As you know, I am an important and influential blogger. Therefore you will not be surprised to learn I frequently receive requests to go riding with people who are visiting Prince William County. My email box fills up with queries like, “I know you are a very important and influential blogger, but perhaps you have time for a quick cycle?”
Actually, that is not entirely accurate. More specifically, it is entirely inaccurate. I have never received a request to pedal with a visiting cyclist until this week, when Roger contacted me from his home in Ohio. Roger was going to be in town and he wanted to know if I was interested in going for a pedal. After reviewing our schedules, we determined that an evening ride would be best, so we arranged to meet at a local gas station at 6:30 PM. Roger has quite a cycling pedigree, which includes touring the Lewis and Clark route (which he chronicled in a very entertaining blog), and I was looking forward to meeting him and seeing his interesting bicycle.
I got home with a few minutes to spare and got ready to head out. I was about to pump some air into my back tire when the unthinkable happened – the inner tube’s valve stem snapped off in my hand. What exquisite timing. Minutes before my very first ride with an out-of-town stranger and I suffer a bizarre mechanical failure. It was now time to see just how fast I can change a rear wheel tire.
It took me nine minutes, including two minutes where I cradled a cell phone between my ear and shoulder to take an urgent call from my wife while continuing the repair. Not bad.
Roger was waiting for me at our arranged meeting place, a local gas station. I wished I could have offered him something more idyllic, but this is about as good as it gets in my neck of the woods. The spot offered immediate access to a multi-use path that borders Prince William Forest. With any luck, we would see some deer as they come out of the forest to graze in the evening. We would also pass by the Lake Jackson Dam, which might offer a nice view. Sadly, there were no deer and the dam was barely visible in the dark.
What we did have was a very nice conversation. The first topic concerned his bicycle, which is a folding travel bike made by a company called Bike Friday. I’ve heard of folding bikes, but the ones I am familiar with are used by urban commuters to putter around cities. Roger has taken this bike on incredibly long tours, including the afore-mentioned trip from Columbus to the Pacific Coast, and other trips such as England, France, the C&O Path, and now Virginia. Roger says it is very easy to travel with the bike and it disassembles nicely into a suitcase. He certainly had no problems keeping up with me, and his high quality LED light blazed a path that my cheap blinky could not.
We told each other our life stories and reviewed the political issues of the day. We talked about cycling in Ohio, cycling in Virginia, and the great rides Roger had done earlier at Quantico reservation. I haven’t cycled those roads and they are now on my list. The skies were clear, the moon was near full, the temperature was a pleasant 50 degrees, and the path was clear of pedestrians. Roger is a fascinating person and a great conversationalist. It was a thoroughly enjoyable time.
So thank you, Roger, for thinking of me when you were in town. We didn’t see any deer, the dam, or much of anything else in the night, but I certainly had a great time anyway!