And you're confused, on which way to go
So I've come here to give you a hand
And lead you into the Promised Land."
Free Ride. The Edgar Winter Group, 1973
A very good friend once commented - "To a cyclist, the entire world is uphill, upwind and up yours." He said that chuckling. We were drinking beer beside a pool in Virginia, having ridden our bikes from Oregon in the Bicentennial summer of 1976.
2013, and I'm older. New riding companions, a new bike. A lot more road behind me than ahead. My friend and I set out from a high school in Northglenn only to face stiff headwinds all the way out and - as luck would have it - all the way back. Add a puncture and then, inexplicably, another. We found the cars and turned to each other.
"Let's not do that again anytime soon."
Lunch is rejuvenating, but the tire is still flat. I know better than to replace a tube without finding the cause of the puncture, don't I? Haste? Home, I search for the cause. The hole is near the stem, on the rim strip side. Uncommon, and beyond my meager skills. I head for the bike shop the next day.
Bruce looks at the rim. He looks at the rim tape. He listens to my description of the hole that led to the second flat.
"It's a tube. Karma. Replace it and forget about it."
We discuss RAAM, and the bike I will ride on my second trip across country. His suggestions are sane, reasonable. He shows me the frame - gorgeous. I'm ready to get to work, building a bike. Excited for the challenge, committed to my friends.
Standing in the promised land, surrounded by bikes, I feel the magic. My repaired wheel holds air. I want to run out of the store, get on my bike and ride. Yesterday was a struggle - and a gift, riding bikes with a friend. Is...now too soon?