Yesterday evening I pedaled along behind the Spouse at the Delaware Park loop. I act as his traffic break, his pace car, and his medic when his new roller blading skills fail him. Sometimes they do. I carry a phone (for 9-1-1) and cash for the hospital snack bar in case we get stuck in the emergency room before dinner. Last night he was skating along just fine and I had the time to look around, to think about something else.
I pedaled along and marveled.
Everyone, EVERYONE on the loop wears technical fitness gear. I saw compression shorts and tops for running, rollerblading, biking, power walking, ambling, and baby carriage pushing. There were sneakers shaped like feet. Running shoes like tiny, complex space ships. Walking sticks made of a fantastic alchemy of carbon fiber, tungsten, and leather. Biking pants with the bike built right in I think. And the bikes – they were lean and elegant, like arrows whirring along the path. The male long distance runners from nearby colleges ran in a line like ducklings wearing absurdly tiny shorts, wee little shoes, and sweat bands. Young women showed off their fitness in glamorous belly baring tops paired with matching low rise yoga crop pants. Everyone looked so…active.
My eyes fell on the Spouse ahead of me. Aside from wrist guards, helmet, and rollerblades, he had on an ancient pair of Carhartt shorts and an old long sleeve Osterville t-shirt. The shorts were a little baggy. The t-shirt flapped in the wind of his not-so-swift passage. Looking sharp, I thought. A 70-year old runner passed us in his compression gear, his stringy legs flexing in the shiny shorts. His thin chest evident in his tight running top. A bike whizzed past, biking shorts, Camelback, aerodynamic helmet and all. As always, the biker oogled my awesome ride. Jealous.
Who wouldn’t covet my smooth park ride? It is a 2005 Kulana Huli one-speed cruiser. It is substantial at 40 or 50 pounds. Its sweeping handle bars stretch back nearly to the wide, sofa-like seat where yesterday I lounged in my unraveling Levi’s 501 cutoffs. My garden Crocs fit perfectly on the giant rubber pedals and last night the out-of-round white wall tires made a happy buzz on the asphalt as we lumbered around the park loop.
I fretted a bit, pedaling along among the appropriately suited fitness herd with their technical gear, following the brave Spouse as he learns to roller blade, am I any less fit in my cut offs? Do my Crocs and my one-speed cruiser make me less healthy? Does it matter that I had a nice dinner, a glass of late summer Rosé, and then wandered over to the park in what I happened to have on? Would the Spouse be a better roller blader if he wore shorts at least a little related to sports?
We are never going to find out. I like my Kulana Huli. I love my cutoffs. And the wine is ok too. Furthermore, the Spouse is never, not ever, going to wear spandex compression shorts to roller blade. At the very least because Carhartt canvas is really, really good at preventing road rash…