Tagged: Brooks England.

Bicycle

Bicycle gears

I’m at the Santa Fe train depot, San Diego, waiting in the bicycle line with my bicycle, to board the train to Los Angeles, when an older man, wearing a baseball cap, a pale blue shirt, shorts and trainers and holding on to a fancy looking dark blue bicycle says- ‘So, you’re with us.
‘Technically, I suppose yes,’ I say to him, and we both laugh.
‘I bet we’ll be last on to the train with our bikes,’ he says.
I tell him I don’t know, and then because we’re standing there and there’s a silence, and we have a common topic, we start talking about where we’ve been and where we are going with our bicycles.
‘We cycled from San Luis Obispo, the man tells me.
‘How far away is that?’ I ask him, knowing that it’s far, but not how far.
‘About 450 miles,’ he tells me.
But his cycling companion corrects him.
‘475 miles,’ says the cycling companion, whose bicycle is one of those low rider style, like a reclining beach chair with a wheel at each end.
‘Jesus,’ I say, ‘that’s a long way. Are you too tired to cycle back?’
‘My butt hurts,’ says the guy in the baseball cap, and with his left hand he reaches around to his bum and pretends to rub it.
‘I bet it does,’ I tell him, ‘and I look at his seat which looks like it would be as vicious as a plastic picnic knife on the backside and testicles.
‘Believe it or not,’ he says after I suggest he get a gel seat, ‘this is the most comfortable bike seat in the world. It’s a Brooks England,’
I tell him I don’t know what that means, but I’ll Google it, and the man goes on to tell me it’s the third seat he’s had and he’s worn all the others out and this seat takes 6 months to break in.
Then the 2 men start looking over my bicycle, and the cycling companion, who is very tall and has gray hair and round wire-rimmed glasses and is wearing a pale blue cycling jacket, and jeans, tells me my chain needs some oil.
‘A bit of oil to go with those cobwebs on your gears,’ he says, pointing to the back wheel.
We all laugh at this and I explain that my bicycle has been in storage for 4 months.
Then, diverting the conversation away from the shameful state of my bicycle, I say to the man in the baseball cap-
‘You look like a hard core cyclist and that bicycle looks really lightweight,’
He tells me yes and that all they have carried on this 475 mile trip is in their panniers-a change of clothes for eating dinner in and not much else.
‘And sore bum cream?’ I say.
He laughs and says yes.
‘Have you been cycling a long time?’ I ask him.
He tells me yes, he has, since he was very young.
‘I’m 75 now,’ he tells me.
And my mouth falls open and I frown.
‘Are you serious?’ I say, ‘you’re 75? You look about…I dunno, 54,’
Then he laughs and touches me on the shoulder and says he’s going to tell his wife.
‘I’ve been married 51 years,’ he says, ‘and I’m going home to tell her I look too young for her and that she doesn’t cut the mustard anymore,’
I laugh at this and then the conductor walks over to us.
‘Off you go with your bicycles.’ he says to us.
And so, despite the 75 year old cyclist with the sore bum predicting we’d be last, we, with our bicycles, are first to board the train to Los Angeles.