“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
– Vincent van Gogh
I believe I am very lucky to have found a sport that I love so much, with one of the most important things being the people we have an opportunity to meet and sometimes ride with. Some are well-known:
– I have met iconic former professional cyclists like Eddy Merckx,
– current champions like Fabian Cancellara
– people like Cristiano DeRosa who currently manages the DeRosa cycling business along with his two brothers Doriano and Danilo; their father Ugo began building and fitting champions to their bikes 80 years ago
– Erhard Wissler, Chairman of the Wissler Group that produces Lightweight Wheels, Frames and accessories,
– Nelson Gutierrez who will one day be recognized as one of the visionary retailers of the cycling industry,
– Uli and Lidia Fluhme, who, because of their cycling passion (OK, they’re not too bad as cyclists go!) took their vision of a Gran Fondo in NYC and in less than five years have made it one of the preeminent Gran Fondo events in the world,
– my Gruppo Sportivo teammates, past and present, from whom I have learned so much
and some you haven’t heard of but consist of the entire group of people I have had the pleasure and honor to have ridden with either on the road or have had as students in my classes
This is a language appropriate version of what two of my students have thought of me!
Today was one of those days. I showed up to lead a C Ride from Strictly Bicycles; as it turned out the couple of people I intended to ride with weren’t there, the usual Strictly Bicycles ride was ready to leave and one of our customers was going to join this particular ride for the first time. Although I n with him at length he has been coming to Strictly Bicycles for about a month or so (be patient and I will tell you who he is in a minute…) and riding with some of the other guys that come through the shop. He is an athlete but new to cycling, the Strictly ride leader, Juan Aracena) told me he was going to keep the pace at 16 or so (I am convinced that Juan doesn’t know the difference between 16 and 61…) so I suggested to Amani that we ride on the back and see how it goes, that I can’t really ride with those guys if they start pushing the pace – so let’s hang on the back and if I can’t stay with them he could go on and stay with the group – of course he was gracious enough to do that……and of course we were seriously dropped waaaaay before Palisade Avenue!
I really haven’t followed football much since the late 1990’s – I watch a game occasionally and of course Nelson was so excited that Amani Toomer came to our shop to buy a bike so I knew he had played with the Giants and was a standout however didn’t now much more; he is really just a regular guy, very polite and humble, and enjoying riding his bike. I asked him a little bit about his career but didn’t want to be too invasive and he told me his entire career was with the Giants and then tried at the end of his career to sign on with another team but due to a nagging injury it didn’t injury it didn’t really work out.
There is nothing I love more than helping people – in business, cycling, and life – so when I started talking about peddle stroke and he told me he was feeling his hamstrings I was really happy.
As we rode, Frank Lee, one of my friends and one of the guys I was going to ride with in the morning, pulled up next to us; he was a little bit late getting to the shop and kicked it into high gear for about 6 miles to catch up to us (never one to miss a photo op, whether or not he can breathe, this is the photo Frank took right before the catch)
By the way I should let you know that Frank spent his Saturday doing hill repeats up Perkins! Yep, he is THAT kind of cyclist, but somehow always has the patience to ride with me – he is a really great inspiration.
We enjoyed a really great ride to Piermont, stopped for a few minutes to say hello to Wade Stevens and then headed back to the shop. We got to ride up State Line together and then between State Line and the bike shop we decided that we had a little extra time so we did a repeat up East Clinton – why not, its Sunday!
I thought that there might be an opportunity to ride with Amani again so let me learn a little bit more about his football career; pretty amazing and a real honor to share the road with him – more because of his character and nature…. his football accomplishments beginning with his college career are pretty incredible – but the sentence that resonated the most with me:
“Toomer expected to go into 2006 as the Giants number two receiver, but quickly showed signs of brilliance. In a week two matchup in Philadelphia, Toomer helped to spark a 17-point comeback by hauling in a career-high 12 receptions with two touchdowns. Physically exhausted by game’s end, he had to be carried off the field by trainers.”
As I said, an honor to be able to ride with Amani today…..and why I really love and appreciate being able to ride my bike…..imagine old and feeble me riding with a Super Bowl Winner and holder of so many NY Giants receiving records….
I am betting a dozen scones – and you know that I am not a betting man, let alone when it comes to scones – that Amani signs up for Gran Fondo NY 2015…….