This morning on my path commute I came up behind an older man on a hybrid bike. Usually riders and walkers hear me come up behind them. They generally prefer to pull aside. Not this guy. He entered a long stretch where the path runs between the rails. I would not be able to pass him without making a point of inconveniencing him.
I had to laugh, being stuck like a motorist in traffic, or like a driver behind a cyclist where it isn't safe to pass. I had plenty of time to think about it as he made his leisurely way, apparently unaware I was back there at all. I stayed quiet so he wouldn't feel compelled to make room for me in the narrow confines of the rails.
Long minutes passed. I scrutinized the details of his bike. Why was he in that strange gear, on the small chainring up front and the smallest or next smallest cog in back? Were the shifters acting up? I checked his crank to see if it was a crank of death. Tne brakes indicated it was about a 1998 bike, safely past the Crank of Death era.
The tires looked like about 700X35, with no bald spots. I couldn't guess at chain wear, but it looked like it needed lube.
Finally we moved out from between the rails. I gave what I hoped was a cheery greeting as I passed. As soon as I got ahead of his wife I sprinted away. I was late for work.
At the shop I was chatting with my coworker as I unloaded my bike. Up the stairs came the guy from the bike path. He did not have his bike, but I recognized him.
"I want to get a bike tuned," he said. "And I want to know if it will take wider tires."
"Oh yeah, it looks like it probably will," I said.
He looked at me strangely. "How do you know that?" he asked.
"I was behind you on the path," I said. I wish I could have made it more mysterious. At least I had that one moment where he thought I had psychic powers.