I heard him before I saw him. It was one of those idyllic northwest days, the morning clouds and dew illumined by bright clear sunlight transforming the moisture to glistening jewels amid vibrant green foliage. Charged with the frisson of the moment I was soon wincing in pain from the sound of what at first I believed to be children on a swingset where the seats are hung with rusty chains, for the sound was a recurring ‘reet, reet, reet’ in a cyclical fashion.
Rounding the bend on NW 123rd I discovered the source of the sound. It was an older gentleman wearing a blue sweater and grey capri pants following two younger fellows on cycles. It seemed the older fellow was trying to take their picture.
‘Show more enthusiasm!’ the fellow in blue shouted in a teutonic accent. The taller of the two youngsters shouted back: ‘Can’t we stop and eat something! I am gonna collapse here in a second unless I chew on something. We can just lay our bikes in the road for the photo shoot. That always works for me on Instagram!’ The other youngster with long black hair and a beard sort of cringed and kept pedaling.
As I pulled alongside the fellow in blue, I offered him some chain lube that I always carry in this damp northwest clime. ‘Chain lube! He retorted. Everyone knows a five speed cycle needs no chain lube – the chain line is so perfect no lube is necessary. Now please excuse me I am working. I will give you my autograph later.’
I thanked the fellow in blue for his offer of an autograph, but declined. He then went on to state that how could I ride a steel bike with fenders and not know him, and love him, he who single handedly revived randonneuring in the U.S. I asked him who he might be, SIR, since I have never seen him at any of the randonneuring events at my club, the local regional northwest randonneuring club. He gave me a look of disgust and directed his two youngsters to turn around and come back again for a re-shoot of the moment I had ruined for him.
Shrugging off this strange encounter I continued on to the coffee shop, parked my bike and went in for a northwest standard half-caff double shot full fat soy milk extravaganza with a heart on top and some artisanal cookies so I could update my daily journal.
Journal updated, it was time to leave and pulling on my flannel shirt I went back to my bike to find the lock had been cut and my bike had been propped up on the side of the building. The fellow in blue was taking pictures of the youngster’s bikes in the bike rack with the two youngsters standing behind him looking at their phones. WTF! I asked the fellow, and he just brushed me off with ‘This is an important photo shoot, please step aside. Here’s a couple extra poufy tires and a light mount to reimburse you for the lock.’
I accepted the tires and the strangely twisted piece of sheet metal with resignation, as I knew the police, if I were to call them, would only want to know what was it I did to make the fellow in blue cut my lock.
Such was my encounter with the man in blue.