On days that I go to work (That’s only three or four per week.) I perform a little fitness routine. I’ll do some lower body stretching and classic strength exercises like push-ups, planks and various forms of crunches, follow that up with an exciting bicycle ride where I circle my .97 mile long block for ten or twelve times and then go for a quick 2/10 mile swim in my pool. The whole thing takes a little over an hour and is an enjoyable and healthful start to my day.
My block circling bicycle is a decade old recumbent that was built for comfort rather than speed. Aboard it I sit upright, hands at shoulder height and head held high so I can keep my eyes peeled for people backing out of their driveways without a care or clue. Backing into the street without looking first seems to be taken for granted around here but then again, maybe it’s just me.
Friday the 14th I was circling in my counter-clockwise, no stop sign direction when I noticed a “vintage” gentlemen (Read that as mid-fifties or about my age.) circling the block in the opposite direction. I waved at him, he waved at me and we went about our way. And then we met again, and again and again. In fact we met 24 times during my twelve laps and my greeting went from a wave to a smile to a nod as our paths crossed over and over. (I was happy to see him out there but unless one is impersonating a Cocker Spaniel the greetings go down in intensity with repetition.)
“Dude,” as I dubbed him, was circling on a road bike, decked out in cycling regalia of jazzy socks tucked inside cycling shoes that accommodated his lock-in style pedals, weasel squeezer biker shorts, gloves, helmet and a long sleeve, light blue cycling jersey. My cycling “kit,” as the cool kids call it, is similar to dude’s except I am wearing an old and ratty moisture wicking tee-shirt emblazoned with the name of some event that I did in a previous life, my shorts are designed for triathlon and will accompany me into the pool and my cycling shoes are worn sans socks. He looks neat and clean on his shiny bike and I look like an old toad on my odd ride kitted out in a sartorial style kindly described as hodge podge.
You caught the date, right? Middle of July in F-L-A calls for 7:30 a.m. temperatures hovering around 80 degrees and as the sun has only been above the horizon for an hour sol’s rays are not so direct as to cause me to squirt sunscreen on, but each to his own. Dude’s wearing long sleeves and looking fine while I circle the block looking like a beach comber in need of a beach.
I thought about pulling over and talking to dude but I was short on time so we circled, I got my 12.4 laps in (My OCD demands that I finish the last mile rather than stopping at twelve laps and falling short by .36 miles.) then pulled into my driveway and hurried to the pool before heading off to work where I sell and service bicycles.
I ride my bike most every day but only do the multi lap recumbent ride on days that I work. I looked for dude as I set off on my longish ride outside my neighborhood on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday and I looked for him as I circled the block on Monday and Tuesday. My Florida buddy Jesus is fond of saying, “Seek and you shall find,” but look as I may I never saw dude. I never saw him until Friday the 21st when I set out to repeat my 12 mile bike ride.
I complete one lap and find dude riding his Jamis endurance road bike decked out in the same kit as last week. We smile and wave at one another enthusiastically and I do my thing while he does his. Each half lap when we whiz by one another I tell myself I should talk to him. I finally get to my penultimate lap and decide to turn around and ride clockwise rather than counter clockwise so I can do a lap with dude and have a brief chat. I turn around and accelerate a little.
Having watched where we wound up meeting with each passing lap I figure dude is traveling at around 15 mph while I’m struggling at the high end of 17. I figure I can catch him with no problem. Except I don’t.
Seems that dude has reversed direction on the same lap as I did. I holler out, “Dude! I turned around so we could have a chat!” and laugh.
He laughs back, shrugs and keeps going. I finish my lap, see him approaching and then, after a quick shoulder check, cut a U-Turn so we’re heading in the same direction. Dude pulls up beside me and declares, “It’s no easier in this direction than the other!”
I say, “I know, but if we go counter clockwise then we don’t have any stop signs. It’s faster and safer.”
“Yeah, I figured that out. That’s why I turned around.”
“So it wasn’t just to avoid me? New to the neighborhood or new bike?” I ask.
“Both. I’ve only lived here two years.”
“That’s longer than me. I’ll be two years end of next month. My name’s Keith.”
“Robert. Robert Barrons,” which I immediately change to robber baron in my head, not because I think he is but because I now have a mnemonic mdevice to remember him. (Yeah, I’m that bad with names.)
I reiterate the safer part and add, “Yeah, my dad wrote your driver’s ed text book,” and then say, “This is my before work workout and I gotta head into the barn. It’s nice to meet you.”
Robert tosses back , “Nice to meet you too, Keith. Maybe I’ll see you next week.”
“Probably,” I reply, glad to have taken a few seconds to introduce myself. “Good luck with riding.”
“Thanks!” Followed by an over the shoulder, “See ya,” as he rode away.
I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for him.