Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Great Ormo Bicycle Race


Did you know that Organ Mountain Food Co-op’s “front room” is sometimes used for bicycle racing? This is indeed a fact, and to prove it I’ll tell you about Ormo’s “Great Bicycle Race” which was held on November 28, 1980 and the air was alive with drama and excitement as the two cyclists, legs twitching with anticipation, mounted their Peugeots and Centurions and quickly took off when “Pfft!” went the starting signal and off they sped, elbow to elbow, gears clicking and clashing past piles of magazines and perilously close to the Glass Doors which fortunately did not open until after they had landed.

The cyclists left a shock wave vortex behind them which lifted little pieces of dirt and trash which danced like little butterflies in the center of the room. When plaster started to peel off the walls, however, we began to fear for the structural integrity of the very co-op building itself! Our fears were quickly confirmed when the cyclists kicked on the overdrive and the now-powerful vortex sucked up the entire co-op, bulk orders and all!

Like a cyclone out of Kansas, up and up the co-op flew, high over the streets of Las Cruces, and then rapidly northwestward. Dairy coolers tumbled below us like Space Shuttle debris. Cashiers clung to each other in dismay as bulletin boards went flapping by, announcements and proclamations ripping loose and sailing high into the distance. A centrifugal scatter of wheat berries drew great gangs of crows after their share of gravity’s cargo, destined as it was to end in a light sprinkle for the packrats and harvester ants in the desert far below.

(We will have to save the “UFO Sighting Reports” until later. Such fantastic things the ground crew saw! “Ma! Come quick! Jody says there’s a cloud of carrots in the sky!” Etc.)

Many questions sprang to mind: What would we tell the landlord? Would he believe us? Would his insurance cover such a loss? Would our insurance cover such a loss? Do we even have insurance? What will Tucson Cooperative Warehouse say, “Hoo-oo boy, Ormo’s done it again! Landed in the middle of the Uvas, huh? Had to walk back until the car caravan that the apologetic cyclists summoned came to rescue you, huh? Hoo-oo boy!”

But we get ahead of ourselves. For as soon as the quick-witted cyclists realized what was happening, to wit: “that their circular energies were in fact feeding the cyclone which held them aloft,” they swiftly learned how to modify and direct their energies, disposing of excess cargo all the way (it’s a lot of work, making a co-op fly!), eventually dropping everything except for the people and the Glass Doors, until they finally managed to set a somewhat-dizzy band of co-opers down in the middle of an amazingly-wild creosote flat next to a dirt road in the Sierra de las Uvas, a cluster of rugged desert mountains 20 miles northwest of Las Cruces, New Mexico.


“Aarghh! We’re tired!” cried the cyclists, clutching cramped muscles as they fell to earth.

You’re tired!” cried the co-opers in return, flicking dust off their derrieres. You ought to be... you got use here in the first place, you know!”

“But the Glass Doors! We saved the Glass Doors!” cried the cyclists, gesturing dramatically to the Glass Doors, which, sure enough, stood flapping slowly in the breeze behind them.

“Don’t change the subject!” cried the co-opers, all except for one of the managers, who, speechless (for once) with amazement, picked with furtive fingers at the cracked plastic of what was once a telephone.

“But the Glass Doors!” cried the cyclists. “We saved the Glass Doors!”

“But what about the Food for Health truck?” the co-opers persisted. “What are they gonna think when they pull up to a vacant lot and have to leave piles of yogurt all over the pavement?”

The cyclists, who by this time had been seized by a frenzy just as soon as their cramps had subsided enough to release all of that energy to their brains, jittered and jived all over the creosote flat, crying, “We saved the Glass Doors! We saved the Glass Doors! And think of what a valuable learning experience this is!” They sneaked up behind the Glass Doors and peeked through to the co-opers. “And think of what a valuable learning experience this is, since now here we are in the middle of the vast and mysterious desert!” they cried, springing at that moment through the Glass Doors and over to a creosote bush which they stroked with long slow strokes. “Vast and mysterious desert! And here is a creosote bush covered with fuzzy gray seeds and did you know that those seeds were once used by the original native peoples of this place?” A lifetime of energy was being released now as the cyclists shuffled and rocked, hopped and bopped around the Glass Doors, making intricate patterns among creosote bushes and clumps of grass. “The original native peoples of this place, and that’s us now, you know, out here in the middle of the vast and mysterious desert!”


As soon as the co-opers had been enchanted into silent desert rapture, the quick cyclists hopped back aboard their bikes (miraculously unscathed till now) and started cranking on down the road toward rescue, beating the hell out of their magnesium alloy rims as they bounced over, under, around and through the potholes and gullies of first the Choases Canyon Road and later the Magdalena Peak Observatory Road all the way to the Corralitos Observatory (the clear New Mexico skies spawn observatories) from whence they put out mysterious phone calls to their friends: “Drive out to the desert real quick and pick us up and save your questions till later, all right?”


Good hikers, those co-opers! Across hill and dale, through mesquite and thick gravel, here they come, aiming straight towards the red beacon of the “Relay Antenna Tower” light. (Them RAT lights are everywhere!) Despite the fact that it’s 9 p.m., and despite the fact that it’s rather chilly, and despite the fact that they’ve had no water for six hours, the co-opers are in good spirits, telling RAT stories, thirst jokes, etc. They’ve made it almost to the Observatory by now, and now a dramatic scene starts to unfold for us as the rescue caravan arrives.

Police, power lights flashing, have joined the caravan which is now climbing the last grade to the Observatory, headlights catching the white dome then moving on. The co-op band, a dark smudge on the horizon, is descending towards the Observatory as the caravan fans out in a ragged semicircle onto the parking lot. Headlights frame the spectacle like a low-key football game and cop lights stab random forays into the darkness. At this moment the co-opers stumble out into the light through snapping twigs and thorns which crackle and drag like the high fires of Pentecost.

And what about the cyclists? Are they sneaking around in the background, unsure of how the other co-opers will receive them? (The cyclists hadn’t even asked for consensus, after all!) Not at all, for they had biked right on back to the Landing Site and are right now in the process of RETRIEVING THE GLASS DOORS for us! Which is easier said than done. Holding the heavy Glass Doors between them, the cyclists carry on a low conversation as they return, generator headlights flickering feebly before them. “Why didn’t we think of this the first time?” they ask each other. Or they grunt and say, “Unngg this mother’s heavy!”

And right at the moment that the co-op band reaches the light and cries, “Water! Gimme water!” the cyclists pull up unnoticed at the edge of the proceedings and proceed to set up the Glass Doors which sparkle and glint and reflect empty gallon jugs of water back and forth among each other.

After much joshing around, the cyclists are finally integrated back into the group. “No worry! All is forgiven, cyclists! Bygones are byegones! We’ll do better next time, right?” And so the Glass Doors are loaded into a rusty old van and trucked back to the well-vacuumed co-op site and set back into place so a new co-op can be built around them... and they’re still there today—the famous Glass Doors of Organ Mountain Co-op!


Fortunately, the proposed 18-lap race ended in a dead heat after 2½ laps. People immediately came running in, making fluttering fanning motions towards the door. “Whenh!” they cried. “Get that dead heat outta here!” So the cyclists picked it up (at arm’s length) with their fingertips and carefully carried it out the back and across the parking lot to the vacant lot behind Valley Glass, where it eventually took root amid the trash and broken glass, and it’s doing quite well now, thank you!

Next Installment: The Hashish Tree


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

WOW... was that a dream? Where did that come from? Great Storytelling. I am consistently amazed at the sheer volume of diverse information caches and varied imaginations that not only manage space in your skull, but somehow find their way into print. I don't know how you do it. Clean livin' huh?

Thanks for the inspiration.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Gordon Solberg said...

Yeah, clean livin' and a good imagination!

The aboriginals call it the Dreamtime; Carl Jung called it the Collective Unconscious. It's evidently the place from whence creativity flows.

6:52 AM  

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