Bennie pushed the bike hard as he crested this next rise. A vista opened before him and he felt that blissful moment when gravity took over the heavy work, and he just had to guide the bike safely down the winding descent which would lead him out of the Berkshires. His ride back would be comparatively easy after these weeks of climbing north through the picturesque mountain ranges of New York, Vermont and Massachussets. But he feared the greater difficulty would be facing his fiancée upon his return. Actually she was his former fiancée.
It wasn't that she didn't have reason to suspect the change in marital status. It was she, after all, who technically left the relationship. However, it was him who left her behind on what was supposed to be a week long bike tour from Montauk to Woodstock. It was a last fling before their wedding, which was supposed to happen this weekend. He wasn't sure what his future held, but was certain it didn't involve a wedding anytime soon. No one even really knew where he was. He preferred it that way.
The ride began the first day after school let out. Bennie and Lynne were both teachers, and decided a week of fun and beautiful scenery were just the ticket. Three other colleagues were scheduled to join them, but a death in the family caused two of their friends, a married couple, to withdraw. That left Donnie Koller as the proverbial odd man out.
Bennie and Lynne were both experienced riders. They both were avid triathletes, so rides of distances from as little as ten miles to as much as the hundred mile distance Benny had trained for in his first Iron Man the previous year, were taken in stride. Donnie was also a fit and experienced biker, but preferred weekly rides around parks in Manhattan to long rides on country roads. All three them found the idea of a tour from Long Island to Woodstock exciting however, and they set off from Montauk, on the Eastern tip of the island in high spirits.
They finished the first day at Fire Island well ahead of the tour's chase vehicles. The island's terrain was relatively flat, especially along the coast hugging route prepared for them. The going had been easy, and they were checked into their hotel and eating dinner before most of the other riders on the tour arrived. Bennie and Lynne made love that night, even after suffering Donnie's teasing them about it not being fair to leave him out of the evening's recreational activities.
Donnie's banter continued the next morning, and Lynne began to return quips while Donnie's teasing became more and more filled with sexual innuendo. It began to get out of hand when they stopped for lunch at Coney Island that second day, and when Bennie spoke up to stop things before it went too far, he was met with a barrage of ridicule for being a spoil sport. They kept at him as they mounted their bikes, and were hooting and cackling as they sped off while he went through his pre-ride ritual and adjusted his seat.
He knew he would catch them. It was a 40 mile leg that afternoon, across the bridge and along bike paths that led south around the tip of Manhattan and then looped north along the Hudson. Still, his bruised ego left him in no hurry, nor craving their company. He didn't approve of his future wife flirting so aggressively, or his supposed friend hitting on her so openly. Of course they both said it was all in jest, and that Bennie shouldn't be so thin skinned, but it really hadn't looked very innocent. He needed the time to mull things over, and thought perhaps could learn something by how they reacted once he did catch up.
Catching them was easy. Donnie's bike had blown a tire, and he had fallen. He was fiddling with a spare tube when Bennie caught up, but he had hurt his hand and his knee was cut. Ironically, It wasn't an easy spot for the chase cars to reach them, so they were stranded in the middle of the biggest city in the country. Lynne applied first aid while Bennie sorted out the bike.
"The front rim is a bit bent, but you can ride it. The problem is you have the wrong size tube for your tire. Is this the only spare?"
"No, but the other is the same size. Wrong!"
"You should get your knee cleaned, and maybe checked. Can you ride?"
Bennie put him on his own bike, and sent him along with Lynne, while he waited with Donnie's damaged ride. He called the chase cars for help, and they informed Bennie there had been a mishap involving several riders on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. He would have to wait. He checked his phone for a local bike shop, and began walking the limping cycle that way.
An hour later he found the shop. It was very busy. He picked out a new rim, found the correct tube and took out his phone to call Lynne while he waited for a tech. Lynne had texted him that Donnie had managed to ride pretty well, and they had already stopped to get his cuts checked, cleaned and dressed They were en route to the hotel in Westchester.
Bennie waited less than patiently. He even offered to pay a rental fee to use the mounting bench when one was free. It was another 45 minutes until he was on the bike. The bike wasn't worth the wait, It sucked. The frame was too small, the seat was uncomfortable, and the gears were set up all wrong for cross country riding.
"No wonder he always lags behind, his bike is crap" thought Bennie as he lumbered back to the trail through what was now rush hour in New York. He felt his phone buzz, so he stopped at a long light and checked it.
"@ hotel. Call me."
"Hi sweetie, you doing ok?"
"Baby, I'm so sorry you got stuck with this. Donnie is fine, by the way."
"Just sorry that I'm stuck with this? What the hell was that about at lunch."
"Oh baby, stop worrying. Next week you are going to be mine, all mine. And I'm going to be all yours!"
"Oh! So not until next week. I thought being engaged meant we were already promised to be each other's one and only. All mine, all yours, just us."
"Baby, we haven't said 'I do' yet..."
Bennie didn't like the sound of this. This was going someplace bad. He unzipped his jersey and felt for her engagement ring. He hadn't fucked around with the jewelry. He had bought a fuckin rock for her. Only problem was, it fit poorly under tight biking gloves. So when they rode, she would put her ring on the chain he wore around his neck.
"The thing is Bennie, you know I've been fighting pre wedding jitters..."
It was getting worse. Her jitters had been all about not knowing if she could limit herself to one man for the rest of her life.
"And you guys are all strutting around with lumps in your Lycra bike shorts..."
This wasn't happening. It just couldn't be.
"...I want to have one last fling..."
There it was. Shit.
"...I'll stay with Donnie in the hotel tonight. We'll leave your bike in our room. Tomorrow morning, Donnie and I will have a room service breakfast. That way I will have one last night uncommitted. After breakfast, we'll come to your room and talk through it. Then Donnie can get his bike back and we all can go on like before."
She went on to talk about how they were sorry about humiliating me at lunch, but it was actually good because it led to this solution to her nerve thing. The bike tire may have looked like a set up, but it wasn't. Donnie had been hurt and appreciated your taking care of the problem. He was also very thankful to be the guy for my last fling, and wouldn't ever tell anyone, or do anything to lord it over you. Blah blah blah...
"Honey? Bennie! Answer me...Do you?"
"Do I what?"
"Love me enough to let me do this?"
Oh this hurt. Lynne had just carved up Bennie's heart. But he was an Iron Man. He swam a mile in open water, rode a hundred miles on a bike, then ran a marathon in the Mexican sun last summer. That's all he intended to let her see. The Iron Man.
"Sure Lynne. Go ahead. Have your fling. Get laid tonight. Give my best to Donnie."
He hung up, and turned off his phone and went back to the bike shop.
A taxi driver took him to the hotel. He picked up his room key at the desk, then took Donnie's bike to his room. Everything was as she said. His bike was waiting in the room along with the duffle that the chase car had dropped off. He ordered a room service dinner, and while he waited, he put the bent rim back on Donnie's bike with the flat tire. He trashed the new one he had bought. "Mine to trash, I paid for it!"
He didn't lose a wink of sleep. "She asked me if I loved her enough to let her have this. I loved her enough to let her chase her dream. Now she could chase it forever."
He wheeled his bike out, and left his bag at the chase car with a note to the tour operators.
"Your tour is great, but I've decided to break away from the peloton and take a longer tour. Hold my gear for me, I'll pick it up when I get home!"
Bennie had attached panniers to his bike, in which he put a minimum of supplies. He had his bank card, there were ten weeks of summer before work started again, he had a first rate bike, and a twenty four year old body. There was plenty of open road, and nothing to hold him back.
The scheduled ride split the remaining distance to Woodstock into two days. Bennie hit it hard, and even with the extra weight of the panniers made it in one. If he had been anywhere else doing anything else, the angst and heartache of losing his fiancée to a one night stand would have killed him. But on his bike, he focused on riding. Only riding. The weather was perfect, the mid week roads were quiet as he tore up the lower Hudson valley. His body was a furnace firing his legs to pump harder and faster. He devoured lunch, re filled water bottles, and headed on.
He hit Woodstock and stopped for dinner. As Bennie stepped out of the diner, he finally thought of Lynne. He sat in the shade of a stately old oak, and turned on his phone. It began buzzing right away. Dozens texts and phone messages flooded in, with emails and face time requests following right behind. He began to read. Starting with "where r u?" and progressing to frantic professions of love and worry that easily reached the level of hysterical, let me just say she was disturbed. He returned the texts.
"Don't worry. I'm well. Have a nice ride."
The phone rang immediately. He refused the call, and texted back.
"Don't want to talk. Need to ride. Please don't call."
He had barely donned his helmet when it buzzed again.
"Don't shut me out. I needed last night, but now I'm ready for you. Please call."
"You needed last night. I need to ride. Things are different now."
"I asked you to love me enough to just let this go!"
"I did. I loved you enough to let you be happy and have what you wanted. I loved you enough to let it go. I loved you enough to let you go."
"Oh my God! You're in Woodstock! Shit Donnie rides so slow, I'll never catch you. Wait there, I'll catch a ride with the chase car and we can talk. I'll make this up to you, I had no idea you would take it hard! We can deal with this!"
"I'm not taking it hard. There is nothing to make up. It was a choice. You chose. Then I chose. Nothing left to deal with. Don't race to Woodstock, I won't be here. Goodnight."
He slipped on his gloves, and rode north. Damned cell phone GPS. They had put tracking apps on their phones. He decided to leave the GPS in place, but only turn the phone on in short bursts. He rode for another two hours and checked into a hotel.
Lynne was frantic. This had been the shittiest day ever. What was she thinking when she let Donnie talk her into a last fling!? He had really played to her insecurities. The sex had been ok, but...but he wasn't Benny. Donnie was a whiner too. Oh was he getting on her nerves, and now she had him all to herself. And he couldn't ride worth shit! The day was almost over and they had barely begun. Damn it Bennie! Why couldn't you understand and be cool!? Then you left Donnie's bike a mess!
She remembered the pit in her stomach when she went into Bennie's room. The bed was made. So like Bennie to make the bed even when the maids were going to completely strip it later. The bed was restored to pristine, and Donnie's bike was restored to its crappy state from yesterday. Also like Bennie. Leave it exactly as you find it. He found the hotel room pristine, and left it pristine. He found the bike a wreck, and left it a wreck. The real irony of the situation, was that when he first asked her out, she had just left a guy who was a whiny, inconsiderate slob with mediocre skills in bed. Now she was suffering the increasingly annoying Donnie. Talk about an Albatross.
She knew Bennie's phone would be off. If he intended to be cool, he would have been waiting for her. But he was not taking this well, so he would make her work hard to get back to him. He would not want to see her or talk to her. They finally stopped at a bike shop, and Lynn spent all morning texting and calling, as they waited for a new wheel for Donnie's bike. Even though she knew there would be no answer, she was intent that as soon as he flipped it on, he would be flooded with messages from her. Still, as long as there was no indicator on the GPS, she felt more and more isolated. She thought back to the day before, and wondered if Donnie had felt this empty when they put him down at lunch. She imagined he felt this alone and deserted when they left him with the broken bike. They needed to get Donnie someplace where they could take care of the cuts and scrapes, but they should have circled back to Bennie. Then there was the hotel.
She remembered the sweet anticipation of being with a new man for the last time before she married. Donnie looked so good, and was absolutely charming. He wined her and dined her, took her to her room and seduced her. Oh it felt so good. He was smooth, and kissed well. He had a gentle touch, and slid his cock into her throbbing pussy so slow and smooth. He was long. About the same as Bennie, but with an upward curve that was a very novel treat. It raked her insides in a luscious way that was different from Bennie, but not necessarily better. He wasn't nearly as thick as her fiancée, and she missed that fullness.
Then he came. Too soon. She was just getting going, and he tensed up in that age old pose of passion, then went limp all over. She lay beneath the weight of his sated frame, struggling to breath, and wanting. She never wanted with Bennie. When she finally coaxed Donnie to roll off her, he was almost asleep. "This will never do," she thought as she cleaned the sex from his cock with a cool washcloth. The coolness revived him as she had hoped, and she set to work reviving his limp cock with a first rate blow job. What she thought would be an opening to a satisfying round two ended quickly as well, when just as she had him hard and ready to impale her aching-to-come pussy, he exploded in her mouth. This time there was no reviving him, though he woke her for round three sometime in the middle of the night, again coming just as she was getting into it. Then before breakfast, in the shower, he finally rang her chimes. But her satisfaction was shattered when she found Bennie's room empty.
She couldn't leave Donnie alone, but she was tempted to call for the chase car to pick them up. Every time she stopped to wait, she texted Bennie. She texted at lunch. Nothing. When he finally answered after dinner she was amazed at the ground he had covered. She was dismayed at the text exchange. Her fears were confirmed, he had not taken the news well. Dinner was a waste. In spite of her body's need to refuel, she just picked at her plate. Donnie knew better than to disturb her. He left her to sulk, and they slept in separate rooms.
She found it hard to fall asleep. Bennie was on her mind. Her wedding was on her mind. Visions of future children popped up and faded quickly as "might have beens." The next morning she got up early, and left Donnie a text.
"You'll be ok with the group today, I have to try and find Bennie. I'm going ahead to Woodstock."
She also left a text with Bennie.
"Please don't go. I need you. Wait in Woodstock."
Bennie's phone was off. He didn't want to be tracked. He didn't want to talk. He didn't want to text. He wanted to ride. By the time Lynn made it to Woodstock the next day, Bennie was long gone. In fact he was well past Albany, and heading north. Though she was sure his phone was off, she spent the rest of the day calling and texting. Again, sleep eluded her, and the next day, she boarded the return bus for Montauk alone, worried and exhausted.
Lynne passed the next days leaving Bennie every kind of message she could. She spent the nights tossing and turning mulling over regrets and worrying. She worried about Bennie most. He was strong and capable, but he was alone. What if his bike broke like Donnie's had? What if he fell? What if he were hit by a car? Sure he could fix his own bike, and he was a careful rider, but accidents could happen, and there was no chase car. No one even knew he was out there except her, and she had no inkling where exactly he was riding.
Meanwhile, Bennie pedaled feverishly every day. He had turned east around the north shores of Lake Champlain, and into Vermont. He had no trouble sleeping, or anything else. Vermont was filled with amazing things to do on and off the bike, and he even found time to rent a mountain bike at Killington and ride downhill on ski slopes that he had favored on many winter excursions. His mind was filled with clarity, when on the second week of his ride he sent Lynn an email.
"I love you. I always will, but last week you showed a side of yourself I didn't know existed. I can't share my wife. I didn't think you were capable of being unfaithful as a fiancée, now I can't imagine how you will remain faithful as a wife.
I know I told you go ahead and do what you wanted, but the way you told me really gave me no choice. Your mind was made up. I don't hate you for this. I was mad, but I'm over it. I'm won't totally break up with you over this, but I think it is safe to say our relationship has to be downgraded to something less than exclusive. I think it is also in everyone's best interest that we cancel, or at least indefinitely postpone the wedding.
On the bright side, I still haven't moved completely out of my apartment, and can still renew my lease. I will let you know when I'm coming pick up my things from our place...soryy. i guess not calling it "our place" will take some getting used to. You can be there when i drop by if you wish, or go out if you are not comfortable seeing me. At least I won't have to ask you to give the ring back, I still have it."
P.S. I'll let my Mom know, and she can alert our side of the guest list. It will save your Mom the extra hassle.
P.S.S. I won't tell anyone why we are calling it off. You don't deserve that. I will, however say it was your decision. I don't deserve to take the blame either.
Bennie's letter was poison to Lynn. She cried for ours until she could get herself together and call her mother. Of course her mom needed an explanation, and the explanation was hard to give. Thy say the truth hurts. Lynn discovered that's true.
"Lynn, you really messed up big time. Bennie is right. And smart! This all just shows you aren't ready to get married."
"But Mom, I am! I love Bennie, and can't wait to get started on building our life together. I just wanted one more time..."
"Stop it Lynn. That's a cop out. Your time for 'one more time' was over when you said Yes." and let him put that ring on your left hand. Bennie was absolutely right to call off and wait. I admire his patience for not shutting the door totally. I'll make the calls and cancel everyone. We are out a lot of money though, so you will be responsible for repaying our deposits."