020:

Wow, loved this poem. Excellently composed and I could related that with myself when I used to be a regular cyclist.

I too had a few great rides with my cyclist friends and those are the best of my memories.

I have gone for many 20 and 50km rides but just 3 100 km ride and 1 almost 200 km ride. but they were horrible, since then only I stopped cycling, it looked suicidal to me cycling in intense heat and that too on slopy road.

But the truth is I love cycling, I love the wind slapping my face and the road moving along with me. I love the music of the wind and accompany that with my whistles. I just feel like in some heavenly world free from all unwanted thoughts and wish to live that moment of cycling.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 06, 2020:

Your poem contains a lovely story of friendship. The Lucky 13s sounds like a great group.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 06, 2020:

Hey ReadMikeNow, it’s also an early English word for bicycle. I was not sure of the origin but I do know it was used for any two-wheeled contraption in the early days of bikes. Thanks for dropping by to give this work a look.

Readmikenow on October 06, 2020:

Interesting article. Velocipede is the Ukrainian word for bicycle. Are you Ukrainian?

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 06, 2020:

Yes, Peggy! That’s exactly right. I think there was a time I thought nothing could best my alone time or the grandeur of solitude. These rides with the L13s proved me wrong, of course. Thanks for the words and for giving it a look. Much appreciated. Hope you have a wonderful week.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2020:

It sounds like your solitary ride turned into one of comradery and fun for many. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.