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20140518_081806

Wednesday, 06/04/86

Greg Valentine had been at the apartment pool Tuesday evening and Joe had actually managed to remember the name of the tall, slender auburn haired woman he’d introduced them to Monday night. Naomi was stunning in a coltish fashion but what really made her stand out in Joe’s mind was how she seemed to look deeply into him when they had spoken together. After they got home from the pool he’d said to Misty, “That Naomi! Wow!”

“Hmmm. Yeah, I can see that,” Misty had replied without a trace of apparent jealousy. “Wonder if he’ll keep her around. He really likes to play the field. I got the info on your noon bike ride. We should probably leave here a little after eleven or so to make sure we’re there on time.”

“It takes that long to get to Buckhead!? Where is this place?”

“Pretty much due south. It can’t be more than 15 miles, probably more like twelve but I don’t want to be late and there’s usually a signup sheet and all that, isn’t there? I figure 11:15 is about as late as we should leave.”

“Okay, boss. You know your way around here a lot more than I do.”

*****

Wednesday morning had seen a lazy start to their day and Misty and Joe had spent much of it lounging in their double bed reading, drinking coffee and simply enjoying being together. Joe had hated the almost five month separation they had experienced when Misty moved to Atlanta in January and hoped they’d never be apart for extended periods again. “Misty,” he said to her, putting his book down, “please don’t leave me again. I hated not seeing you all that time.”

“’Leave you again’? I didn’t leave you, Joe I did what? Reconnaissance work? And it’s not as though it was four months without contact. You flew down twice and I made it up twice plus our wedding of course. You know, it’s a long ride from Atlanta to Brewster.”

“Yeah! Long with both of us driving, let alone all by yourself! And it was really five months. All of January through all of May.”

“Hmmm. Yeah, maybe not all but you’re right. I’m sorry, J.K. I hope to never do it again. At least you had friends and family around, I was all alone.”

“I wrote you. And we talked every weekend.”

“I know you did, better than I did to you! Sorry, just not a letter writer I guess. Hey, is the tandem ready? We should probably eat and start thinking about heading to the ride pretty soon, it’s after ten.”

“Wow, it is! Tandem’s ready. I pumped up the tires last night and she’s good to go. All we need to do is fill some water bottles, grab our gear and load her up on the roof rack.”

They traveled south on Roswell Road until they arrived at West Paces Ferry where they turned west. The strip mall was only a block and a half from the busy road that led to Cimarron Apartments and Misty’s prediction for travel time hadn’t been far off: It took them about 25 minutes to drive the 14 miles from home to the Challenge Cyclery store and once there they unloaded the Santana Elan from the Cavalier’s roof.

The parking lot was about half full and as Joe and Misty put their helmets on in preparation of the ride about a dozen or so riders stood near the shop’s entrance or slowly circled the lot. At a little before noon a dark haired, slender man with round, wire rim glasses wheeled a Schwinn Paramount bike from the store’s entrance, saw Misty and Joe, leaned his bike against a wall and walked over to them. “Hi! I’m Pete Peacock,” he said, extending his hand, “the ride leader. You guys are new here, right?”

“Yeah,” Joe answered, shaking his hand. “I’m Joe and this is Misty. We’re new in town and a friend told us about your ride. He thought we’d enjoy it.”

“Oh, great! Nice to meet you. Always like to see fresh faces. Uh, I don’t have a ride map. I know that’s silly but we just haven’t needed it. Do you know your way around?”

“Not at all, “Misty answered. “Would it be better if we came back another time?”

“No, no! I’ll be sure to keep an eye on you guys. You ready?”

Misty and Joe looked at each other shrugged and Joe said, “Sure?”

“Cool,” he said to them before raising his voice. “Okay, everybody. Time’s a wasting! Let’s roll!”

The cyclists took off slowly in a tight knot and headed east. Everyone was decked out in cycling jerseys and shorts and over a third of the riders had Look pedals while the rest sported toe-clips and straps. Only one other rider besides Misty rode with touring rather than cleated racing shoes and the pack was quiet and focused. Joe said to Misty, “It’d be nice to be able to afford two more pairs of Look clipless pedals, wouldn’t it? Maybe for Christmas.”

“Maybe, but these are fine, Joe. This is exciting, isn’t it?”

As the ride continued the excitement intensified. The leisurely pace picked up and soon Misty and Joe were breathing hard and had to push themselves to keep up on the uphill sections. Pete allowed the pack to roll in front of him and he said to Joe, “Looking good. Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Thanks. This thing doesn’t climb real well.”

“No, tandems don’t usually do real well uphill. Fast the rest of the time though. We have some traffic lights up ahead so keep your eyes open.”

The traffic lights put an end to Joe and Misty’s group jaunt. They had hung out at the back of the ride group and when the lights changed from green to amber to red Joe had stubbornly tried to hang on until the third time when the lead rider ran through a red light. “Shit,” Joe had said under his breath. “Now what?”

“Don’t be upset, Joe. It’s okay.”

“Oh, yeah? Do you know how to get back to the car?”

“No. Good point.”

Joe was getting angry for having been left behind without a ride map and anxious about how he’d find their car when he saw Pete circling back towards them. “Hey! Sorry!” The other man hollered to them when he was within earshot. “I told the other guys to go on ahead. Come on, I’ll ride with you!”

“Hmm,” Misty said in Joe’s ear, “maybe there is something to Southern Hospitality!”

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