by Pico ヨハネス
A chance encounter, what could've been. Stick to my route or follow that girl.
I rolled into the gravel and dirt driveway, bought a grilled cheese sandwich and settled onto a picnic table about as far from the road and other people as I could get. Ragged Point is a high rocky point sticking out into the Pacific Ocean. It is quite high up so the view out to sea is considerable with the rocky shore stretching out north and south. I took a few photos of the view for the album and munched quietly watching the arrival of the other cyclist.
The wind off the Pacific was still cool and she was wearing a windbreaker jacket with full-length black cycling tights. Her sandy blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, which fell down her back from under her helmet. I watched from behind the safety of my sunglasses as she dismounted and walked around working the tension out of her legs. She stayed near the entrance way of the picnic area and didn't notice or ignored me anyway.
In rolls a bus load of curious seniors to complicate things. Temporarily safe where I was sitting, I watched several of them begin talking to the young lady guarding her bicycle and soon she was the centre of a small group fielding their questions. I would have found this amusing but time was marching on and I couldn't escape without walking through that group of people. I tried to escape, really I did but I didn't make it. I ended up standing next to her answering questions too. Then the seniors were gone.
Up close she looked a little older than I'd initially thought, probably the same age me. I resisted those blue-gray eyes that seemed to find me amusing and interesting at the same time. I'm not used to attractive women responding to me that way. Maybe she was just as lonely as I was. After all, I'd been on the road for four days and hadn't exchanged more than a few words with anyone during that time. Leading up to that I'd been jilted a few times, single with no prospects for more than a year to that point.
With bicycle touring as a common point of interest we talked and talked. We talked about our tours and our equipment. In the middle of that, she noticed my gel seat pad (which was still a novelty at the time) and asked me if it was one of those new pads designed to help prevent penile numbness. I'm sure my earlobes were glowing red. I'd just spent four years in college studying theology for crying out loud.
At some point, the spell broke long enough for me to look at my watch. Good grief, we'd been talking for more than an hour. My schedule didn't have room for this kind of distraction. We parted ways at that point but I don't think either one of us wanted to. Part of me was ready to follow her like a lost puppy. I even had a ready chivalrous excuse. After all the road can be a bit of a dangerous place for petite females and I could be the protection she needed.
Maybe it was a good thing we were headed in opposite directions. Duty and a sense of responsibility kept me on course but sometimes I wonder what could have been.
Messing up my schedule meant I rode until it was quite late to get my mileage in. I ended up sleeping on a gravel turnout. One of my all time worst wilderness campsites. I blame that for the lousy night's rest I got.