Years ago, there was a popular — and I might add hilarious — video on YouTube showing a prairie dog continually shouting, "Alan ... Alan ... Alan." It appears as if he's in search of a long-lost friend, and in a small way I can relate to this poor devil's plight.
Since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to protect everyone's health, procedures at the bike shop are way different. I go in around 6:30 each morning to clean bikes and leave before others arrive to open for the day. Consequently, I don't see any of my workmates. But the big disappointment for me, and this is why I mentioned the prairie dog, is being unable to get together regularly with Alan, one of the key dudes at Mathieu's Cycle.
When I got hired at the Farmingdale shop, one of the first things I told the owner was that I didn't mind when I was scheduled to work, but please pair me with Alan whenever possible. Heck, he's the reason I would hang out there when I was just a customer.
Almost everything I've learned about bicycles is due to Alan. No question is too dumb and he very patiently — often multiple times — explains why and how this or that works on the two-wheeled machines we love to ride. I've yet to see any problem perplex him when it comes to bikes.
But, more importantly, Alan is always ready for a laugh and having fun. He loves telling stories and most of his jokes are corny. Believe it or not, we even had a ball re-waxing the floors at the bike shop over the winter.
If I was ever on a winner's podium after a bicycling event, which in truth is never going to happen, and had the opportunity to thank those responsible for my success, I would most definitely have to mention Alan.
I do hope I see him soon. First, because of his friendship, and secondly, because three of my bicycles need a little TLC that Alan will cheerfully provide. Thanks!
'Reunion Tour' update
I see on Facebook that feedback is being sought on the timing for my Class of 1971 high school reunion slated for 2021 in Ithaca. My plan is to cycle from Maine to Michigan to attend the event, marking 50 years since graduation. Most people are suggesting August or September for holding the celebration, with the latter month being my preference from the standpoint of cooler weather conditions.
Meanwhile, I've been riding my Trek 920 — the adventure bike I will be taking — quite a bit of late, getting comfortable with how it feels and now shifting the SRAM gears like a true veteran, no longer taking a peek downward to make sure I was doing it right.
I have to start getting serious on mapping my route, which will take me through five states and one Canadian province. Much of this will be accomplished with materials furnished by Adventure Cycling. The two portions of the trip I'm really looking forward to include the Erie Canalway Trail, which is a 360-mile mostly unpaved path that runs the entire length of New York, and riding along the northern shore of Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada.
I've purchased my front and rear panniers and one trunk bag, but more details on those and what else I'm hauling will be revealed in the future. For the moment, it's just more riding and having fun.