Since I bought my first "adult" bike in 2005, an aluminum Cervelo P2SL, I've never ceased being amazed at how many people that decision has enabled me to meet.
|Just another day in the saddle.|
In my experience, you can never tell who might be spinning the cranks just next to you. During my first crack at Mountains of Misery, in 2007, I found myself in a paceline with a guy festooned with blazingly bright maple leaves on every item of his clothing -- including his socks. We introduced ourselves, and it turned out to be Leslie Reissner, a Canadian diplomat who worked at the embassy in downtown D.C. We got to know each other pretty well during the day, and met up for another challenge century, the Mountain Mama, later that summer. Unfortunately, I only met him twice -- he was soon sent back to Canada, and then to Germany -- but we still keep in touch on Facebook, and he's extended several invitations to come and ride around Europe with him. In the meantime, it turns out that he's a fascinating guy, with interests ranging from architecture to history, flying, cooking, bicycle touring, to opera and wildlife conservation. He's also a gifted and prolific writer, not only of an entertaining blog, but also of many insightful book reviews on Pez Cycling and other sites. All it took was a couple of long jaunts down the road together.
Hell on Two Wheels, an excellent account of the 2009 Race Across America. For those who don't know, that race covers about 3,000 miles, from San Diego to Annapolis, MD, every summer. Only 10-15 people usually complete it successfully, and those often ride for 22+ hours a day for 10-12 days straight in order to do it. It's billed as the most extreme endurance event on earth, and was the subject of the award-winning documentary "Bicycle Dreams." (It's outstanding, incidentally.)
I figured that, if the guy reading the bike magazine was as enthusiastic about the sport as he appeared, he'd probably love Hell on Two Wheels, so when we got off the plane and were waiting for the train in Dallas, I said hello, mentioned that I saw him reading the magazine, and handed him the book, suggesting that he might want to pick up a copy. He took it, looked it over for about ten seconds, and said, "Well, what do you know," and handed it back. He then remarked, "I actually finished that race in 1995," and extended his right hand and pointed to his ring, on which was emblazoned "RAAM 1995." It turns out that, that year, he was one of only 10 finishers. Our connection was immediate, and we chatted enthusiastically until he had to get off the train. He gave me his name, and I looked him up as soon as I got home. Very impressive, Ricky Wray Wilson, very impressive.
It just goes to show that, when it comes to cycling, you can never tell whom you're going to meet. It brings us together, and thank goodness -- the world needs more things like it.