Fatigue Limit – 2

Bike race in London, 1889 (Wikipedia)

I  rode north from my place to Carl Koenig’s house in Mayfield, a short distance from the train depot, and found him waiting outside. A year ago I came to know this disputatious crank of a rider who lived the hermit’s life, except when it came to cycling. He had his pulse on the biking community. Bicycle knowledge, not blood, coursed through his veins. The forty-five-year-old cyclist stood well over one fathom, and that left an immediate impression. He had not an ounce of fat on his large, sturdy frame. His legs looked like the drive rods of a locomotive. Upon further scrutiny, he had a nose shaped like an eagle’s, large hands and long fingers, like talons, and deep-set eyes that could spot wildlife at extreme range. His uncanny ability to see and interpret what lay ahead while riding made him prescient. He identified birds by their song when he could not see them high in the trees. Carl was much more than a cyclist. He was a savant, a coach, Darwin in the wilds, and a walking encyclopedia rolled into one. The mechanical engineer showed a deep tan, having just returned from Hawaii where he worked for Dillingham Construction building a railroad through swampland. His passion for railroads almost equaled his love for cycling. He jumped at the opportunity to visit Hawaii, not for the pristine beaches and palm trees, but to build a railroad.

I joined his devoted band of followers on weekend rides into the Santa Cruz Mountains. They were racers, by and large, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to be just like them.

“Come inside Tab. I need to adjust this wheel. I see you got my telephone message. The ‘snooze-paper’ in San Jose is one of the few businesses that has this modern voice box. It’s a good thing because I just got word Gary Mandrel is passing through. We’re meeting at Orr & Peterson.”

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