I was looking down for my water bottle as we went around a curve on our tandem bike when my wife suddenly yelled, “Watch where you’re going!”
I looked up just in time to see a couple crossing the road in front of us. “Why’d they go to the other side of the road,” I wondered aloud.
My wife whacked my helmet. “You idiot!” she shouted. “You were heading right for them. That’s why they moved over. So you wouldn’t run them over.”
Oops. My bad
And then I had an even worse thought. I suddenly realized who the two startled pedestrians were. “Oh, my gosh,” I moaned. “I almost ran over Muffet!”
Yep, former Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw and her husband Matt. She may be the most beloved person in these parts and I almost put tire tracks on her feet — or, far worse, almost knocked her and Matt into Swanson School’s baseball backstop.
Of course, I had to think of what the headlines might have read:
— Coaching Legend Injured By Senile Cyclist
— Muffet Banged Up By Biker Whose Wife Testifies Against Him
Or maybe I would have been “lucky” and Muffet would have clotheslined me with one of her arms while protecting herself and her husband.
— Muffet 1, Moor 0: Wily Walker Propels Preoccupied Pedaler
I just know that I wasn’t going to look good in any headlines about that kind of incident. Muffet will always be a god around here. And I would have been viewed as a goof at best and a goon by many.
A few miles later as we weaved around different neighborhoods and my wife kept reminding me of my bad steering …
(Did you hear about the police officer who pulls over a guy on the front of a tandem bike with nobody in the other seat? “Hey, buddy,” the cop says, “Did you know your wife fell off about a half mile back?” The guy looks relieved. “Thanks goodness,’’ he sighs. “For a moment, I thought I was going deaf.”)
… we suddenly found ourselves coming up behind Muffet and Matt — with no time for them to dive into any bushes.
“We’re so sorry,’’ my wife yelled out to them as we came up beside them and probably scared them half to death. “He (meaning me) wasn’t paying any attention back there.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say so I just yelled out, “Hey McGraws.”
They didn’t say anything — either too shocked, alarmed or ticked off to reply.
(I bought our tandem on consignment several years ago after a couple gave up on it —and each other. “Their marriage was in trouble,” the bike shop owner said. “The guy thought that if they spent time together on a tandem, it might help them reconcile. It didn’t work. After only riding it 50 miles, they split up. We call it the divorce bike.”)
We rode on. “At least Muffet doesn’t know who we are with our helmets and sunglasses on,” my wife said.
“I wish,” I replied. “I’ve slowed down on my other bike and talked to her a few times when I’ve seen her jogging with a friend. She knows.”
I thought of all her admirers, many of them senior citizens who loved how Muffet and her players made them feel a part of the team.
I suddenly visualized yet another headline:
— Cyclist Recovering After Numerous Canes Thrust Into His Spokes
I wonder if Muffet would visit me in the hospital under those circumstances. After my little tandem joke about the woman falling off, my wife might not.