London and Paloma are in San Francisco riding on rented bikes for a SF adventure. They are climbing an arduous hill, standing up, hunched over, huffing and puffing. An older, large woman, whizzes past. Stupefied, they glance at each other.
When they reach the top of the hill, panting, they catch their breath.
Having assumed the superiority of their youth and fitness, they question if they're the ones who are really in shape compared to the obese woman whom they assumed wasn't. What was her secret? Does physical fitness belie body appearance? Does obesity always equate lack of fitness?
The hill was a steep incline. They continue to ponder the possibilities. Was the woman riding an assisted bike? The bike with a motor? Mystery solved--they conclude that no other way could she have moved up that hill so easily.
~~A few years ago, Tony and I biked the Netherlands during tulip season. Glorious. Glorious. We also decided to take a ride to the coast from our barely-inland town. We were on separate bikes and for me, getting to the sea was an ordeal. It took two hours. Once there, we enjoyed the beauty, the sea breeze, a nice lunch.
When it was time to return, Tony shook his head and got to engineering work. It is customary for every bike in the Netherlands to have a rack and a few bungee cords to strap on a paper wrapped parcel of tulips, a loaf of fresh bread, or books. Tony finagled the bungee cords together. He attached the cords from his bike to mine. Yes, my husband was going to pull me back. And it worked. So well that we were the entertainment for half of Holland. The success of the adventure is measured in the time it took to return--one half hour.
Yes, it's humiliating. Students absolutely love the story.
So, we got a tandem bike. In Holland and when we returned home. But...Tony at the helm, has started to make me nervous. I hate to think it's related to age, but it probably is. Flying down those hills, the vulnerability on the back of the bike, unable to control the brakes, to control the possibility of a car turning unexpectedly, it just plain makes me nervous.
Let me introduce you to the woman with a power-assisted bike: me. Glorious. Glorious.
On our first ride together on separate bikes, it gave me great pleasure to pass Tony on the hills, to turn around and see him standing, hunched over, breathing heavy. Too bad we didn't have a few bungee cords.