"So," you ask, "what did ya' think about this Craig guy as a compatible riding companion?"
Before I answer, you should know, if you don't already, that I am one helluva picky person. I'm picky when it comes to food. I'm picky when it comes to how I spend my time. And I'm particularly picky when it comes to relationships. Although some have suggested that life might be a little easier if I were to be a little less picky, I'm unwilling to compromise. I'm a firm believer that my unwavering steadfastness is vital at holding me true to my principles and enabling me to live the life I want to live.
I've had riding partners before. Some have been great and others have been satisfactory. But Craig really belongs in a bucket of his own. Craig is, by far, the most enjoyable riding buddy I've ever had. Who woulda thought riding with a happily married man, let alone one with differing world views, would be so wonderful?
Let's dig into some specifics to support the establishment of Craig's very own bucket.
Craig values the importance of communication: Before we left for our trip, Craig and I discussed the importance of communication. We talked about how important it is to discuss any petty little things that might surface well before those petty issues evolve into monstrous ones. Although by the end of the trip, we couldn't identify anything that pissed each other off, we both recognize that we'll likely find something that irritates us about the other person. For example, Craig may grow tired of my efforts to engage him in playfulness, or I may tire of Craig's obnoxiously loud singing when he rides his bicycle. I'm comfortable bringing up any issues should they arise, and I'm confident that Craig will as well.
Craig is full of good knowledge and resources: Craig is a voracious reader...of ads, oddly enough. For some reason, I figured Craig just happened to chance upon my ad (see The Happily Married Man Rides the Olympic Peninsula). I had no idea that Craig regularly reads ads. All. Day. Long. He reads all sorts of ads -- biking ones and ones that have nothing to do with bikes. While I found myself laughing every time Craig mentioned something he read in an ad, I fully appreciate the value in the ad reading. After all, Craig and I would not have found each other had Craig not read my companions wanted ad.
Craig finds humor in the uncomfortable: Craig and I are plutonic riding buddies. Nothing more, nothing less. Before we left for the trip, I asked Craig how he wished to respond to people who assumed we were something other than plutonic buddies -- such as a husband and wife, or perhaps even a father and daughter (egads)! Craig's response was "let's have fun with it." Nice! (And Craig thinks he isn't playful! What a goose!)
Craig rides downhill at my pace: This is my most favorite reason why Craig deserves a bucket of his very own. Craig and I ride downhill at roughly the same pace! I'm not entirely sure why our downhill paces are equal, as Craig is taller and bigger than I am. The likely cause is the friction in Craig's wider and more heavily treaded tires. I guess I'll be riding my skinnies in South America!
Craig is a strong rider, a capable person, and a team player: Although we joked about the approach of yet another climb and what not, Craig didn't complain one single bit. I've ridden with riders before who have endlessly whined and that whining just drains the fun out of a ride. Craig is also a very capable person. Should I or we get stuck in a jam, I'm confident that Craig and I can count on each other to eat our way out of that jam.
Craig has a great wife: I like Craig's wife. And while this may come as no surprise, Craig likes his wife, too.
Craig looked out for me (and I looked out for Craig): At one point when I was riding behind Craig on our descent down Hurricane Ridge, Craig's bandana flew off, unbeknownst to Craig. I circled back (which included a slight uphill climb, might I add) to grab Craig's bandana.
At two points in the trip when Craig was riding behind me, Craig stopped to pick up a small bottle of sunscreen and a black hat that Craig thought had fallen off my bike. As it turns out, neither of these were mine, but I very much appreciated the thought.
(Now that I think of it, I think Craig just wanted some sunscreen and a hat and was using me as an excuse to comfortably claim both these items.)
Craig and I have a mutual desire to want to be less annoyingly nice: Craig and I both suffer from a disease called overleepolitusness. In recognition that being overly polite, all the time, becomes annoying real quickly, Craig proposed that we use a coin to help us become more decisive -- something to the effect of "whoever flips heads makes the decision." Already practicing my not-so-politedness, I told Craig that while his idea was great, using a coin sucked.
Instead, I proposed that we find some sort of roadside tchotchke* to flip instead -- something to the effect of "whoever flips the tchotchke onto its heads makes the decision." To which Craig added, "and then that person has to carry the tchotchke on his or her handlebars as a trophy of such decision." We both agreed that we should find some stupid roadside tchotchke to help us in being less annoyingly nice, and so we both spent the entire trip searching for such tchotchke.
Alas, in 582 miles of riding, we found absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, our friend Gabbi, who we met on Day 2 of our trip, sent a photo to Craig via text showing him the roadside prizes she had acquired.
|Gabbi's tchotchke collection, which she carries on her handlebar bag.|
Hmmm, does my little eye spot a partially used cigarette?
Way to go, Gabbi. You obviously swept the roadside of all of god's little tchotchke's. Just rub it in our faces. I guess we just don't have the tchotchke-finding skills.
Despite all of Craig's compatible companion strengths, there is one area where Craig could be a more compatible companion. In accordance with the value that Craig and I place in communication, I've already shared this feedback with Craig. The gist of the feedback is as such: I am a single woman with lots to offer a certain special someone. As a compatible companion, Craig must be an enabler in helping me to find a significant other.
Case in point...on our first day of riding along the Olympic Discovery Trail, Craig and I came to a spot in the trail that forked. The fork wasn't well marked, and so we stopped to talk through which of the forks made the most sense. Meanwhile, along rides a man on a bicycle. He sees us scratching our heads, stops his bike, and offers to help.
This gentleman is unbelievably good looking. He is not wearing a shirt, and he is RIPPED! Seeing this man's chest got me all hot'n'bothered. Thankfully I was wearing sunglasses so he couldn't see me fixate on his pecs. In exchanging our pleasantries, the hot guy tells us that he came to Port Townsend from Florida (which of course, got Craig all hot'n'bothered) for the Race to Alaska. Damn, he's a bicycle-riding sailor who seeks adventure! I'm starting to hyperventilate. All I want to do is to jump this guy.
I give Craig "the eye," but Craig is clueless. He just stands there...like someone who has met someone else from his home state...and participates in the conversation. Dude, Craig, buzz off! Scram like a cockroach! Give me a chance to spend some one-on-one time with my future husband! Alas, we wind down our conversation, and the ripped biker-sailing dude rides off...never to be seen again. Woe is me. My future is shattered.
After my "little talk" with Craig, he now realizes that if he wants to be my cycling friend, he has to not be a hindrance to my romantic life. As such, Craig has come up with the following (in his words):
I think in Argentina and Chile I should be Tío Ramón. You must present me as your billionaire playboy uncle that has raised you since my brother (your father) died in the First Iraq War. Then I will be in a position to foster any relationship you may wish to pursue. We can work out the details of the scam while riding the endless dusty road.
Did I not say that Craig is the most enjoyable riding buddy I've ever had? Worthy of his own bucket? Yeah, he's a keeper!
* I am going to write tchotchke ten more times in hopes that I commit the spelling of the word to memory.
And another one for good luck...