Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

05 November 2016

Colors That Haven't Changed From My Youth

Yesterday's ride was all about color.  So was today's ride.  At least, my ride ended with them, though the hues I saw were very different from the ones I saw in Connecticut and Westchester County and the Bronx--or even in my neighborhood.

Of course, not every vista on today's trip looked like that.  But it's hard to have a better ending, wouldn't you say?

Certainly, it was a reward for pedaling through the industrial and post-industrial badlands of Essex, Union and Middlesex Counties--and, I guess, for something I did about an hour and a half before I saw the sunset.

A cool wind at my back glided me and Vera, my green Mercian mixte, down Route 36, a two-lane valley of asphalt running along the length of an isthmus about 150 meters wide, with the Atlantic Ocean to my left and the confluence of the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers on my right.  As I mentioned in other posts, I pedaled this road many times during my teen years, and during visits to my parents' house after I moved out, and before they moved to Florida. 

Tears rolled down my cheeks.  I couldn't blame them on the wind, or even the chill.  I was thinking a bit about some of those past rides, but I was also very, very happy to be riding a road--and through a community--Superstorm Sandy all but submerged four years ago.  

In spite of the beautiful weather, I saw little motor traffic. Of course, even on unseasonably warm days at this time of year, few people go to the beach.  I did see, however, more than a few cyclists--including a twelve-year-old boy crumpled on the side of the road, his bike lying on its side.

Fortunately for him, I wasn't the first person to see him:  A man and woman who were walking by, and a friend who was riding with him, were standing around, talking to and touching him on his shoulder, neck and arms.  

He'd  been riding on the sidewalk and, from what he said, grazed the side of the curb.  When I chanced upon him, he was clutching the right side of his head, which struck the curb when he fell and rendered him unconscious for a few seconds.

The couple had already called the police.  I told his friend to dial the boy's family, who live just over the bridge that crosses the river from Sea Bright, where we were, into Rumson.  Soon the officers, EMS workers and a fire captain arrived; a few minutes later, the boy's father showed up.

In response to the fire captain's questions, the boy gave his name, address, birthdate, parents' names, and telephone numbers--and correctly identified today's date, the town an state in which we found ourselves.  And he named the current President.  He reported no pain anywhere in his body but his head, from which a lump was starting to throb.

The fire captain, police and EMS workers admonished him to wear a helmet the next time he rides, and his father to buy it for him.  As they left, the father thanked me, even though I didn't do much more than stay with the boy and say some reassuring things to him.

It wasn't exactly heroism on my part, but somehow I felt rewarded for it at the end of the day.  If I indeed was, perhaps what I did, however small it was, could have been some sort of atonement for committing one of the worst sins a cyclist can commit.  At least, I would have regarded it as such back when I had pretensions to racing.

I mean, how could I resist the Polar Bear Ice Cream.  Even Bruce Springsteen couldn't have come up with something more old-school, blue-collar Jersey Shore than that place.

It's not one of those places that will dazzle you with exotic flavors or architectural presentations.  Instead,it offers some of the classic flavors and toppings of hard and soft ice cream, home made. They are offering smoothies and other things that none of us could have dreamed of in my youth.  Still, I went with something basic:  a waffle cone with the vanilla-chocolate swirl. (Think of it as the black-and-white cookie of ice cream.)  It was all that I remembered--except, of course, for the price, which was still modest.

I think the young woman who worked the counter wasn't even born the last time I stopped there before today.

Funny, though, I don't remember one of my early mentors (in cycling) telling me, or anyone else, not to eat ice cream while riding.  I don't remember how I got the fear that consuming anything like that cone, or a sundae, during a ride would shut down my digestive system and, possibly, everything else in my body.  But it certainly wasn't from "Ducky" Schiavo, or his son who now runs this shop:

The Peddler, in its first location a few blocks from its present one, was one of the first shops in the area to sell high-performance bikes.  I bought my Nishiki International and Peugeot PX-10 there.  Now Michael, his son--who bears a striking resemblance to him--carries a combination of the ultra-modern and retro stuff.  I learned a few things about cycling culture, to the degree it existed when the Peddler opened, as well as other bits of history.  Perhaps I'll write another post about that.

For now, I'll leave you with the colors that ended my ride, and day.


  1. Are you still doing a few bike deliveries on the side...?

    Downside of the higher definition bike pictures is the drool in the keyboard, they are quite hypnotic.

  2. Coline--I try to deliver good tidings!