Leaving cell phones behind

Whenever I prepare to head out on a ride, I grab a plastic sandwich bag, wrap my cell phone up in it, and stick it in my middle back pocket. Normally, I’m not much of a cell phone user. I never use up all my monthly minutes. But I consider it to be a piece of “must” equipment on a ride.

Even so, I manage to forget the thing once in awhile. It’s not a problem if I don’t discover that it’s missing until after the ride, but if I reach back to check the pocket during the ride and it’s not there, it puts a damper on the entire time on the bike. If possible, I’m likely to cut the ride short in a situation like that, simply because I find that being without a cell phone is unsettling.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on a ride with Mrs. Noob. A typical ride with her goes something like this: I ride 15-16 mph, she rides 10-11 mph, and I stop to wait for her every two miles or so. On this occasion, I was at a stoplight just a mile into the ride. Another rider pulled up next to me. Mrs. Noob was lagging behind, hoping the light would turn green before she got to the intersection. She hates to unclip, because that means she has to clip in again. And she really hates that.

When the light changed, the other rider shot across the road. I stood on the pedals and kept pace. He shifted into a harder gear, and started a long gentle climb. I stayed on his wheel, then passed him just before the next stoplight. We rode together and chatted for another mile, and then I told him I was at the usual “wait” spot, and wished him a good ride.

When Mrs. Noob caught up to me, she was in high dudgeon. “You can’t just take off like that,” she said. “I forgot my cell phone, and I have no way to tell you if I get into trouble.”

“Sorry,” I replied. “When I’m around another rider like that, I have to see what he’s got.”

“Oh, swell. Act like a little boy, and leave me high and dry.”

Hm. Didn’t know you’d forgotten your phone until just now. And I did wait in front of the school, just like I always do. But in her mind, I was clearly at fault. Suitably chastened, I started off slowly with her again. We decided to take a Mopac loop. It starts with a short downhill, where I usually reach 28-30 mph. This time I kept it down to about 20. After a mile, I heard her call, “Speed up! I’m not dead, y’know.”

For the rest of the ride, we stayed close enough together that we could have talked via tin cans and string. If we had them.

Then there was the time I crashed. If ever a cell phone could come in handy, it would be at a time like that. I rode a sore 15 miles after the crash, but finally decided to pack it in. I reached for my cell phone to call Pat — for Mrs. Noob really does have a name — and it came out of my pocket in three pieces. Turned out that I’d landed right on it. Luckily, I wasn’t the only rider in the group who felt unequipped without a cell phone, so I borrowed one from one of the other guys, and she was there in 25 minutes, to give me the ride home.

My cell phone is parked on the counter between the kitchen and living room. If I ever need it, I know it will be there. The plastic bag is in a drawer just below it. With that kind of organization, I’ll never be without the phone on a ride again. Until I am.

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