Can I borrow your girlfriend?

Everybody gets in a funk every now and then. When it hits me, my usual sunny disposition turns sour, which is kind of like sour milk getting sour-er. Most of the time that my navel gets twisted into a knot it’s because of some other human being. Often, they don’t even know they’re standing on my hangnail, although most of the time they do.

Why do people have to be dicks?

Answer: Because they’re people.

Down the street there is a grocery store and next to the grocery store there is a bakery called Meyer’s. You should make a note of that name because they make great donuts. They also make lights-out lunch sandwiches for $4.99 that put the neighboring Subway in the shade, but that is another story, a story about helping people instead of multi-billion dollar corporations.

Usually a group of cyclists congregates there before starting their ride. Even though they’re neighbors I’ve never ridden with any of them and and have never stopped to chat. They are always enjoying their coffee and donuts and laughing and it’s kind of fun to walk by and check out their equipment and listen to snatches of their conversation as I pass, kind of like being a spy.

One of the dudes rides a giant yellow recumbent. I’d recognize that thing anywhere.

Several days ago my wife and I were down at the Golden Cove Starbucks. If you are reading this and you live in Stavanger or somewhere and you’re thinking about one day visiting SoCal and you like crappy coffee, you’d better mark this place down because it has the best view of any Starbucks in the world, parked as it is on the edge of the continent so that you can gaze out over the Pacific and watch migrating blue whales and Catalina Island and sunsets while you realize that the coffee doesn’t matter at all.

As I was drinking THE ONE DRINK THAT STARBUCKS GETS RIGHT, I noticed that our table was next to that big yellow recumbent. Over across the way was its owner, sitting with his buddies and enjoying the day. Bikers clumped in a little group always look happy. Always. Unlike, for example, lawyers clumped in a little group.

My wife and I were talking about — surprise — bikes. My eldest son is coming home from Vienna for a couple of weeks and in addition to making sure the couch cushions were nicely plumped up for him I had been wondering where I was going to get an extra bike.

He isn’t a cyclist but he is a cyclist. We have had some epic rides together and even though he will be slow and out of shape, or rather because he will be slow and out of shape, I had been racking my brain for a bike.

The recumbent dude finished his coffee and came to get his steed. We started chatting and I told him I always saw him up by the grocery store and it turned out that we both knew Tony Jabuka (who doesn’t?) and I learned about the terrible physical problem he has with his arm that made him switch over to a recumbent.

“What kind of road bike did you have?”

“I still have it. A steel Fuji. Super nice bike.”

“I love steel bikes.”

“Yep. It’s a bummer climbing Hawthorne on this monster,” he said, pointing to Ol’ Yeller, “but the worst bike is better than the best couch.”

Having known this guy for five entire minutes but still not knowing his name I took a leap. “Hey, my son is coming into town for a few weeks and I need another bike so we can ride together.”

He looked at me for a second, because he’d just finished telling me about some crooks who had burgled his house. I got the feeling that his faith in humanity wasn’t at its highest. “Yeah?” he said.

“Any chance I could borrow that Fuji? It would only be a couple of months. We’ll be extra careful.”

He hesitated not at all. Not even a flicker of doubt. “Sure. Where do you live?”

“Up in the apartments over by the grocery store.”

“Let me give you my cell number. I’m here in RPV too, and I’m around for the weekend. Just holler. It would be awesome to know that bike is being ridden.”

We exchanged numbers.

“Okay, man, gotta go,” he said, and rode off, just like that. And it’s kind of weird, but when I turned back to my wife to enjoy THE ONE DRINK THAT STARBUCKS GETS RIGHT and the best view on the continent, my sour mood had somehow ridden off into the sunset, too.



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37 thoughts on “Can I borrow your girlfriend?”

  1. The guy with the recumbent yellow bike should be POTUS. You could be his communications director. Yasuko could do … National Security or Secretary of State. Or maybe POTUS and recumbent bike guy could be Secretary of State.

  2. I can only think of one drink that Starbucks gets right, but I have a vague feeling it’s not the same as your one drink that Starbucks gets right.

  3. I can imagine this whole story! And, wasn’t it a Fuji that you had way back when? Or a Nishiki International. Or something else entirely. I just read that mood changes can be done swiftly when practicing gratitude. There ya go!

  4. 2 steel (real) bikes in 2 blogs in a row!!!

    Is Seth getting a new steel bike?


  5. I kept expecting to find out who was a big dick, but then I got to the end and realized the story wasn’t about a dick. It was about a human being and a reason why people are great. Some people that is.

  6. The velo brotherhood is deep and this story of it just makes my day. Awesome story, Seth, and I look forward to hearing about rides with your son.

  7. So awesome. I’ll sign up for the monthly payment tonight. Keep up the good work man!

    Yeah, their bottled water tastes like the real thing.

  9. I hope to read soon about rides with your son. I would love to ride with my kids, but none of them are enthusiastic about riding. Now I have my hopes pinned on my grandson, because he likes to ride his kid bike.

    I hope to help him buy a bike for his 14th birthday. I’ll be 72 then, so I have work cut out for myself to keep in shape. If he’s enthusiastic about riding, I figure I’ll be able to enjoy riding with him for a year. After that he’ll just be a spot on the horizon ahead of me. That will make me happy, too.

    1. Will keep you updated. I always discouraged my kids from cycling, except for one very brief stint on the velodrome. I reminded them that if they ever got into the sport they’d wind up like me. That was all I needed to say!

  10. Reminds me of the early punk rock days when people would let you borrow a record at a show and you would tape it and bring it back the next Saturday night. If you were part of the community there was a built in trust. Had bands leave a cassette on my car just because of a sticker on my bumper. We all shared the experience and felt the brotherhood. Cycling is the same way, I may be slower than you, maybe I am faster, respect given simply for the fact that you do it. The competitive thing ruins most of it over time.

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