• Patrick Gabrion

Cycling alone

I have a "Dear John letter" to write, but it's not the kind you are probably most familiar with. You are likely thinking of the type where someone terminates a personal relationship, i.e., woman issues bad news to serviceman off fighting a war.


No, mine is not that at all: It's a different variety of letter, containing a different message, and actually a different spelling of the first name — Jon instead of John. So here goes ...


Dear Jon:

I'm glad to hear that you and Sally are getting comfortable in your new digs in Brunswick. It sounds like a good move for a lot of different reasons. However, if I can allow myself to be selfish for just a moment, you leaving Hallowell has really put a damper on my cycling.


Of course, I haven't stopped, but going alone is boring and not as much fun. After literally riding thousands of miles with you, it's hard seeing you less often on rides and hearing you say, "What's happening, dude?" at the beginning of each one. And it's not the same belting out "Men, men, men, men" (see my last blog entry) all by myself.


A book worth tracking down.

You have traveled back here and I, too, to your new hometown to go out on our bicycles. I must admit it's been exciting to try out new routes, like Pleasant Hill and Flying Point roads in the Brunswick-Freeport area. But alas, we have only ridden together eight times since the first of September. That's just not often enough, at least not for me.


And while you and I have always had this non-competitive clause in our relationship, not riding with each other makes in hard to determine whether or not you are cruising wildly ahead of me in total miles for the season. By the way, as of today I've got 4,587. And I noticed today, via Facebook, that you were skiing at Sugarloaf, while I was out on the road on my Schwinn. But who's keeping track? Not me!


Anyway, as I've always said, a big plus about cycling is friendships — the ones you have and the ones you make. It's just more the merrier with more people on bikes. Now that you're kind of retired, maybe that will mean more miles together in the future. I hope so.


In the meantime, stay safe and I'll see you on the road ... sometime soon.

Yours truly, Patrick


The word on the words


A few weeks ago, I mentioned purchasing three cycling-related books and I can report back on two of them.


The first one, "Slow Is Fast" by Dan Malloy, Kanoa Zimmerman and Kellen Keene (Patagonia, 2013), isn't worth reading. It's kind of far out — possibly because it based on a California biking trip (you know, one of those Left Coast happenings) — the text is minimal and in some ways unrelated, and the photos are weird (again, groovy California) and several are even out of focus. I would say pedal away from this work of non-fiction.


But book two was just the opposite. "Team 7-Eleven, How an Unsung Band of American Cyclists Took on the World and Won" by Geoff Drake with Jim Ochowicz (Velopress, 2011), was very entertaining and full of interesting details of how this iconic team was formed and became the first American-based cycling squad to take on the cloistered European peloton. I've had the good fortune of shaking hands and chatting with Davis Phinney and Bob Roll, two members of 7-Eleven, so I was keen to learn more about this crazy bunch of riders from the 1980s. Definitely, a book worth finding and checking out.

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