Dum, da-dum-dum (Dragnet music). This is the city...or perhaps we should say the highway between cities, where a most puzzling and amusing thing happened on today's Saturday club ride. Our name is...call us Jae-Rae, that geezer couple on the tandem recumbant. This is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Saturday morning, 8:15 AM. The Freewheelers Bicycle Club riders assemble at the usual Pensacola parking lot. It is decided to ride to Lillian, Alabama, to enjoy the beautiful water view crossing over the bridge from one state to another. One of our members has not come to the ride start. We know he lives in Lillian, and decide to call him in case he would like to join us there. "Waldo" (not his real name) answers the phone and says he would be delighted to join us at the foot of the Florida-Alabama Highway 98 bridge.
We make the turn from Chiefs Way/Old Corry Road onto Navy Boulevard and down to Highway 98, where we head west towards Lillian. It is a perfect spring day, clear, temperature in the 70's, blue skies, fresh green grass and trees, colorful wildflowers and waterlillies all along the roadside. The warm, fresh air is intoxicating.
Even better, we have a new member riding with us. The ride leader makes a Brief Scenic Detour through a neighborhood off the highway so we can look at the nearby water, sparkling blue. We turn back onto the highway after less than a few blocks. We're getting close to the Alabama bridge.
Someone is riding a bicycle east, towards us. We recognize her as "Mrs. Waldo," and call out. She meets us and asks, "Where's Waldo? He was ahead of me."
"Wasn't he going to meet us at the bridge?" Yes, but he decided to ride ahead and meet us on the highway.
This results in brief confusion until we quickly realize that Waldo must have missed us while we were on our Brief Scenic Detour. Uh oh.
Mrs. Waldo calls her husband on the cell phone, but he doesn't answer, so she leaves a fairly frustrated message.
Since our club motto is Descido Nemo, (leave no one behind), Jae-Rae decide to find Waldo.
We tell everyone else to go ahead to Alabama and enjoy the view. We head back east, expecting to see Waldo at any minute. It is such a beautiful spring day, we can't help but enjoy our search for the Vanished Rider. We pedal for miles, looking for a moving helmeted speck just ahead.
We spy a couple of bike riders, one in a parking lot who might be Waldo, but wasn't, and another one headed back west. We yell "WALDO!" at him, but he just waves, happy to let us know he is not the prodigal peddler.
Finally...after about 10 miles we reach Fairfield Drive, and there is Waldo. He is peddling back west, and we cross the highway to meet. Waldo says he bicycled all the way to the ride start in Pensacola, and never saw us. Says it was getting warm, and was on his way home. We call the other Freewheelers waiting in Alabama and tell them the suspect has been apprehended and we're bringing him in. Jae-Rae enjoy the ride back, as the roadside continues to be warm, green and bright with wildflowers.
We make our way back to the Alabama bridge and across the water, where everyone is glad to see Waldo safe and sound. Waldo's cell phone, though, is implicated in this case, as it neither rang loudly enough or vibrated vigorously enough to turn Waldo around. The moral of this story is: when you ride, ride with a buddy who also has a cell phone, in case you vanish. And remember to have friends like the Freewheelers, who will look for you!