Sandy backed into her driveway but didn’t press the electric door opener. At the bottom of the gentle slope she shut off the engine and asked, “Let’s use your key, shall we? There’s a door into the garage on the side of the house, let’s make sure your key works, okay?”
“Good idea,” Bryan replied as he got out of the car. Putting the key in the lock and turning it had the desired effect and he said, “Looks good.”
“Great! Let me run upstairs and change real quick. Do you need anything? Bathroom? Water?”
“I’ve got a water bottle in my bag that I need to fill. I can get water from the downstairs bathroom.”
“Great. Hey, pump up my tires, would you? I haven’t ridden since Sunday and they should be fine but, why not, right? Pumps under the shelf where I have my helmet.”
“Okay. How much air do you want?”
“Hundred and ten. Please,” she added.
“What did you pump these up to last night?” he asked.
“Same. They should be fine, they’re twenty fives, not twenty threes.”
“Okay,” he said, checking his phone for the time. “Better hurry or my leisurely ride will turn into a hurried one.”
“Be right back.”
Bryan took Sandy’s bike off the rack and gave her tires three pumps each with the high pressure floor pump, bringing her tires up to a tick over 110 Lbs. He rolled it over to the door that they’d entered through, went out and took the Giant off the roof rack and rolled that to a spot on the wall next to the Specialized Ruby and then he went back and grabbed his belongings from the car.
He filled his bottle with water, emptied his bladder, slipped into George’s old cycling shoes, put the clothes he’d had on over his cycling kit back in the car, donned his helmet on and waited inside the garage. It was pleasantly cool out and the weather would be nice for cycling but the house faced westward and the driveway was shrouded in shadow, making for a chilly, inactive wait. Sandy was down in minutes wearing capri length cycling pants, a long sleeve, lightweight top and fingerless gloves.
“Look at you!” she said, referring to his vintage Pearl Izumi Captain America jersey. “How old is that!?”
“Uhmm, twenty? Dad bought Mom a Mini Mouse Jersey, me a Bugs Bunny and this Captain America one when we were on vacation out in Denver one year. I still have the Bugs Bunny but it fits a four year old, so I just keep it in a drawer; as a memento, you know?”
“I do know, Bryan. Okay, what do you know about shifting a bike?”
“You push a lever forward and you do more work, ‘faster,’ if you will, and pull it back for easier or going uphill. Hey! Where are the levers?” he asked, looking at the bike’s downtube.
“Welcome to the nineteen nineties. They put the shifters in the brake levers. Same idea though. You push this little lever inward to make it harder and the whole lever in to make it easier; at least on the right side. It’s reversed for the front.”
“Yeah. I remember that. I shift more on the back anyway, right?”
“Yes. For sure around here, it’s not that hilly, plus the Giant has three chain rings so the middle will work great most of the time. Just remember to pedal forward when shifting. Did you try the pedals?”
“Are they really different than mine?”
“No, except you can only clip in from one side and the cleats a lot bigger. Better for riding, not as good for walking. I wish we’d gotten him Egg Beaters but the salesman said these were better for racing so this is what we got. They’re great, it just wasn’t good when we went for family bike rides and George clomp, clomp, clomped while Jon and I could walk around easier. You should be great. Questions?”
“Well, if the brakes are shifters where are the brakes?”
“Oh! They’re brakes, too!” she said, pulling the levers backwards. “You pull them back just like on Ol’ Red to slow down but push them inward to shift. Make sense?”
“Oh I think so. We can practice as we go.”
“I was just about to say that,” Sandy said with a smile. “Do you need anything? Did you leave your clothes here?”
“The ones you had on? Or did you put them in the car? You should bring some clothes over. I have plenty of closet space. Your toothbrush is lonely,” she added with a wink. “Ready?”
“Okay. Clip in and lets go.”
Sandy called out when to shift, which lever to push on which side and after two times the right shifting felt natural to Bryan. “Good?” she asked. “Intuitive?”
“Learned response,” he corrected. “But yes, I got it. People don’t use instinct much in using machines.”
“I said ‘intuitive,’ not instinctual, but you’re right. Let’s try the left side. It doesn’t work quite the same way. Okay, push the little lever on the left and pedal.”
“Whoa!” he exclaimed. That’s crazy! What’s that for? Mount Everest?”
“Or the end of a long, hard day! Now push the big lever, but push hard, it takes more muscle than the others do.”
“Got it. Sorry about the intuitive, pet peeve.”
“You don’t like intuition?” she asked as they came to the traffic light at First Street and First Avenue.
“No, I do. I like instinct too. People just say instinct when the mean complicated learned behavior. Remember when Captain Sully landed that big jet in the Hudson? Newscasters were saying that his ‘instincts took over’? Well, if they had we’d have a plane full of dead people. His training took over. Just stupid, nonsense. Bothers me sometimes.”
“No kidding? Never would have guessed. Okay, I will differentiate between learned response, intuition and instinct most carefully in your presence, oh great semanticist.
“The problem is,” she continued, “you think speech is primarily for communication. That’s a lie. Mostly we talk to entertain ourselves, beat our chests and assert our place in the pecking order. Don’t let it get to you.”
“Sorry, view’s nice up here on my high horse,” Bryan admitted.
“Just don’t fall off, you’ll bruise your ego, lover. No worries, we all have pet peeves.”
They negotiated the left turn off of First Avenue and headed north on the bike trail and the ride was easy sailing from there. Sandy reminded Bryan that his bike had gears as he started to make his was up the long, gradual hill from McGrafts and he dutifully pushed the large, right hand lever in once, then again and a final time so that climbing the hill was relatively easy. They crossed over Sylvan Court, went up the little hill in front of European Motoroj and wound their way to the back of 2113 Blairs Ferry Road.
“Eleven thirty three. ‘That’ll do pig, that’ll do.’”
“You better be quoting ‘Babe’ or you’re in big trouble. Now what? Lunch and bed?”
“Yes. Want to come up?”
“For lunch or bed?”
“Well, I meant lunch…”
“Sure, I can come up, but I need to get home. Lovely as our morning has been I have work piling up,” she said as she pulled her keys out of a jersey pocket. “Will this key open the backdoor?”
“Oh! No, it takes another. Do you need that? You can get in thorough the front.”
“No, that’s fine. I just wanted to make sure my key works. I’ll walk up with you.”
Bryan rolled his bike up the short steps to the front door opened it and held it open for Sandy. They clomped up the stairs in their cycling shoes and he said, “I hear what you mean about the big cleats. They are noisy!”
“Slippery, too. Be careful on wet tile,” she answered as they walked up the stairs to his apartment.
Sandy used her key to open the door and once inside Bryan said, “Cool! It works. I’m going to shower and then eat. Want to join me?”
“For lunch, sure. I’ll shower when I get home.”
“Spoiled sport. Okay, I’ll just be a minute.”
Sandy scoured the refrigerator for lunch possibilities while Bryan showered. She pulled bread from the freezer, spinach and onion from the fridge, grabbed an avocado and a garlic clove off the counter and a skillet from the drawer beneath the stove. “I think I can work with this,” she said. “And then I need to contact Jake about our May visit.”