I wondered what Brad would go for after he lost interest in making vast sums of money betting on oil futures. I never dreamed he would land where he did. Although in college he had been a runner, a bowler, and tennis player, and although his Army training required a certain maintenance of fitness, our work was sedentary (it even said so in our job descriptions). Brad was a heavy cigarette smoker. He dabbled periodically with working out, but it lacked the velcro needed to secure his attention for long.
One morning he called me up for our daily telephone conversation about work and other matters equally important and started talking about bicycles. I couldn't believe my ears.
This is a topic I know something about, with which I have a lot of road-rash and mechanical experience, and in which I am thoroughly interested. This was a conversation in which I actually listened to every word Brad said.
Brad plunged into bicycling with his usual enthusiasm and fascination. He was riding a bicycle from the stable of another NEA employee, Richard, who worked on the same projects as Brad and me. Richard commuted by bicycle and had the intense focus on self-preservation that bicycle commuters must adopt to survive. Richard enjoyed his rides to and from the office, of course, but was several years beyond the unbridled excitement of a new convert. Still, Richard (a worthy friend himself) accompanied Brad on an eight-mile Saturday ride that took them most of the day; Brad had much to learn and much strength and endurance to gain. Also, there was that smoking thing.
Brad soon bought a bicycle, a helmet, and a cyclometer. He nagged Richard to go for weekend rides. He nagged his wife, Elke, to ride. He plunged into the mathematical exercises of tracking his speed, time, and distance. He was thrilled to watch the weekly improvement in his statistics. Richard mused during this phase that if Brad maintained that kind of progress, within two more months Brad would be traveling by bicycle at a consistent rate of 45 miles per hour.