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My commute to and from work is by myself. I enjoy this, in the AM it lets me clear my head and get ready for whatever craziness the day holds. In the afternoon, riding back home alone allows me to decompress. This solitude works for me, but as a social being, sometimes company is nice.

I enjoy the group rides the club I belong to puts on. I like the final sprint that someone inevitably will initiate and I like the fact I have a "rabbit" to chase to help improve my own cycling skill and ability. I like the conversation, the camraderie. I also like the strength of being a group rather than alone for road presence and in case of emergency.

I moved to my current locale just over a year ago and I always see "the bike guy." I've asked around at a few LBS and everyone knows his name is Dick. He has an early 70s VW bus that has less than 30k miles on it since he rides his bike everywhere and in all kinds of weather. I cannot verify what kind of car he drives (if he has one) but I have seen him ride in all kinds of weather.

Yesterday on my commute home, I saw a cyclist ahead of me in the distance. The headwind was the worst I have every experienced and I really pushed myself to catch up to him/her in hopes of drafting and meeting someone new. As I approached, I saw it was in fact, Dick, "the bike guy." Dick has a homemade welded rack with all kinds of flashers and strobes on it in a plethora of colors, this is how you know it is him from behind, its as wide as a full dresser motorcycle.

I pulled up next to Dick, and his bike, was, well, awesome. In this day and age of sloping top tubes, carbon fiber frames, electronic shifting, featherweight saddles and disc brakes, Dick's bike was so different from today's "norm" that it was beautiful. Stainless steel frame with small diameter tubing, lugs, bar-end shifters and a worn leather saddle were a beautiful sight to behold. Worn and faded Trek panniers on his fork splayed across a homemade front rack served as his respite from the rain, wind and gravel that gets kicked up on the roads around here. An old headlight, which looked to be taken off of a moped was powered by a bottle generator from the front wheel/tire.

Here's my favorite part about riding with someone else: the conversation that ensues. I've foudn cycling conversation to be easy, free-flowing and fully of positive adjectives. Someone is an awesome rider, that bike was beautiful, it is a great ride, was a lovely day. Dick and I started the conversation about what routes we take, dangers to look out for, etc. I started to ask Dick about his bike. It is a 1980 frame built by a small local company that went belly-up in 1985. His shifters looked unique, it turns out there are Campy downtube shifters mated to third-party adapters to make them bar-end shifters. His bar tape is long gone, duct tape, electrical tape, and braided wire loom sparsely cover his handlebars. Our conversation moved on to other things, about the history of where I work, the area around us, good welders to repair racks and what the future of cycling technology holds.

Dick's cadence was an amazing thing to watch. First, his legs were a series of veins and knotted muscle, similar to those globes we had in school with the topographical surface. His cadence was never ending, in the 14 miles we rode together, never did he once coast or increase/decrease his cadence. The circles his feet spun in were perfect, never an awkward jerk, pause, push or pull. Even the way he unclipped from his pedals was subtly impressive. The ease of the outward twist to unclip his left foot while slowing to a sub-snail pace. When starting off again, the intuition he had in flipping his pedal over to clip in was effortless and natural.

People around here always talk about "that bike guy." Dick is part anomaly, part of the local culture and now a part of my commuiting experience. I'm glad I got to ride with Dick.
 
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