After spending entirely too much time at my desk today, I escaped for a late-afternoon ride from La Jolla to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and back. As I rode north on Torrey Pines Road, I came up on a rider who looked pretty tall for a cyclist. In fact, he looked tall for anything. It was an older fella ("older" like me), and he seemed to be working pretty hard. He was sweating a good bit, and had a back brace on that one doesn't normally see on a cyclist.
Seeing the back brace made me think of how fortunate I am to ride relatively pain-free, despite all the things that are "wrong" with my aging body...tendinitis, rotator cuff mess-unknownitis, deteriorating disks, spinal stenosis, blah blah blah. When I ride I feel good. And for the first 50 miles or so I can feel pretty darn young.
Anyway, after I pass this guy, I stop at a traffic light. He catches up and slowly rolls through the red light. I saw trouble coming...and was certain of it enough to say "whoa!" out loud. He spins around in time to avoid disaster, and when he turns back toward me I think, "This guy looks familiar."
As the light turned green and I had a chance to look at him again, I asked him, "Are you Bill Walton, or just somebody who played him on TV?" He gave this funny "deep thought" look for a second and with a smirk he said "both." Bill Walton is a home boy in San Diego. I've seen him at the airport before, but never out on the road. If you know a little bit about the injuries and pain Bill Walton has been through, then you can appreciate what an effort he was making to get out and ride the coast.
I remember meeting Robin Williams on the road when we were climbing Torrey Pines Grade a couple years ago. Even Robin Williams gets quiet when working the hills. So I didn't bother launching into a diatribe with Bill Walton. I could have told him how my son is now going to UCLA where Walton was such a star. Or how fun it is to see such a basketball legend (a UCLA, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Celtics) cycling around the neighborhood. I just said, "It's great to see you out here, have a nice ride."
It's nice to see everybody out there. (You, too!) Have a great, safe ride.