Biff America: Seeing your enemy in the mirror
Vail, CO Colorado
Just because you are diagnosed with paranoia doesn’t mean people are not out to get you. Just like that guy in the gray jersey.
I was on a 60-mile, out-and-back bicycle ride that included “Island of the Sky” National Park in Utah, ending at my waiting RV near Moab.
Not long before I entered the park, I saw several riders and a support vehicle at a pull-off doling out snacks. I thought they might like to get to know me, so I pulled over. I was barely off my bike, heading toward the free food, when some lady stopped me and said the aid station was for “registered riders only.”
I had to think fast. I pretended that I didn’t hear her and said, “No, thank you; I have plenty to eat with me but wanted to come to see what was going on and say hello.”
She wasn’t buying it.
The riders at the pull-off were only a small part of the group; during the next 20 miles, I saw many others.
There is only one fastest bicycle rider in the world – I’m not him.
In bicycling, or any sport, there are people who are faster and people who are slower. On any long ride, you pass people and get passed – at my age, it seems more of the latter. Sometimes, you can pick up your pace and ride with the faster riders for a while or you can slow down a little and ride with the ones you pass.
On this day, I wasn’t looking to make friends; I wanted to listen to my iPod and ride at my own speed.
I was able to keep an eye out for the passing riders and vehicles due the stealth mirror I have mounted on my bike. I’m sure some of you have seen those mirrors bicyclists wear affixed to their glasses. They work well for seeing who is approaching but also serve as birth control. (I’ve never seen anyone who wore one hook up with a rider of the opposite or same sex.) Plus, they give me a headache. But my stealth mirror allows me to keep track of who and what are approaching without seeming to care. If I see riders coming up behind me and I feel strong, I might pick up my pace to see if I can keep them at bay; if not, I can move over slightly so they can pass me safely.
It was after passing and getting passed for about 10 minutes that I noticed the guy in the gray shirt in my mirror behind me; 20 minutes later, he was still there. He was too far back to see what he looked like or how old he was, but he kept an even pace with me. I picked up my speed to try to lose him, to no avail. A few times, I would almost kill myself sprinting up short hills, and he would do the same. Finally, I decided two could play his game and slowed down, trying to force him to pass me so I could likewise stalk him, but he slowed down, too.
He kept far enough back so I couldn’t tell his age or even if it was a he. I hoped he was my age or younger. I never gave him the satisfaction of turning to look at him but kept an eye on him with my mirror.
I knew his game; I had done the same thing many times. There was a hill just before the turn-around point, and he was waiting to pass me there when I was the most tired. That bastard.
About a half-mile from the turn-around point, the road steepens and I got out of the saddle and sprinted. By the time I reached the top, I was seeing spots and nauseous. I got off my bike, tried to control my breathing and pretended to not wait for my rival. He never showed up.
On the way back, I kept an eye out for anyone in a gray jersey, but all I saw were pastels.
I got back to my waiting camper about an hour later. My mate had opted to not join me but rather take a trail run that day.
“Damn, you look beat,” she said. “I thought you said you were going to take it easy today and just spin?”
I was going to lie and tell her I felt so good I decided to push it but decided to confess.
“I spent the morning trying to out-ride a speck of mud on my mirror,” I said. “Do we have any Windex?”
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.