In what now seems like the perfect expression of their personalities and relationship, Dave and Maura met analog-style. Sans dating apps. IRL. A classic rom-com meet-cute.
I had been riding quite a bit that summer and was slowing working my way up to a far-flung goal of a century ride. That fateful Saturday was my second attempt at 50-miles. Shadows of yesterday’s eyeliner still lingering, I set off on the Great Allegheny Passage on that warm summer morning. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m not going to see anyone out here today, so who cares what I look like.”
*Narrator* She had no idea how wrong she was.
Halfway through, I stopped for a snack and to give my lower back a break. (At the end of my first 50-miler, my back hurt so badly I could barely drive home). I pulled up to a tiny pavilion in Whitsett, PA, which I’d scoped as I passed, and noticed a man was sitting at a picnic table on the opposite side.
In a classic introvert move, I sat at the farthest table from him so I wouldn’t disturb his peace.
“What are you riding today?” I remember him asking.
I turned to respond and met the gentle eyes of a scruffy, young man.
“Scruffy” is a euphemism for “biked 100 miles over two days without a shower, and hadn’t shaved in four weeks.” 5 minutes prior, I had already said “hello” to this girl when she passed me going the opposite direction and was completely ignored. Now, she was sitting down well within chatting distance, a lot closer than what Maura’s story implies.
I don’t remember much of our conversation, other than we discovered we both lived in Pittsburgh (okay, not that strange, judging by proximity), we had a mutual friend (weird!), and that we had parked at the SAME trailhead parking lot. On the same day. At the same time. Crazy, right?!
As we enjoyed our snacks and chatted, I thought back to my New Year’s resolution. To say “yes.”
“You have to get this guy’s number! Or at least, get his name!”
Eventually, another couple rode up to the pavilion and started talking with Dave. So, feeling overwhelmed by the thought of waiting around & biking an entire 25 miles back to the parking lot with a stranger (even a cute one), I took off.
Yep, you read that right. I biked away.
Hear me out though! I had a plan.
I knew we both parked at the same trailhead and assumed he was a better cyclist than me, so I figured we’d meet up at the end. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. He caught up to me about halfway through, but we rode at our own paces until we reached our cars. I started to put my bike on the rack when I saw him pull in, panniers full of camping equipment.
By now, I’m basically shaking. I know I can’t let this guy get away, but I am quite literally the opposite of suave. I’m running over the perfect way to give him my number without being creepy or presumptuous as I notice him start to walk my way. I smile up at him as he passes me a business card from his car, asking if we could ride together sometime. (I guess that’s because I literally ran away from him earlier, huh?) I think the only words that escaped my mouth were “Sure!” or “Cool.” Either way, I’m quite sure it was monosyllabic.
What I remember with clarity is my drive home. I rolled down the windows, blasted some summer tunes, and peeled out of the parking lot that afternoon. I might as well have been driving a Ferrari, because I just got a cute guys number!!!! (By now, you’re probably thinking this is the plot of a cheesy, 2000s rom-com…)
In the end, we did go on that bike-date…
And just over four years later, we went back to that pavilion – yep, the one in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania – to get married 🙂
Sometimes, the grandest adventures start with smudged eyeliner and a scruffy beard, don’t they?