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Singing in the rain

Friday July 20th.

It has been cold and rainy all week. I didn't show for my 12 to 8 pm shift on Wednesday, rationalizing: Who would want a tour in an unrelenting downpour? And, besides, what would I wear? (A question bedevilling many a woman facing new circumstances.)  Many riders haven't shown this week.

On Thursday, Randy calls me on my cellphone.

"Hey Annie-baby, got some news for you."

Chico in the rain
He is trying to sound upbeat.

"I'm discounting all leases 50 per cent through to Sunday on account of the weather. There's good money to be made.  Lots of tourists out there."

Randy signs off: "Can't talk now, darlin' -- got at least 20 more calls to make."

The lucrative Friday afternoon shift, with two big cruise ships scheduled, is now only $35. What the hell. Outfit decision: quickdry kayak pants, Kabuki T-shirt, Kabuki sweatshirt, and 100% waterproof sailing rain jacket. I pack other options in my hold should the weather change.

I am so overheated in my weatherproof gear that within in a couple of blocks of pedalling I soon strip to kayak pants, t-shirt and light, breathable (but not waterproof) cycling shell.  Exertion makes dampness evaporate like water on a griddle. After a few rides I put the shell away for bare arms.

"Tell me you are not freezing?" says one women as I sit outside the Empress completely comfortable in my t-shirt. From Southern  California, she is bundled in a fluffy ski jacket , her husband swathed in gortex, umbrellas over their heads. "We find this awfully chilly," she says.

I haven't had time to get cold. Amazingly, this dreary, dark wet day is shaping up to be my best day yet. (Sorry readers, no pictures by me - didn't want to ruin my digital camera in the rain. Visualize it: dark brooding skies, intermittent cloud bursts,  with new squalls of rain always on the horizon, black umbrellas opening and closing repeatedly on the causeway. Thanks to Terry Wiens, of Victoria Pedicab Tours, for sharing his photos with me. )

Terry's ride outside the Empress
I do one ride after another, and not just taxi rides but Fisherman's Wharf tours and Old Town/Chinatown tours. Clients hail from Florida,  South Carolina, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, San Jose, Kelowna, Vancouver. Most of the other pedicab riders go out to meet the two cruise ships -- the Golden Princess and Oosterdam are docking again on their regular Friday night call.  I decide to stay in the Inner Harbour and practically have it all to myself for two hours. I am pedalled off my feet in short taxi rides.  And just after 7 pm,  I even get a tour with a cruise ship couple who flag me in the Inner Harbour. I make $120 over lease. It is the first time yet I have cleared more than $10 an hour.

But one problem: during my last few rides my bike gears seem to be failing. I suddenly have no light gear. Hills become a struggle again. "I am sorry," I tell my last cruise ship clients from Olympia Wash. "My gears don't seem to be working properly."  I take them the flatter Wharf St. route.

"My lightest gear quit near the end," I tell Andy Johnston, the repair whiz, as I fill out my shift report.

He chuckles. "You'd be surprised how many riders tell me that."865312-996715-thumbnail.jpg
Andy in his repair corner

He checks over the gears on my cab. "Nope, the gears are fine. It's your legs."

No way! But when I get on my bike to ride home, I know he is right. My legs are shot. Cycling home, usually a breeze compared to cabbing, feels burdensome.  My muscles are wobbling in protest as I climb my house stairs. My butt aches. I can hardly stay awake for dinner. I take a hot bath in Epsom salts and fall asleep in the bath. When I finally get into bed it is 9:30 pm. So much for the exciting night life of a pedicab driver.

Posted on Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 02:19PM by Registered CommenterAnne | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

I can't believe I called you "Annie-baby"....oh my. At least you had your best shift to date. See you soon.
July 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRandal Phipps

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