Bicycle Tales

I went to high school with a guy named Darek Thomas.

Darek was a mop-topped, bespectacled Texas boy. He was quick with a smile, yet often had a slow simmer of rage bubbling just below the surface. He was devoutly Christian, but still liked to get his party on. He was one of the Conestoga soccer team’s prime contributors. And I was a sports reporter for the local school paper. So we hung out quite a bit back then. Later on he transfered to Syracuse and was my roommates.

At Syracuse, Darek was the kind of guy to walk into my bedroom, interupt me with a woman friend, then stand there in the doorway and carry on a conversation. He was the kind of guy who ran a power saw at 3 a.m. He was the kind of guy who introduced himself as, “D. Just D.” He was a good guy, and a good friend. Still is, in fact, though we lost track a few years ago.

Anyway, I just got in from my maiden bicycle voyage around Central Park. After two morning runs, the ride was a nice break. Still, there are two fairly major hills in Central Park, and rare is the hill climb that I don’t think of Darek.

Probably 18 or so years ago, Darek and I were riding in Valley Forge Park, the national park just down the hill from where I grew up. It was probably a twenty mile round trip from my home, and back then, twenty miles was a long way. (Nowadays, Chris, Jen and I do 60-75 on a good day’s long ride.)

Valley Forge chocked full of rolling hills. And getting back to my house was a long, slow, three mile climb. At the start of the climb, I did what anyone who’d grown up watching the Tour de France on Wide World of Sports would have: I stood in the saddle, and began furiously pumping the bike back and forth. Darek’s like, “Dude, what are you doing?”

“Don’t fight the hills, man. You’re wasting energy. Slow and steady, dude. Slow and steady.”

The philosophy may not win me the Tour de France, but it’s gotten me up some fairly major hills, and through some fairly major obstacles.

Thanks, D.

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