Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Racing the Clock

June 22, 2005

Hains Point is a loop I’ve run hundreds of times in the past 5 years. In that time, I’ve gotten to know some of the regulars. There are the fishermen in their old trucks the homeless guys bathing at the bathroom sinks. There is “Joy”, the always cheerful four-season power walker. But my favorite character is The Old Guy.

Now, the way I see it, there are two kinds of bikers. Ninety percent of the bikers are clad in bright spandex, slowly turning the pedals on their high-dollar bikes. They barely break a sweat, and expect lowly runners like me to give them wide berth as they talk loudly with their ‘training’ partners.

The Old Guy is in the other group. Over the course of the years, we’ve gotten to know each other in five-second flashes as we loop in opposite directions. A simple nod or wave communicates deep respect and commonality with a fellow laborer. Riding an old bike and wearing a haggard jersey, he is invariably either sitting up and making deals on his cell phone, or whirring with his head down while gobbling up some slower-moving — but much younger– person on a much fancier bike.

Today, the first time I saw him, he was up out of the saddle, trying to outrun some big gun on a fast bike who was about three meters back. After half a lap, the younger guy was cruising along, and our hero was far behind. Later, there was another man right on The Old Guy’s wheel and he was gamely charging ahead, holding on for dear life. I think he got passed by that guy, too. But when I saw him again, he was riding alone, and giving me a cheerful ‘hello’. If you can’t outrun Father Time, at least you can make him suffer.

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