So I’m headed home after my after-work ride. I’m pedaling slowly but easily up a hill toward a stoplight, when a biker glides past me. I catch him at the light, and we chat briefly. When the light turns green, he jumps across the intersection ahead of me.
The next light is only a few hundred yards away, and that’s red, too. I catch up to him, and we chat briefly again. He’s tall and thin, with a craggy, tanned face and gray-white hair. I guess him to be about 65 years old. His jersey is from an event five years ago, judging by the date on the logo. The bike is in good condition, with shiny clean cogs and chain.
This time, I jump ahead when the light turns. I’ve been feeling good this evening anyway, and want to keep up my pace for the last two miles home. Getting ahead of the other guy — well, that’s something I can now do on the new bike that I couldn’t do on the old bike. But I’m not racing. If he wants to keep up with me, fine. I pedal alone for the next mile, when I turn at a stoplight. The road here goes downhill, and I can pick up some decent speed. Another half mile, and I hit a light at a busy intersection.
Once I cross this street, there’s a long, but not very steep, uphill. It goes past a large supermarket, whose parking lot is always busy at this time of day. I’m in one of my lower gear combinations, going slow, just starting to push a little harder against the grade, watching for cars turning into the lot — when suddenly I hear, “On your left.” I move slightly right, and HE goes by. I never even knew he was there. He must have stayed with me ever since I passed him. And now, he’s showing me who’s the King of the Mountains (or at least Baron of the Mild Suburban Incline). I boost my effort to stick with him, but it’s no good. He’s in a much higher gear than I am, and he’s pedaling at a faster cadence. I’m near the end of a 15-mile ride that I did at a faster pace than usual, and I have nothing left. I watch him with envy as he pulls away effortlessly, climbing the grade as though it were flat.
Dang! Smoked by an old guy again! I hate it when these geezers do that. Even though I’m a noobie compared to him, my youth and vigor ought to be enough to overcome his experience and cunning. But I have something to look forward to: By the time I’m his age, I’ll be that good, too. I’ve got time. I’m only 57.