thing of beauty

Etiquette on the esplanade sidewalk is rudimentary at best. Walkers stay to the right of runners; both yield to roller bladers; all three should stay the hell out of the way of bicyclists. Among the bikers, even, there is some protocol: allow faster riders to pass, take care around narrow turns, etc. Still, when someone is passing, one would be hard pressed to get even a grunt of notice. Occasionally the passer yells a curt, “on your left!” at the passee, but even those notifications are rare.

So it was when I was riding home today, taking my sweet old time on my beloved single speed, enjoying the pleasant weather. From the corner of my left eye, I could see a man coming up to pass me. He rode a high-tech road bike and was decked in cycling clothes.

“Redline 925”, he said, enjoying every syllable of my bike’s name. “Thing of beauty!”
“Thank you!” I said in the time it would take for him to pass me. What else could one say while moving at 30 MPH?

Still, he hung back, and asked me how long I’d had it, did I love it, and how about those new handlebars? (I explained that I shorted them a little to get them just right.) We were pedaling at the same pace, but suspended in time, talking shop about bikes.

“That is a thing of beauty,” he said again. I smiled, he sped off. At 5:30 p.m. on a Friday, my bike was getting hit on.

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