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IPFS News Link • General Opinion

A Beaten Biker & the San Antonio Mystery Woman


 It was the summer of 1990. I had returned from studying in England and was taking my third bicycle trip across country. I had ridden from San Diego to the center of Texas without taking a day off, sleeping rough or staying in the cheapest of cheap motels across the Southwest deserts, typically filled with migrant workers and their families at that time of year. My body had accumulated the normal assortment of scrapes, contusions, sprains, and sunburns that were normal on a trip of that length. Torrential rains in Texas that month along with the high winds that came with them left me creaking through the flat landscape barely holding a 10 MPH pace. Approaching San Antonio from the west I came upon a swanky hotel, an Omni or Westin, and deciding it was time for a mid-continent tune up of bicycle body and soul. I pulled into the hotel parking lot with the idea of a few days of healing of body, truing of wheels, and R&R.

            There was a strip mall was a couple hundred yards west of the hotel, back in the direction from whence I had ridden, and the bookstore there had an attractive brunette of roughly my age, owlish glasses, with whom I found myself chatting as she stacked her put-away cart. When (perhaps from a desire to prolong the conversation rather than real curiosity) I asked her if she had a book recommendation to keep me busy for a few days, she with no hesitation reached onto the cart and picked up a book to hand me: Reality is Not What It Used to Be, by Walter Truitt Anderson, a Berkeley Professor. I did not know if she gave me it because she had read and appreciated it, or if it was simply the nearest book to her she could hand over to get rid of the strange guy dressed in Lycra with cleats on his bicycle shoes.