April 6, 2011

Happy New Year

Yeah, yeah.... it's *APRIL*. I know.
Honestly, though, I prefer more of a seasonal approach to the "new year", rather than the traditional calendar-based dictation.
The first buds on the trees, the sunrise happening to the north of any east-west street, first honest thunderstorm... stuff like that.
After a really weird March, and a sorta gloomy start to April... well, I think we're here.
NOW I can get started. Perhaps that gives me a whole quarter of slack compared to the rest of the world - but whatever.

Yesterday, I started work from the home office, and then rode into the big box later in the morning.
A good commute... short sleeves, bare knees. Temps feeling really nice. Ahhhhhh....

A little tailwind push, little spin... and a lot of smiles. Although... the bike trail felt like a rail trail with all of the fallout from a monster hailstorm that blew through Sunday night.
Twigs and branches everywhere... clang, crunch, snap.... and, it relieved me of my usual "on your left" chanting. I need to reinstall the bell.
Another sign of the new year, modern man re-emerges from his hibernation and takes to the trail system - usually with companion, or companion pet...so more efficient rear-approach signaling is essential.

The ride home, even with spring's usual wicked-headwind, was equally nice. Kept it in easier gears and just spun up the hills and enjoyed life around me.
That gave me a chance to witness a little bit of what I can only describe as "rolling history": nearly to the point where I wished I would have had the gall to stop him, and ask a few questions:
Rounding a tree-lined corner, I came upon an older gentleman riding his bicycle. Not uncommon for the bike trail, after all - but this encounter was different.
Instead of the usual tennis shoes and flat pedals, casual cruising, hi-rise handlebar'ed hybrid scene, this man - at least in his 70's if not an octogenarian - was riding what appeared to be a long-low, traditional lugged steel bicycle - the angles of which called out names like Mercian or Hetchins, though I could not see a label. Heck, it could have been a Schwinn World Tour and it still would have been utterly cool.
Instead of a tee-shirt and jeans or sport shorts, this tall gent was wearing an honest-to-goodness, horizontally-striped, wool jersey... and not a reproduction from what I could tell, as it had the kind of look to it that only comes with time and use, despite being well cared-for.
He donned calf-length socks, and what looked like old-school touring shoes - the kind with the triangular cleat of yesteryear, before Look came onto the scene.
He looked comfortable - but was leaned over like he was riding straight off the lithograph of an early 1910's Tour de France poster.

I did the full double take - and smiled. Epically "cool", in the best definition. Ex-racer from the 60's? Local legend out for a spring spin? Even at his obviously advanced age, he still looked lean and ready. He also looked like someone that would fit well with a name like Jean-Luc or, Rene, or maybe even Bernard or Octave. Bold. Classic.
Rat-pack and slick-hair classic, from a bygone era that is sadly slipping away; perfectly fitting the role of wool and lugs, wherein he'd spend the afternoon thrashing his mates on a tough climb, and later he wouldn't at all be above enjoying a pipe full of Perique and a pint of bitters.

If nothing else, he might have had a good story or two...
I'll let the mystery of imagination tell the rest of the tale -- but it was a rare encounter...

Nice day today.

1 comment:

philbertorex said...

Thanks, that made my day. Hearing about riders like that makes me think I've still got decades of enjoyable riding ahear.