Today he invited me to his house for a "nice little bike ride".
Those were his words.
I arrived at about 11 this morning and by 1 was eagerly awaiting death's sting. His "nice little bike ride" was a 25+ mile endurance test of pain, suffering, and more pain. Followed by a bit more suffering and punctuated by a little more pain. I do a lot of biking and typically 25 miles would be a long, but very manageable ride. What kills me about riding with Steve is the grueling pace he sets. He seems to operate under the misapprehension that I am some sort of biking hot-shot whose only desire is to leave other bikers in his dust. This is not true. I only do that when I'm biking with little kids, because it makes me feel like a tough guy.
Steve paces his rides to match how he imagines I ride, and I suffer for it. I spend the first 15 minutes chugging along and chatting and having a delightful time dodging the traffic through Nashua. As most of the rides I take are through the rolling, verdant pasture lined roads of rural New Boston, I find the multiple lanes of speeding traffic coursing through Nashua an energizing thrill.
There was a time, many years ago, when I was attending art school in Boston, that a favorite pastime of mine was to venture out on my bike into 5:00 rush hour traffic on Boston's main thoroughfares. That was years ago, and though I find that I don't bounce back as quickly as I used to from catastrophic collisions, there is still a tingle of a thrill when a driver roars past me, leaving a half a centimeter between me and his right front bumper.
By the time we had gone about 10 miles, I noticed that it was hard to talk to Steve, both because I was using all my available oxygen for other purposes (namely, remaining alive) and because Steve was several hundred yards ahead of me.
We slowed up a bit when we entered Beaver Brook (a delightful conservation area suspiciously devoid of beavers or brooks) and I was able to prepare for the ride back to Steve's house, which was brutal. I would not admit this at the time, but Steve threw his chain twice and I was delighted at the opportunity to stop and take a quick break while I watched him work.
I am proud to say that I made it all the way back to Steve's house without throwing up a single vital organ.
I don't consider my spleen vital.
Steve made all amends with a delicious Sangria and some tasty lunch comestibles. After lunch, Steve showed me his new didgeridoo (which he can actually play - he is amazing) and a tiny clay djembe drum that he was given as a gift. Naturally, we broke into song and his suburban Nashua neighborhood was ringing with the tribal beats of our drumming.
His daughter came home from school and said she could hear the drums from several streets away. My secret hope is that the neighbors were in fear of a takeover by some hostile native tribe. I figure that would distract them from the comical sight of me panting and heaving like an overheated buffalo in Steve's driveway.