Despite the summer storms we’ve been experiencing over the past few weeks, I’ve lately been working out on the Lincoln Avenue sidewalk. In my mind, I’m a regular Natividad Zirate, but without the bare chest. It’s nice to work outside, even if there are cars whipping by all day. It’s nice to work outside, because I get to meet all of the little dogs after their $200 haircuts at the salon next door. In the early evenings, the neighborhood grows flush with large SUVs and small women in yoga pants. Sometimes they’ll express interest in what I’m doing, and casually mention an upcoming triathlon they’re training for. But usually I just get curious looks.

This afternoon an older gentleman slowed as he approached me, and pulled over, lifting his front wheel onto the curb and keeping the rest of the bike and his body in the street. My hands were wrapped in purple nitrile gloves and I was carefully polishing a Ridley X-Fire with tiny tub of Zymol Creme. The man was wearing Rapha jeans (with the legs pegged, the flash of interior pink fabric highly visible) and a baggy #1 Derrick Rose jersey. He had a neatly trimmed afro with stylish, medium length grey sideburns. His bike was a blue Trek Madone equipped with Ultegra Di2, platform pedals and a riser stem.

“Boy…. you’re using way too much of that Zymol. It’s all about the thin layers. Lots of thin, thin layers.” he said.

I nodded. “Yeah, I’m trying to go too fast. Shortcuts.”

“That stuff is way too expensive for shortcuts! You’re just wasting it! And… it must take what, $10 or $15 worth of the stuff to cover a bicycle like that.” he said.

I didn’t want to think about it, but he was right. I didn’t want to think about how the Preseason Cyclocross Service Pass includes Zymol, Yokozuna cables, and $40 handlebar tape. So I just nodded, and kept polishing.

“So do you know anything about these computers?” he asked, changing the subject, and pointing at the Cateye Strada on his stem.

I nodded.

“The battery died, and I replaced it, and now it’s just blinking.”

I took a quick glance. “You need to reprogram it.” I said.

“I don’t know how to do that! They just put it on when I bought the bike.”

For a moment, I thought about suggesting that he returned to the shop where he’d purchased it. But that would be rude, no? So I popped the Strada off the mount, flipped it over, reset the thing and quickly programmed the wheel size and time. “There it is,” I said, spinning the front wheel to make sure it still registered.

“Very nice,” said the man. “I’d give you a few bucks for that, but I think my advice on the wax will save you a lot of money down the line.” he said.

And then he rolled off.