"Marrano" a false forced convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition, 1986, Bicycling, College Park Bicycles, Geoff Tyson, Jack Reitweisner, Jean Tierney, Kneel Brothers, Montgomery County, Mrayland, Nicolette Buchanan, Potomac Pedalers, Talbot Springs Elementary School, Tony Kneel, UMCP, Wheaton Plaza
Nicolette Buchanan lay on the side of the road twitching in torment when Geoff Tyson rolled up on his black Ciocc. He made a bee-line toward Nicolette’s prone form and I stepped in his way, saying, “She’s okay,” as he hastened toward his live-in. “Someone called an ambulance: They’re on their way.” Geoff simply put his large hands on my narrow shoulders and practically lifted me off the ground, barely slowing in his double-time-march to gain access to Nicolette. “Yeah,” I exhaled softly, speaking to myself, “then there’s always that.” I felt terrible.
I’d started cycling six years earlier as a means of cheap transportation. Bicycling back and forth from my folks’ house in Colesville to College Park, Maryland where I attended UMCP, or to Wheaton Plaza where I worked. Biking meant I didn’t need to spend hours every week working just so I could own a car; a downward cycle of losing proposition if ever there was one, nor beg Mommy and Daddy to borrow their car, a routine that always made me feel like a Marrano during the Spanish Inquisition. So, back in June of 1980, my buddy Jack had picked me up at my folks’ and driven me to Wheaton Cyclery where I purchased my first ten-speed.
Bike purchased, Jack drove us to work and after a night serving table I’d hopped on my bike and driven home, cycling in the after-midnight darkness beneath the streetlights, wearing my waiter’s uniform with nothing to illuminate my way save a Berek branded headlight attached to my handlebar and a correspondingly ineffectual Berek taillight bolted to my bike’s left seat-stay.
Other than the eighteen months when I’d lived out-of-state and used a big, red, Oldsmobile Delta 88 for occasional transportation, I’d cycled back-and-forth to work and school for five-plus years. I’d sold the 88 when I fled Connecticut and this spring I’d experienced the joy of riding the backroads from Bonifant Road and New Hampshire Avenue to Colombia Maryland’s Talbot Springs Elementary School where I had just completed my student teaching.
While a lot of my riding was solo transportation I also used the bike to explore and decompress. Three springs earlier I chanced upon a Potomac Pedalers ride as I rode and in an impromptu decision hopped on the far reaching bike train. I joined the Pedalers soon after and I’d seen Geoff and Nicolette on a few of the rides I’d been on in northern Montgomery County. It had been the week before when my soon-to-be Best-Man Jack and I had been on a Pedalers’ ride that we’d undertaken on my fourteen-month-old Santana Elan tandem; a kind of sayonara send-off in anticipation of my upcoming, end-of-the-month nuptials with Jean.
Toward the end of last week’s tandem-ride with Jack, Nicolette had said, “That looks like a lot of fun. You two do really well on that thing.”
“Thanks,” Jack replied. “It takes a little team work and a leap of faith, but I’ve been riding with Tony on singles for years and we’ve done small group rides together on the tandem. It can be a little unnerving at times, but it is fun.”
“I’d love to try it!” Nicolette replied with a big grin.
“Hmm,” I said to her. “That could prove difficult. I’m moving to Atlanta in two weeks.”
“Really? How exciting! Guess my dream will go unfulfilled.”
“Well, no,” I answered, drawing out the ‘no.’ “We could ride next weekend if you’d like.”
“Really? That sounds great! I’ll give you my number at the end of the ride and we can figure out which ride to do.”
“Cool!” says I, stealing an over the shoulder glance at Geoff, her body-builder-boyfriend, “That should be fun!”