When the sun shows itself, it seems that the most interesting people start to show themselves too. People seem to interact with more than just an acknowledging nod and even –gasp– talk to strangers.
On the first week of April, just this happened. As I was stopped at the traffic lights, an older man – around 60 – pulled up beside me on his dated Raleigh. Out of breath, he shouted over “come on then!”
I looked over and gave an approving smile, as if to say “you’re on.” We caught up with one and other at the top of the next hill, where we joined the cycle lane that’s away from the road, and rode side-by-side.
He told me of how he only just started cycling again – after 7 years off the saddle – 3 days prior. This man, of whom I do not know the name of, continued to tell me about how he got taken ill with chest problems which forced him off of his beloved bike. I truly admire his conviction, he clearly loved cycling and even 7 years off hasn’t gotten in the way of him and his passion.
As we slowed down at a junction of the cycle lane, he began speaking of how in France – where his second home is located – a driver would get thrown in prison for even tapping a cyclist with their car. “It’s a big, hard world out there, boy” he said, before we mutually agreed that cycling is one of the best ways to disconnect with the fear and anger that surrounds us and instead learn more about ourselves.
His last piece of advice was perhaps his most curious, as he looked me dead in the eye and tapped his chest with one hand. “Hear that? It’s because I have bloody bubble wrap down my top!” Apparently, if you ever feel like your chest is cold, nipping into the local paper shop and picking up their cheapest paper is a great way to insulate yourself from a chest infection. The validity of this information I can not vouch for, but that’s at least one thing to keep newspapers in business for a little longer.
In this 10 minute encounter, I made a friend. The type of friend that doesn’t want anything in return, doesn’t have an ulterior motive for talking to you, and is easy to continue a conversation with.
If nothing else, I did learn one thing: I hope I’m as crazy as him when I’m 60.