Wednesday, August 07, 2013
He went flying by on his bright blue bicycle without even a glance my way. All of his attention was focused on the road ahead. Who was that man on the beautiful blue bicycle? There was something strange or different about the bike; I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first. It came to me minutes later after he was well out of sight--could it have been a motorized bike?
I finished my snack, brushed the grass off the seat of my shorts and proceeded with my ride. Not too much longer, I spotted the bike and then the man sitting on a rock on the opposite side of the road. I gave him a wave and almost continued on, but I was curious about the bike and about him. He was not a young man by a long shot.
His name was Raymond and he was out for his daily two-hour ride on the mountain ridge with lots of rolling hills and a few really good climbers. He occasionally rode with his two friends--young guys, about my age (that made me smile)--but he rides every day whether his friends can ride or not. How old was he? (I asked much more politely than that.) He had just celebrated his 93rd birthday in June. I was sure that he was kidding me for asking such an impertinent question. He assured me he wasn't kidding. I would have guessed he was in his mid-70s; early 80s at best. He promised that if I kept exercising and taking care of myself I'd be riding a bike at 93 too. I sure hope so.
We talked for quite a while. His bike was motor-assisted, but he pedaled most of the time because it re-charged the batteries and he could ride longer. He has been pedaling for 83 years. When he was in the war, he bought a bike in Alexandria, Egypt, and kept it throughout the war. His family was originally from Italy, so when he was there during the war, he looked up relatives and rode to visit them. His fellow soldiers nicknamed him "Bicycle Man".
After a while, we said our good-byes, and I started the last long, gradual climb. A few minutes later he nimbly passed me by. And all I could think was, "I was just passed by a 93-old cyclist!" I hope our paths cross again.