Bryan had nearly five hours to himself before Sandy would meet him for a run. As much as he reveled in their time together, exploring her inside and out, learning new ways to grow and see the world, he was finding that a fulltime girlfriend made everything different- mostly better, but decidedly different. Thus far April had delivered incredible weather and he had spent far less time riding his bike than he had planned. That wasn’t so bad, at least they were doing active things together like her group fitness class and hiking, but he was also neglecting his reading, which bothered him quite a bit.
“Well,” he told himself as he turned out of her driveway and headed into Rapida Cedro, “I guess I can’t cram 24 hours of doing stuff into a 24 hour day. Gotta’ sleep sometime.”
The changes that had occurred in his life in the past week were almost beyond description. It was mind boggling what had transpired since April fourth! A single Saturday ago he had been alone, withdrawn, barely holding on, and today he was excited, uplifted and moving forward with his life. “’To everything turn, turn, turn.’ I gotta’ admit things have definitely been turning better and better.”
A bicycle trail on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in April is a busy place and fabulous weather in early spring brings people out who likely haven’t ridden in months, maybe years. Bryan decide the streets were a safer option for him than the cavalcade of myopic, self-centered riders, bladers, runners, dog walkers and stroller pushers that no doubt currently clogged the ribbon of recreational asphalt he frequented.
With five hours to kill Bryan debated between a short ride and more reading time and a long ride. The beautiful weather held sway and he decided to make a big clockwise loop around town. Sandy’s house was at about six o’clock on his route map and he turned left onto O Avenue as usual but he then turned left again at Ellis Boulevard and headed north.
Ellis ran parallel to the snake like Cedar River and after a few miles he crossed over Edgewood Road and it headed predominantly westward rather than northerly. Ellis was a pleasant and fairly low speed road and this time of year there were no cars pulling water craft in their wake. Bryan was thankful that he had ridden big blue as opposed to ‘Ol Red as the terrain around the river was far hillier than it was on the converted railroad bed he usually road on. “Chalk one up for multi-speeds,” he said as he stopped at the Covington Road intersection. The low key meanderings of Ellis Boulevard changed to straight and narrow high speed travel as he ventured out on the rural thoroughfare that led him to a much less busy road a few miles later. Thankful to get off of the fairly busy Covington Road he turned right onto First Street in the flood prone town of Camp Cedar.
W36, or First Street, changed names frequently as he rode north, first to Palo Marsh Road, then Lewis Bottoms and then to Lewis Access Road as it headed into the town of Center Point. W36 ended where it intersected with 920 and the name on the street sign now read Franklin Road. Franklin took Bryan to the abandoned railroad depot that had been converted to a way station for weary riders and hikers on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and he exited the road’s asphalt and headed south on the crushed limestone trail. Bryan knew this trail well and was happy to see the return to asphalt three miles later when the trail crossed Schultz Road.
The trail around Center Point was seldom busy and his sightings of other trail users were few and far between for another two miles and he crossed over Alice Road making his way to ‘The Oasis of The Trail’ at mile marker seven. Legend had it that entrepreneurs had once manned a little refueling station there, selling food and drinks to trail users, but in the twenty years he could remember back to Bryan had never seen anyone offering wares to weary riders. The further south he went the busier the trail became and his final four miles were clogged with the very trail users he had hoped to avoid.
After fifty miles of riding it was just before three by the time Bryan got home, showered and ate. With about an hour and a half to himself he decided to do some quick internet searches on Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde, Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He found the information on Fitzgerald the most fascinating because it was as though ‘The Great Gatsby’ was a fantasy autobiography. It was funny that when they had studied ‘Gatsby’ in school his teacher had not mentioned the parallels between Nick/Gatsby and F. Scott. Then again, maybe MS Frye had and he hadn’t been listening!
Searching for information on Anne Sullivan he found details that coincided with ‘The Miracle Worker’ as well as a 1930 vintage newsreel of Helen and Annie on YouTube. Learning of the heights to which Helen climbed later in life he came to a better understanding of Sandy’s admiration for Miss Keller.
Searching for information about Wilde and Turing Bryan discovered that both men, incredible geniuses that they were, seemed to believe that they were above the rules and regulations for common folk. He found it terrible that both men had died as a result of a repressive legal system that imprisoned people for having sexual relations with the wrong person while parallel activity with women was either ignored or glorified. “Killed by hypocrisy,” he said to himself as he turned off the computer. “Terrible way to die.”
Satisfied that he had expanded his mental horizons at least a little bit that day he checked to make sure there were no messages on his phone and let his head fall back on the coach’s pillows. He figured he had fifteen minutes before Sandy would arrive and a tiny cat nap was just the thing he needed to refresh himself and let his newly gleaned information sink into his long-term memory. “’Do you suffer from long-term memory loss? I don’t remember,’” he sang to himself. “Goodnight, Chumbawumba. No Tubthumping until after my nap,” and he closed his eyes and willed himself into a state of relaxed slumber.
Bryan’s phone rang four times and was about to go to voice mail when he realized that it was ringing and that he needed to answer. “Hello?” he slurred.
“Bryan? You busy? I just pulled into your parking lot. The back parking lot. I hate to be such a big baby but will you come get me?”
“Hey, Cassie. I’ll be right down. I must have fallen asleep after my ride. Give me sixty seconds.”
“No worries. I’ll wait in the car,” she answered.
Bryan grabbed his keys, locked his door and trotted downstairs to the rear parking lot. The lot held plenty of cars but seemed void of people other than Cassie who waved to him, picked up her ubiquitous red gym bag and then exited and locked her vehicle. “Hi, sweetness!” she said, kissing him. “I’m sorry to make you come down here. I feel like a child.”
“No, no. Please! It just means I get to see you that much sooner. Do you have what you need? How was your open house?”
Sandy held up her gym bag and said, “Yep. It was pretty good traffic wise. Clients think open houses make sales, and they did, before I was born! Mostly it’s a waste of my Saturday afternoon but that’s why I get paid the big bucks. Yuck! I’ve been standing around doing nothing physical for hours. Ready for our run?”
“You bet. Let’s get you changed and we’ll go. Show starts in what? Three hours?”
“Yep. Let’s just run down to Fratinoj and back, that’ll be a little over two miles and we have that lovely hill coming back. Then we can get back to my place and get ready for our night, okay?”
“Perfect,” he answered as he unlocked the back door and they ran up the fetid stairwell and entered his apartment.