The guys were standing in line to order the food and Sherri had sat down at the table on the terrace to make sure no one else snagged it or stole the bikes while we were inside. It was a perfect Santa Monica Saturday in March, sunny and warm, and the terrace was bustling. Sherri noticed the light on the rear of my bike was still blinking, so she went over to switch it off.
When she came back to the table, a tattooed and ill-tempered young fellow and his friend were about to sit down at the table, which had our helmets and gloves on it.
“That’s my table, sonny,” Sherri said politely.
“Not any more,” he answered.
“Yes, in fact, it is,” she countered. Everyone at the surrounding tables was now watching, and we had just walked out from indoors with our hands full of tacos.
“I don’t see your name on it,” the guy said.
“Honey,” Sherri said in her sweetest but firmest and oh-so-unwavering Southern accent. “If you want to get into a dick swinging contest with me, you need to know I got a drawer full of ’em at home and they’re all bigger than yours.”
The tough guy blushed to his hair roots and his friend began laughing at him as the onlookers snorted and spit pieces of taco out their noses. It was turning into an epic day.
Early last week I had made plans for my Saturday ride. I was going to crash the 6:00 AM Top Secret Invitation Only South Bay Royalty Ride and tag along for the 120 miles or so of wandering through the Santa Monica Mountains. It would fit perfectly with my plans to do the Belgian Waffle Ride (43 days away but who’s counting?) and would be a nice follow-up to the rather longish ride I’d done the previous Saturday.
Plus, I’d get to ride with a group that I normally don’t hang out with because of their very early riding schedule.
On Friday evening I was airing up my tires when it occurred to me that my eldest son had suggested we go for a bike ride on Saturday. We’d talked about it the previous weekend and it had completely slipped my mind. “Hey,” I looked over at him, “do you want to ride on Sunday instead of Saturday?”
“Yeah, but I can’t. I work Sundays from ten to four, remember?”
“Oh, right,” I said. “What time do you want to ride tomorow?”
“Let’s go around ten or eleven,” he said.
“Great,” I answered, with that feeling-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach that every cyclist gets when his weekend riding plans and oh-so-important training schedule get upended. But I didn’t let on. My son and I don’t spend a lot of time together; he’s 22 and works full time, and although he commutes by bicycle he certainly doesn’t view a bike as a form of recreation. When I think about all my friends who have spent so much time doing things with their kids I’m acutely aware of my deficit in that particular bank.
Since he’s the one who had suggested it, I knew I’d be crazy not to follow through. We left at 10:30, and before we rolled out he handed me his t-shirt. “Would you stick this in your jersey pocket so I’ll have something to wear if we go into a restaurant?”
“Sure,” I said.
The bike path was already packed as people flocked to the beach after having endured that one brutal day of winter when it rained for thirty minutes and got down into the mid-50’s. Hardship really makes you appreciate the good days.
It took us a long time to get to Manhattan Beach, where Surfer Dan was late, as usual. We waited for him, but not really, and continued on, chatting as we rode. We stopped at the Marina bridge a while later and met up with Dan. He and my son talked all the way to Helen’s Cycles, where we picked up Sherri for lunch.
After the dick-swinging incident we rode back to Manhattan Beach and drank iced coffee as the swirl of scantily-clad girls flowed by. We pretended not to be looking, and we continued to not-look for a solid hour. Then we got on our bikes and pedaled home, knocking out fifty miles in about 5.5 hours.
There had been no hammering or intervaling or pacelining or dickmeasuring, with the exception of the exchange at the taco shop that Sherri had won by several inches. “That was fun,” he said when we got home.
Dinner tasted especially good that night. Mrs. WM had made a giant pot of meat sauce for the spaghetti and she had baked a fresh loaf of bread whose smell wafted down the hallway of our apartment complex. My son and I didn’t say much over dinner; we’d said what needed to be said already, as well as what didn’t. It was, as bike racers like to say about a particularly hard training day that will pay off come race day, “Money in the bank.”
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