Yesterday, it was 44 degrees and sunny enough to blind me, so I embarked with great anticipation on my first true (outdoor) “long ride” of the year. I was expecting pure Velophoria all the way, but to my surprise, about an hour in, I was sluggish, uninspired, and contemplating cutting down the length of the ride.
So, I’m leaning on my top tube by the side of the road, chomping on raisins and almonds, feeling the sun on my back, trying to make up my mind how much further to go. Over the rise comes a rider out of his saddle, and the colors of his jersey are familiar. A moment later I place them: the Kissena Cycling Club in New York City. Only one dude I know of around here flies the blue and orange of the Empire State: No One Line, who I’ve been lucky enough to have in my neighborhood for the duration of this school year. Is it him? The rider shouts a friendly, generic, “Hey” to me, which alone speaks in his favor; most cyclists will simply lift a hand, at best, or just ignore you. I check his bike: A brand-new, matte-black Spooky Skeletor, a truly sinister whip. It’s NOL, all right. I shout his name, and he hits the brakes, does a double-take, and yells, “What are YOU doing here?” – as if he didn’t know. There follows much hail-fellow-well-met.
We were headed in opposite directions, but that just seemed silly. My route puzzlement clearly answered by his fortuitous appearance, I glommed on to the opportunity to ride with a friend through the knife-like February wind, as a way of brightening the day. And brighten, it did. We chattered away like magpies, about everything from bikes (natch) to woman mathematicians (his partner is a hard-rockin’ example) to novel-writing.
If I could dream up a perfect ride partner, it would be one who was in far better shape than me, inspiring me to hammer up a few hills I wasn’t at all planning to hammer up – and then, too, a delightful conversationalist with a broad-ranging zest for life, so when we’re back in February Base mode, we reel in the miles unnoticed (except for the perfect New England scenery; NOL comes most recently from the Big City, so the contrast ‘round here leaves him agreeably gobsmacked at times).
I guess I was dreaming yesterday, because before I knew it, it was an hour later, and I was just hitting my stride. We parted ways with promises to be in touch, and I finished out the last of my 2:30 with a little left in the tank, and some extra gratitude on top of that for friends, and the marvelous and mysterious forces that nudge us across each others’ paths.