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Well Hello There, Ed!
(Long see, no time.)
By Chip Haynes
Editor Note: This piece from Floridian cycling essayist Chip Haynes first appeared in Mason's Wire Donkey Bike Zine. Subscription information follows this essay.
If you're a regular bike commuter like me, you probably take the same roads almost every day. Sure there are days when you just have to break out and go nuts, but most days, it's the same old roads the same old way. And you see the same old people (and the same young people, too.) Me, I see the same other bicycle commuters several times a week. They're going the other way on the other side of the road, so for years we've just waved at each other across the traffic. Sort of like a secret handshake, I guess.
One bicycle commuter I'd seen for quite some time was the one I always see on Lakeview Avenue. He is headed west--and downhill--as I head east and (you guessed it) uphill. Seemed like a nice enough guy, considering I knew absolutely nothing about him. He rode a bicycle--what else do you need to know? All of that changed yesterday as I was stopped at the side of the road, waiting for a break in traffic to cross over before charging through an intersection. Here he came; we were about to meet.
He stopped and we talked like two old friends who had never met. I found out right off the bat his name was Ed. (Okay, so technically my name is Ed, too, but I didn't tell him that. He laid claim to it first, so I figured I'd let him have it.) He was riding a nice Cannondale mountain bike (Hard Tail) with street tires. Nice ride. He had it all outfitted for commuting, except no fenders. Handlebar cell phone holder, yes, but no fenders. Go figure. A front bag, lights, a frame pump--he was ready for just about anything, with the possible exception of a little rain. To each his own, I guess. But I'm glad I have fenders.
Once he took off his spiffy, sporty sunglasses, I could see that he was not as young as I had thought. (I wonder if he thought the same of me, now that he saw me up close.) He said his commute was 10 miles one way, and that he really enjoyed it. He got a kick out of astounding his co-workers with the fact that he commuted that far everyday, and really enjoyed pedaling past gas stations and laughing. From the sound of it, he doesn't own a care. Good for him. He mentioned that he had had a heart attack a while back, but had been cycling a bit even before that. He also explained that he had been much heavier then, and cycling had helped take the weight off--and helped keep him alive. Very good for him.
We talked about bikes and roads and cars and drivers, and it was good to hear another bicycling commuter with a positive attitude about how he got around. He was happy to be cycling, and enjoyed every minute of it--even in the rain and traffic. After about five minutes or so we parted ways, but now we knew each other. From now on, that wave has a name attached to it. Cool.
I've often suspected that there are far more bicycle commuters out there than I will ever see. Different roads, and different times, all conspire to hide us from each other. How could you possibly get us all together in one place? (Offering free bike tires might do it.) It would be interesting to see all of the bicycle commuters in this town in one place at one time. Until then, I guess we'll just have to meet two at a time, along the side of the road. I've met a few that way--only a few hundred more to go! Of course, if the oil runs out and we all ride bikes--it's a party!
For Wire Donkey subscription info, contact Mason St. Clair, Editor and Founder, 3620 Rolland Road, Nashville, TN 37205-2434. Email email@example.com
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