Biking Buddies

This past weekend I set out on a bike ride that I love to take when I’m in the country.  The roads that I ride on are mostly empty and have wonderful views of meadows and  mountains–the “gunks”– in the New Paltz area.  My ride usually finishes by going past a spectacular horse farm with hundreds of acres of pastures and scores of thoroughbred horses.  I then loop back to my house.  The whole thing takes about an hour.

I was about a minute into my ride, lost in my thoughts, when I heard a loud voice yelling, “on your left”.  In biking lingo, this means that someone is about to overtake you on your left side and you should stay in your lane and just continue going straight.  Usually you would hear this warning when you you’re riding on a narrow path or the shoulder of a road.  But as I say, the roads I ride on are almost empty so there was an entire road two lanes wide to pass me without a warning.  It’s only afterwards that I realized how “off” that was.

On Your Left!

On Your Left!

In any event, after the “on your left” call I kept waiting for this other rider to pass me.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, he settled in next to me and introduced himself. I responded in kind.  Apparently, I now had a riding buddy.  Which, in theory might be okay but knowing me, it hardly ever would be. So, unless I was up to being blunt and asking him to leave me alone, I was pretty much trapped.

Over the next half hour, I learned a lot about Fred, my new-found friend.  I can’t categorize our interactions as a conversation because he did all the talking.  When I saw the direction this was heading, I decided to chart our respective word counts.  The score reads like this:  Fred- 3,612 words.  Neil-17.  So I now know things about Fred’s wife, Ann (she’s 70 and doesn’t bike with him any longer [for reasons I won’t go into]), Fred’s mother (she’s 95 and lives in Bethlehem, Pa.  On her own, but one of Fred’s sister’s [he has two] looks in on her), Ann’s mom (who’s 89 and also lives in Pa.–I don’t know who’s looking in on her) and that he and Ann who were K-6 teachers took turns getting their Masters degrees at SUNY New Paltz.  I know so much more but I’m trying to keep the blog a reasonable length.

As Fred was talking it became clear to me that one of his favorite words was (is), “blessed”.  As in, he’s really blessed to have the life he has.  Or that he and Ann are blessed to have their mothers still alive.  Also, that he and Ann were never blessed with children.  Now I know this sounds mean-spirited but remember . . . I only got 17 words in.  And as long as I’m on this mean-spirited track, I have to tell you my ears are still ringing (more than they usually do) from hearing him mention something or other about a theater.  But he pronounced it “thee-ate-er”.  Almost as if we were in a scene from The Music Man.

At one point, Fred asked me what I did.  I was caught off guard but got out that I had been a real estate broker (five words).  This excited him because he had a question for me.  It seems Fred keeps his yard neat as a pin, his neighbors less so.  He wanted me to tell him how much less his house is worth because of the unkemptness of his neighbors.  I explained that I’d be simply making a guess. He said that some realtor had come up with a figure of a 10% lower value in his house because of the less than stellar upkeep by his neighbors.  And here’s where things got a little scary; according to Fred, that was just like one of his neighbors breaking into his house and stealing $25,000 from him. I decided not to use any of my words and leave it at that.

We came to the half-way point in my ride where Fred and I would be heading off in different directions. After we stopped,  Fred pulled out a little notebook where he entered my name, the date we met and our route. He then asked for my phone number. (Evidently, I’m great company.) Uncharacteristically, I thought quickly on my feet and gave him your number instead. I’m kind of proud of that.

We said our good byes and I got back on my bike to begin my trip back home.  And then I realized . . .  even though I found riding with Fred really annoying, it distracted me from the effort.  A blessing in disguise, I guess.


3 Responses to “Biking Buddies”

  1. Sister Says:

    Stevie is going to like talking to this guy when he calls him. Yuk yuk yuk otherwise known as lol

  2. Nod Says:

    Fred called and agreed to be your partner in the Knick member-guest tournament. Lucky you, he plays tennis too! What a blessing!

  3. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    Nice try Nod. But I already have a partner. Someone named Derf was recommended to me. Only problem from what I hear is that he shouts “on your right” instead of “yours” when he can’t get to a ball.

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