But, hey, what are friends for?
And that's a good question, although probably too big a question for a single blog entry. Probably too big for a book or two, as well.
So we will narrow the question to this: What are cycling friends for?
Because most people who have lives outside of cycling (I've heard that such a thing exists) probably have a different set of friends there. My friend outside of cycling is a pink unicorn named Amber, who sings beautifully and smells of hyacinth. Ah, sweet Amber ...
My cycling friends, on the other hand, often smell pretty bad. Sometimes they wear pink. None of them has horns growing out of their forehead.
The above-mentioned Maurice, however, sings, and this is one of the things that makes him a great cycling friend.
The summer of 2001 and 2002, Maurice rode BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia) with the Randowife and me. For those that have never heard of BRAG, it's similar to RAGBRAI in that you cross a state with a whole bunch of people biking at various speeds and utilizing a wide range of skillsets, stopping often to eat, take pictures, or just sit around. Usually, you only do about 50-70 miles per day. At night, there's a cage fight for the 14 hotel rooms in town.
In 2001, we rode a northern loop, starting in Rockmart before going up to Rome and Dalton, touching North Carolina, and then meandering southeast to the finish at Lake Hartwell, where we dipped our wheels into South Carolina. Lots of climbing followed by good descending, with varied terrain and lovely scenery.
In 2002, the Randowife and I rode a tandem across the southern portion of the state. If you've never been to South Georgia, it is primarily timber, corn, and livestock, and there are no hills. You can ride along for hours and hours looking to the horizon, where you will see more timber, corn, and livestock.
Typical conversation: "Oh, look! Timber."
"Yeah. Maybe soon we will see corn or livestock."
"I gotta pee."
This was the kind of ride that proved Maurice's merit as a great cycling friend, because he invented -- and excelled at -- the game of "Let's Sing Old Songs But With Cycling-Oriented Lyrics." This should have been a big seller this past Christmas, by the way, but marketing is apparently having a hard time with the name.
For example, as we rode the little 20-miler that enabled us to touch the Alabama border on the first day, Maurice began singing (to the tune of "Oh, Suzanna"):
"Oh, Lance Armstrong, won't you pull for me? 'Cause I'm bound for Alabama with a bandage on my knee."
(I don't remember why Maurice had a bandage on his knee, by the way, but it was obviously fortuitous in a lyrical fashion.)
This went on for a week. You would think that it would have gotten annoying, but it didn't. Maybe the 100-degree days cooked our brains, but I prefer to think that it was Maurice's inventiveness and plucky good humor.
That, and he can pull you along at 20 mph for hours on end like a freight train.