On rereading this nearly seven year old post I’m struck by how nervous I was meeting someone not like myself. Recovering super-obese people often have problems adjusting to life at a normal size, and its clear something that wouldn’t have caused a moment’s thought in a thinner person – meeting someone a generation younger than yourself – caused me stress. When a fat person gets struck as often as I was every handshake is viewed as a potential punch. Being me, I turned my fear into an essay. 

Seven years I’m still friends with Bautieri, and he’s since married and become a father. And I’m a lot more comfortable around other people. 


“Crabbed age and youth
Cannot live together
Youth is full of pleasance,
Age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn,
Age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave,
Age like winter bare;
Youth is full of sport,
Age’s breath is short;
Youth is nimble, age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold,
Age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and age is tame….”

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people online before I’d met them in person. And it’s nearly always been a pleasure to meet someone with whom I’ve exchanged electronic correspondence. Certainly so in the case of cyclists.

But I had some concerns this morning as I drove out to Harrisburg to meet “Bautieri”, a poster to Bike Forums. One was because this was going to be a ride on Excelsior, my Trek Navigator. Ex and I haven’t ridden together in two months. Another worry was that the ride was to be on the Stony Creek Trail, which is considerably rockier than most trails I’ve traveled.

But my biggest doubt was about Bautieri himself. No, I didn’t think him a nutcase, or dangerous in any way. From all I could determine beforehand, he seemed an intelligent, level-headed young man.

And the last two words explain the concern. Bautieri was a young man. Very young. As in ‘young enough to be my son’ young. See the picture alongside this posting to understand just how young Bautieri is. I’d graduated high school before he was born.

“What am I going to say to this guy?” I thought. “What are we going to talk about?” Was I going to bore him? Would I slip into “old man giving advice to young man” mode? Would he turn out to be as empty-headed as I find many young people to be?

As usual, I worry too much. Bautieri and I hit it off. We talked bikes and other topics for 23 miles, the years between us melting away. Yes, he’s faster than me and a better cyclist, but I tried my best to keep up while bouncing from rock to rock. “Youth is nimble, age is lame….”

I did catch up with Bautieri at one point, but I wish I hadn’t. My companion decided to ride over an enormous pile of stone on the side of the trail while waiting for me. As I passed him I turned my head to ask him to ride over it again, when I heard from behind the stone pile “I’ve taco’d my wheel.” Fifteen minutes of adjustments and banging the rim with a rock put the wheel into ridable shape, but we turned around and went back to the trailhead as a precaution against further problems. Bautieri’s bike is headed for the shop, not the trail, and so we headed back to my new friend’s home for dinner.

Afterwards, as I drove home, I reflected on the day’s ride. I had fun riding my bike, and that made me young at heart, I thought. Being young at heart, I could certainly ride with Bautieri again, and he seemed to want to ride with me in the future. In fact, I could ride with anyone. And nothing is less like crabbed age than that.