The Hot Lap

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Last night I did something I haven’t done in far too long.

In Flagstaff, we  used to call it the hot lap.

Just a damn spin around the neighborhood. Usually at night. Usually after a few beers. Often alone. Just for the goddamn fun of it.

The streetlights cast an odd pall. The flickering televisions inside the homes of the sedentary masses seem like airport landing lights, and I’m in flight. It’s the closest thing I get to complete peace these days. Times have gotten stressful and have stayed there, but I’ve got the hot lap.

There’s no such thing as serenity anymore, but there’s a bastardization of it. The day cools off enough to be pleasant, and without any hesitation, without the need to strap on a camelbak or tighten straps on my shoes (flip flops will do), without a helmet and without lights, there’s the hot lap, the quick push, the only way to truly tell if you’re still feeling anything at all. Unplugged. Un-politicized. No pay. No bills. No angle. No barter. Pedal over pedal. Rubber thwapping. Chain squealing.


The hot lap.



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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

32 Replies to “The Hot Lap”

  1. My hot lap was in the heat of the day on trail right from my door. It took 3 hours. It was fo reeel! It’s been a long time since my last local hot lap. I needed that shit. Now go get yours!

  2. Right on. I used to pedicab in Austin, and one of my favorite times was riding home from the garage at 3-4am. Riding home from downtown, everything was quiet. The only people out were the cleanup crews getting ready for another day. The drunks and assholes had all gone home and were about to be nursing the hangovers that I hoped they’d suffer. Places that had thousands of people during the day, were empty. Even after a hard night, I would take the long way home. It was the in-between time. A few miles to home. Too early for the early birds, too late for the party crowd. Little but me, the sound of my tires, and the few freaks left in the pre-dawn hours. The city was mine.

  3. My hot lap today was walking out to get the mail.

    I need a life. Or a beer. Either one works.

  4. Hot Lap! That has a very nice ring to it. Here it’s more of an out-and-back. A fast run down the bike path along the creek to the Pacific Ocean, feel the waves, smell the salt water and then hammer back. At times, the fog rolls in and it’s a rushing sensory deprivation tank all the way back home. No lights means you’re heads down, following the yellow line, occasionally with the paceline of drinking (now drunken) pals hammering behind – life distilled.

  5. I did a hot lap on my pants one time when I was riding my cruiser. That was terrible.

  6. What a great reminder of how much I miss my hot laps! Beer…check, bike…check, hot lap tonight.

  7. …hot lap…nice way to get a feel for stuff without all the riff-raff…

    …like bruce cockburn’s “…if i had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would pay…”, bikesgonewild’s tune is “…if i had a neutron bomb, i’d have a lot more room to play…”

  8. Dig the hot lap, Friday night requirement around here, and due to the fucking oppressive heat lately most weeknights too, tis the only time one can ride anymore….

  9. Ditto on the hot lap last night – flips flops on platforms, cotton shorts, and a cowboy shirt. I have to admit it was inspired by reading G. Petersons new book. After a few pages I felt the need to get out and “just ride”.

  10. Well said D2. The flask has been topped up. Tonight, in northern Alberta, we hot lap. Thanks for the push to stop watching random sports on TV.

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  12. Lately I have been waiting until sun down to go out and ride the 24″ DJ. No one around, relearning skills, listening to the rubber role and the hub sing. It is the best feeling around. Just me, a curb and my bike. we will see if I go for it tonight.

  13. Last time I did this I bent my derailleur hanger.

    Multiple races, no problem. Multiple skin-removing crashes while training, no problem. One kick-back mellow ride and one *ing stick = damn. Kind of took the mellow out of the evening.

    But I’d do it again.

  14. Thats it, I am out on the 1970s singlespeed German folder tonite down here in NZ winter. She has been in the closet way too long. Time to “bust” out 20″ dynamo lit minivixen with my FHS wrestling team flipflops gifted from Moenkopi when we did The Grand Dec 2011. It was a merry xmas.

  15. My hot laps used to be on the golfcourse trails take a couple of beers sit on the grass late at night.
    Once in a while get chased by the renta cops never got caught, no way.

    Miss that need to find a golfcourse neer by.

  16. love this. Next time I’m doing the hot lap I’ll think on this post and know I’m not alone.

    nice name too. I was still calling it the ‘whore-tour’ (pronounced in Canuck it rhymes) from when I was living in sketch hoods in Toronto and the ladies were out workin their corners.
    ‘Hot lap’ is much more civilized and representative of how those ride go now that I’m out of T.O.

  17. I need to start doing this, just for the simple joy of bring on the bike, no spd’s, jersey, bike shorts, gloves, helmet, just the I used to ride 35 years ago.

  18. Y’know, when I first read this post, I was just back from a 57-mile “hot lap” around Lake Washington, almost commented, but realized it was pointless.

    Yesterday, I rode ten miles of dead-flat, butter-smooth rail trail at an average pace under six MPH. I was riding wing man for my old climbing and skiing buddy JB, who ranks among the 6% or so who survive glioblastoma brain cancer. Dude rides a ‘bent trike with right-hand controls and he left it all out there on the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish. Now that’s a hot “hot lap.”

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