This morning I rode in with a neighbor, a biologist from Barcelona visiting Chicago for the year. His studies have something to do with beetle DNA, but thankfully he wanted instead to chat about cycling in Spain. His racing career began, like many Catalans, on the track. It was there (specifically at the Velòdrom d’Horta) that he met Melcior Mauri, an absurd talent at the age of 17. Mauri would turn pro not shortly after, and eventually win the 1991 Vuelta for ONCE.
As much as I urged him to go on about his experiences as a junior, the conversation instead shifted to the riding here in the city, and what he could expect to look forward to in the coming months. I kind of gave him a blank stare, and paused for a moment. Here was a middle-aged, lifelong cyclist, a strong fellow, as far as I could tell… with the posture and casual ease on a bike that is developed over decades, rather than years. I wanted to come up with something to say that wouldn’t disappoint.
“Well, almost everyone I know has put away their road bikes and has shifted to cyclocross…” I began.
Now he returned the blank stare. “No es cierto.” he said. “It’s summertime!”
We chatted briefly about the recent local spike in interest in cross, and how the trend has so heavily influenced how folks ride and race and consider the seasons. But mercifully he found this topic boring.
“Tell me more about the Indiana Dunes.” he said.
“It’s a pretty long ride…”
“Exactamente! It’s summer! It’s supposed to be hot and sunny and wonderful for cycling. You’ll show me how to get there this weekend, then?”
” Sí, pero… I’ll be riding my cross bike, OK?”