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Issue 14 – Christmas 2022


Thank Them Now

On cycling and mentors.


Bob looked like Clint Eastwood. He could match Dirty Harry’s scowl and snarl-grunt. But he was not the strong, silent type. With Bob, the pronouncements were frequent and frank, unvarnished thoughts straight out over his teeth. When I shook his hand for the first time, he remarked vulgarly on my handshake’s inadequacies and prescribed a workout regimen to stiffen it up.  

I set myself up for this gruff introduction. Bob was one of two serious cyclists in my corner of rural Pennsylvania—as in, he was one of the only two we ever saw on the local roads. I had recently become hooked on the sport. I spent June riding my department-store Roadmaster ten miles each way to watch my crush play softball games. The bike rattled apart in July, just as I discovered Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France. My parents bought me a Trek mountain bike for my birthday that month, and I set out to find a riding partner. So I stood by the magazine rack in the grocery store where Bob stocked shelves part-time, conspicuously reading a copy of Bicycling. The stakeout was a success. I left the grocery store with some grip strength tips and a rendezvous.

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About the author

Steve Knepper