Posted by: fizzhogg | April 10, 2010

Who Are Those Guys?

First, the stats. New Personal Best Today. 23.5 miles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t due to any sort of desire to push myself, it was because… well, read on.

About 10 or 12 miles into the ride, I was cruising east on the levee trail (tailwind) when an old man – I mean a guy who had to be in his 60’s, because if he wasn’t, then he was in his 70’s – was walking his bike up one of the  “entrances” to the levee trail. The bike was an older looking Giant road bike, and the guy was wearing tights and a long-sleeve jersey despite the fact it was nearly 80 degrees out.

I didn’t give him much thought as I rode by, enjoying my tailwind. At the end of the levee I turned around and started back – straight into another fat headwind – and about half a mile along, the old guy and I passed each other. We did the cyclist’s nod and continued on.

Then… about two miles farther along, I was suddenly passed by another rider. Him. The old guy. He had ridden to the end of the trail, turned and caught me within three miles!

Now, I don’t care if it’s your tenth time on a bike or your tenth year riding, no one likes getting dropped. And especially by a guy who had to have 20 years on me. And let me take this moment to point out that the guy was not some svelte, 4% body fat, cycling type. The guy was chunky. Not a Clydesdale like myself, but he was hovering near 200 pounds easy.

I hopped out of the saddle to try and stay on his wheel. I saw him give a casual glance back that I read as “Yeah, right, youngun.” He slowly pulled away from me, opening a gap of about twenty yards when he slowed because he had reached the “entrance” to the levee where I had first spotted him. He got off his bike, choosing to walk it down the heavy gravel decline.

I, of course, rode down it. Getting back my lead.

I looked back as I headed up the two-lane blacktop back toward civilization. The old guy was heading the same way, but I had opened up a good 100-meter lead… thanks, of course to him walking down the hill while I rode.

I made my way back toward home, glancing back after another half mile and saw the guy was on the same course I was. And the 100 meters had been closed to about 60. So I kicked it up a notch, and managed to cruise through an intersection just before the light changed.

I smiled to myself as I saw him stop and unclip at the light. Yes, at this point in my cycling career I will take any sort of victory I can get.

I rode on, focusing on Gordon Lightfoot’s retelling of the Edmund Fitzgerald tragedy through my iPod. As I made a left onto another eastbound road I glanced behind to look for cars. I saw no cars. But I did see… him.

“Who is this guy?” flashed through my mind and I may have even said it out loud. There he was. 200 meters back, hunched over his old Giant, grinding away.

It was then I named him Joe Lefors, after the relentless lawman who tracked Butch and Sundance into paranoid anxiety and eventual death.

I thought, okay, Lefors is not going to catch me. I shifted and upped my cadence and started riding away. The road was flat with a series of gentle left and right turns. After each one, I would glance back to see where Lefors was. He was falling back and soon, when I looked back he was not there.

Yes, people. I used riding vs. walking and a red light to drop an old man who probably had no idea I was even alive. But a drop is a drop and this was my first.

I came to a traffic light and unclipped. I looked back. There was a straight stretch of road, probably 300 meters long behind me. No sign of Lefors. I smiled to myself.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

The light changed and off I rode, feeling strong and young. I was cruising around 16mph, and maybe four miles from home. I glanced back to make sure an oncoming car was clear and I nearly had my first crash. For as the car rolled by I saw a speck in the distance. A hunched over blue speck.


Maybe 400 meters back but damn if he didn’t look like a wraith coming for my Clydesdale butt.

Who is this guy?

I rode on, pushing myself for no reason beyond simple ego. My quads cursed at me as I cranked and cranked. Again I lost sight of Lefors.I also lost sight of just where the hell I was going.

I had made a right and a left onto other roads, thinking what are the odds he would be riding my EXACT route? I rode on, finally stopping when I realized that I had a choice to make – either keep going, or cross the street and return home to my family, to my life.

I waited for traffic to break for a long time. Never saw Lefors again. My breathing returned to normal and I watched as two riders on cruisers came by. I had to move for them to get around me and missed a chance to cross the street. I watched them ride away, then turned back to check traffic…

And here came Lefors, bearing down on me. Hunched over his stupid bike, with his stupid blue long sleeve jersey and his stupid black tights. My mouth dropped open and my muscles atrophied and as I stood there straddling the Unfat Machine, Lefors rode by… and smiled and waved.

What an evil, evil man.

I rode home in shame.


  1. Great story!!!

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