The relationship begins with a sizing up. An initial evaluation of apparent strengths and weaknesses. A hierarchy is formed. Questions are asked. Where are you coming from? Where are you going? It’s best if you’re able to ride shoulder to shoulder for a bit and build a rapport. It’s best to learn each other’s names before you either slip back and drop into that wonderful pocket of still air just off his back wheel or pull in front and let your take your wheel. The stronger rider always takes the first turn.
Last week, Art waited for me at the top of the climb. He didn’t have to. I might have caught him on the descent anyway, or I might not have. He waited. Then, he asked if I’d ridden Beatty Circle before. “No,” I said, “but that’s where I’m headed.” Art didn’t plan on riding that climb that day and he told me, as we approached the right turn, that he was headed straight down to Green Valley and up, eventually returning home to Placerville. As I hollered a goodbye, he surprised me and turned with me. “I thought you were going straight?”
“I was, he said, but I wanted to see what you thought of this climb.”
It was lucky we’d met. He showed me around the residential neighborhood. He took me up to the top of the hill and down the other side and we rode together, both of us on routes we hadn’t planned. When we separated, turning opposite ways on Green Valley we both knew that we might see each other again but we probably wouldn’t. We were had been old friends over the last 10 mile but we parted ways as strangers.