A while back I was checking in on a popular blog for bike riders called Fat Cyclist. I commented on a guest post because it was a really entertaining story that struck a cord. In general the guest writer lives in a trailer park and rides an old Schwinn road bike to get away from in all. TJ does not even own any cycling gear much past his beloved old steel bike. After a exchange with a well heeled rider that becomes a bit awkward he later encounters the same rider on the road and summons his all to beat him back to town. (Here is that great writing if you want to see for yourself.)
For non-bike riders you can compare the tale to any underdog breaking through in sports. Think Rocky on wheels and witnessed is only the two riders. Think Bad News Bears winning it all. Wait...think of having your own personal 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team miracle on ice.
Not long after the writer of that post, Tim Joe Comstock, commented on one of my blog posts. Over a number of months we began communicating to each other not just on cycling, but on music, theology, and life in general. Not only did we discover similar interest in many parts of life, there have also been notes in both directions simply to encourage each other. As time passed I came to understand Tim Joe lived on the east coast of Florida near Daytona. It just so happened I needed to head in that general direction recently for a few days work.
About a month before my trip I contacted Tim Joe to see if I could visit for a bike ride. I just thought it would be a cool idea to go for a spin and spend some time in conversation. I think he was surprised, but he said yes. He may have wondered if I was only checking to see if he really is a poor guy living in a trailer park. I simply thought it would be a shame to think he was good enough to connect via the internet, but not worth taking time when passing that direction.
So last Saturday it came time to cross paths and we met at Tim Joe's place where he and the yellow dog live. He was warm and welcoming. Over the course of a few hours we talked about our history, our lives, kids, marriage, Jesus, writing and other stuff. We asked each other questions, like when TJ asked why I call myself a Christ-follower instead of a Christian. The hours together felt more like minutes.
In the middle part of the visit we went for the planned bike ride. Our route took us out of town and to the sea. It was and out-and-back ride so we stopped at the turn and at enjoyed a few moments on a pier looking out over the waterway.
On the way back we noticed that despite several ninety degree turns, it seemed we were bearing into a headwind the entire way. The easy conversation at the start of the return trip gave way to bearing down to fight into the wind. I noticed Tim Joe slide into his drops and push a little harder to maintain the pace we had set. We both kept kicking on with resolve.
Rolling on those stretches of wide open road the wind could have it's way, but we were enjoying the time together too much to deeply mind. On some stretches we rode single file breaking the wind for the rider in the draft. In a few other spots we went shoulder to shoulder letting each other know we were hanging in doing the work.
Later that night I thought about how the wind heading home was a bit of a metaphor. It was easier to ride with the two of us together. And when there is two we can bear the burden for each other and yet at other times it is only necessary to be at the shoulder as a reminder that we are not alone.
Tim Joe has had some breaks that could make a lesser man bitter, yet he lives above his circumstances. He has become a better man from life. He is confident and solid.
I admire many things about my friend, Tim Joe Comstock. I was pleased to be at his shoulder. I was proud when he called me friend and I would ride into the wind with him any day. It was a very good day for a ride.