Unlike say walking or running, when you ride a bike, you can actually get somewhere useful in a reasonable amount of time. It takes me about an hour to ride 16 miles home from work each day. An average speed of… well 16 miles per hour; not very fast but respectable. Some days it takes a little longer; head winds, traffic lights, taking the time to interact with other cyclists or picking up two green enchilada plates from La Playita, all can add to the overall time required to get home. Now I do not have a speedometer, or bike computer, and I only rarely time my ride. I found myself becoming a slave to the clock and I know if I had a bike computer I would for sure become a a freak about my cadence, speed and any other facts those little gadgets spit out. I love to ride my bike and while I have done it professionally, (I was messenger in Boston back in the day) I'v never been a racer. I am not very fast and not very competitive, or so I thought.
Since I have been commuting I have noticed this thing where I see a cyclist ahead of me, and I pick up my pace. I know this is foolish. One should find ones pace and stick to it. Yet there I am, pouring it on to catch whoever is ahead of me.
Where does this come from? Nine times out of ten it turns out to be an older guy on a expensive road bike and I end up feeling bad about passing him with my single speed. I mean if it is a young guy, or even a kind of not so young, but has not actually figured that out yet guy like me, it would be ok but those guys are more likely to be zipping past me.
This brings me to The Blue Rider. For over a year on any given evening, I have been passed on the way home by a guy on a dark blue single speed. It is a nice bike. Modern corm-mo steel frame, flat bars, no frills. Now being passed is one thing, but this guy tears past me. I have on several occasions tried pursuit, and was left panting in the dust. The Blue Rider is fast. This lead me to thinking less than nice thoughts about him. The nefarious Blue Rider creeping up behind me on the bike path with his rather bright headlight casting weird shadows of my form in the darkness. Then he pounces. He is next to me not even long enough for a greeting (and none is offered) and then off into the night leaving me to stare at his Cat Eye tail light winking mockingly at me.
On one occasion we were waiting together at a traffic signal. He was all looking off and ignoring me. I even asked "How's it going?". No response. That is just not done. The Blue Rider… my nemesis.
A few days ago he nipped past me as I slowed for the light at Abbot Kinney and Venice. I followed in hot pursuit, but was losing ground. He snapped the left onto Marr St. I followed but hooked a right on the little foot-path that connects you through to Mildred, a short cut. He took Oxford. We arrived at the light at Washington simultaneously. The light changed promptly and he got off ahead of me. This is where I pick up the official Southbay Bike Path. "That's it, I'm not racing, this guy's just jerk anyhow" I told myself. I kind of let him go. As we approached the next intersection at Admiralty Way, he slowed as the light was against us.
I caught him at the light. We stood in silence, waiting. Then I spoke out "Nice day." The Blue Rider double took as he turned his head and said in quiet voice "Yeah" This was not the snarl of an evil opponent, this was an almost shy voice. "I see you out here pretty often." I continued. "Yeah every night" he replied. I nodded "You sure are fast.". He shrugged sheepishly and said "My wife, she gets mad if I don't get home on time." We laughed and with that the light changed. He was off opting for the smoother but heavily trafficked Admiralty Way. I took my time on the bike path and where it comes back out on Fiji Way I could see The Blue Rider off in the distance. Racing home.