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The one that got away

As often happens with most fishermen, I let the big one get away. However, my particular situation had nothing to do with a slimy, underwater creature.

Let me set the scene. I'm hanging out inside a terminal at Heathrow airport, awaiting my connecting flight to Brussels, Belgium. Having located a relatively quiet lounge area, I was attempting to catch some shut-eye — as sleeping had failed to materialize during my overnight journey from Boston.

People were just milling about, doing what they do to kill time. Then I noticed this dude take a seat. Despite my drowsy state of mind, I was nearly one hundred percent certain as to who this individual was — sitting a mere fifty feet from my reclining chair.

We'll return to my travel tale in a moment, but first a little bit of backstory.

As some of you may recall, I had a blog posting centered around last year's Tour de France. Mark, a former newspaper colleague and really good friend, had made contact with me. His daughter, Olivia, wondered if I desired any souvenirs from the race, as she was heading to Paris because of her job as event coordinator with EF Education First.

I was thrilled at the prospect of receiving anything having to do with the Grand Tour. As a collector of cycling autographs, I put in a request for the signature of Neilson Powless, an American pro racer and key member of the EF team. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but Olivia kindly secured other items for me — which are currently prized pieces of my ever-expanding cycling memorabilia.

Now, back to Heathrow. So, who was this mystery person who snapped me out of my slumbering condition and grabbed my full attention? It was none other than Neilson Powless, in the flesh. You could have knocked me over with a feather. My identity suspicions were solidly confirmed several minutes later, when this bicycle master got up and walked away — with the day pack draped over his shoulder revealing the not-hard-to-miss pink EF logo. I watched helplessly as Neilson Powless boarded his plane.

To this very day, I keep asking myself why I didn't make the effort to stroll over and politely seek his "John Hancock." I want to believe he would have been obliging. But to be totally honest, there is no reasonable explanation. It's just what took place — plain and simple.

Consequently, on this particular occasion, the big one did get away. However, I made up for my lack of action a few days later when I received a handful of autographs from the Lidl-Trek men's and women's professional cycling teams. Made more special, because it came as a complete surprise. Just like seeing Mr. Powless show up at one of the world's busiest airports. Stay safe!

Any day on a bicycle is a good day.

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