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Friday, June 10, 2016

Leon's Moving On

Finally reunited with our Texas transplant pal, Marathon Man (aka Leonard, Leon, Slim-ass) for a long bike ride yesterday. Bobbie tagged along as far as Ridgway, then had to turn back in order to make a dental appointment. Just as well, Leon and I had a grudge match to settle that she wanted no part of.

Leon, a recently retired Post Office worker, wandered up from Austin on an extended junket with a goal of shaking up his life with a little "change-is-good." In the spring of 2012, while camped in the cramped quarters of a CJ 7 Jeep, he fell in love with Lovely Ouray's mountainous setting and soothing hot springs. I crossed paths with Leon at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool when he inquired if I knew of a cheap place to rent in town... said he wanted to spend the summer doing some high altitude training to see if it might improve his marathon times. We had a downstairs studio apartment available at the time, but I was a little taken aback by his beady, narrow-set eyes, long tangle of grey hair, and scruffy, square-jawed beard... pretty much a "mug-shot" without the number placard. I told him we lived just a five minute walk away and sent him over to meet Bobbie and have a look at the studio apartment, quickly dialing as he sauntered off.

Hey there, how's it going?
Not bad. Hows work?
Ok, it's a slow day at the pool.
What's up?
I just wanted to give you a heads-up, or maybe a warning (nervous hee hee) that there will be scary looking dude showing up at the front door in a couple of minutes. 
I told him we had a vacancy in our studio... so maybe, if he doesn't kill you, you could show him around.
What's his name?
Uh, I don't know...
Where's he from?
Uh, we didn't get around to that yet. Anyway, he's living out of his Jeep and wants to stay the summer to train for marathons. He's a runner, so I think he'd be ok. I've never met a runner who's an axe murderer.

And thus, a friendship is born.

 Leon stayed through the winter, but found it hard to train in  Ouray's snow, ice, and cold. So he moved up the road to Montrose where the climate was more to his liking. 

 Last summer Leon came up for one of our favorite backroad bike rides, to Ridgway, then a grunt up Log Hill to the Pleasant Valley overlook. At the bottom of Log Hill, I kind of challenged him by mentioning that he probably couldn't beat my best time to the top. He agreed, like the sand-bagging, lying SOB that he is, then promptly kicked my ass and best time by two minutes. It was all I could do to keep his skinny butt in sight... not that pretty, if ya know what I mean. 

 Having been humiliated, I've been itching for a rematch ever since. But it never worked out till yesterday. Problem is, I let slip a couple of weeks ago that I had been riding up Camp Bird Road and made it all the way to Yankee Boy Basin. Well that was a big mistake. You never tip your hand to an adversary. The element of surprise was gone. Leon promptly upped his miles, started training harder, you know, cheating! 

We rolled in to the bottom of Log Hill. It was hot, so I took off my helmet and chugged a half bottle of Gatorade. Setting my stopwatch, I counted down... Five, four, three, two, one, GO!

We rode together for all of a quarter mile. Ha, I'm ready this time. But then Leon began to scream and holler, and slowly pull away. In spite of all my hill training, he broke me right out of the gate. 

Halfway up, Leon was out of sight... on his way to a new personal best. A full two and a half minutes quicker than your's truly, he waited for me to slog across the finish line.   
Leon. You sandbagging Son of a bitch!

A victory pose
A victory nap


The sting of defeat is softened by incredible views

Too tired to lift my bike overhead, I settle for a second place pose... 

It's all good... Maybe next year.
 Come July, Leon will be heading back to his old stomping grounds in Austin, Texas, an free isle of liberal mindset in a sea of Christian conservatives. There, he'll tweak his Chevy Suburban with over 170,000 miles into a camping machine that holds the entirety of his earthly possessions. When done, he'll embark on another Freedom Road sojourn to the great Northwest, off and on biking the 101 north from San Fran to Portland. 
Adidos an vaya con dios, my tough, long-haired hippie friend! 


  1. .... good post Mark, we are still laughing....maybe Leon will end up in the "lower Russian River"area before long, he would fit right in for sure even though you know the Bay Area has the biggest concentration of "intelligent"people on the planet we also allow people to do there own thing but it is getting awfully crowded, the Redwood forrest though aren't full yet
    Have to get to that overlook this fall for sure.
    Take care

  2. Hey Mark, perhaps you need a new bike ;-)
    Glad we got to meet Leonard. Interesting guy. Not surprised to hear he is planning his next adventure.

  3. Are you sure he's really going back to Texas? I heard something about a guy that sounds just like him going to the Andes to train for some tete-a-tete with a guy in Ouray, He fits the description, and one of my friends says he looked like a force not to be reckoned with.

  4. you seem to keep running into ex postal workers-- they are all kind of scary! rid eon-- Walden creek rv steve

  5. Leonard, you rock! And you too, Mark!

  6. Haha i'm sure that's EXACTLY how your call to Bobbie went... too funny

    "I just wanted to give you a heads-up, or maybe a warning (nervous hee hee) that there will be scary looking dude showing up at the front door in a couple of minutes."



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