The cyclist

There are overnight guests at the Davison house on a relatively frequent basis.

And because of the outgoing, gregarious nature of my wife, Wendy, they’re sometimes brand new friends — literally.

Such was the case again last Friday evening, when Wendy went to Town and Country Supermarket in Houston and happened to notice a young man standing outside the store who was obviously passing through on his bicycle. His bike was one of those specialized rigs, with a couple of storage bags mounted on either side in back and front.

He was looking at his phone when Wendy asked if she could help. He said he was trying to find the city park so he could camp there for the night. Next thing you know, he had been invited to stay at our house instead.

“Really?” he replied in surprised delight.

Wendy called me at work and asked if I minded having some company. From my experience, these things tend to work out well.

“Again?” I said. “Of course not.”

His name was Trevor, and I never got his last name because it wasn’t relevant, anyway. He was 28, and hailed from Petaluma, Calif., a town of about 57,000 people just north of the Bay Area in the heart of Northern California’s “tech” country.

Trevor was indeed a cyclist passing through Houston, and was on his second cross-country “tour” on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail that stretches on mostly rural highways across the U.S. from Astoria, Ore., on the west coast to Yorktown, Va., on the east coast.

Yep, second tour — on a 4,200-mile-plus route traversing across parts of 10 states. My first “tour” of that sort is likely to never happen.

Anyway, Trevor is about 5-foot-11 and probably weighs about 140 pounds, and looked like the part he was playing as a two-time transcontinental bicycle trekker. He turned out to be a very intelligent, thoughtful, introspective and friendly individual with a lot of viewpoints I either shared or admired, and not surprisingly, conversation that night was great.

Things Trevor made a point of mentioning were his disdain for social media and the rampant overuse of it and personal technology. He said he had no social media presence and liked it that way.

He explained his view of Facebook this way:

“People get a greatly skewed viewpoint of how others live by looking at it all the time. Most of what people post is, like, the one good moment of their day, so it’s easy to think, ‘wow, they live a great life and here I am struggling.’

“What people don’t consider is that nobody posts anything about their hassle with a flat tire, or their argument with their spouse or their run-in at work. It depicts this wonderful world void of trouble — unlike your own real life.”

Trevor does own an iPhone, but uses it sparingly, primarily for necessities (like finding city parks in fly-over country) and listening to various podcasts while peddling for hours on end.

He had another fascinating take with regard to the way so many people are seemingly always texting or thumbing around on a cell phone screen:

“People often do that even while you’re in a conversation with them, and I’ve decided that’s just plain rude and I won’t do it. It’s like, ‘you’re not entertaining me enough at this moment, so I’m going to add a little more stimulation so I can feel the way I think I should.’

“And, man, the way people react when that thing makes a sound when a message comes in. I’ve seen where research shows there’s a release of endorphins and a person’s pulse increases. It could just be a canned announcement from your carrier or some other mundane message, but it’s all about that sound; it causes this overblown anticipation as if something actually mattered. It has been compared to the rush a chronic gambler gets.”

Trevor concluded his argument against being “married to a device” by saying he understands people completely have the right to do that.

“But that doesn’t make it good,” he said.

Trevor said he isn’t keen on continuing to live within a stone’s throw of the Bay Area, and was looking into moving to Missoula, Mont., Asheville, N.C., or one of a few other up-and-coming medium-sized cities around the U.S.

I told him I could relate and that my wife and I used to live in Seattle, but “gave up on the whole urban thing in 1998.”

We talked about how bad traffic and crime are getting in the cities and how it’s no longer a picnic in rural America, but it’s certainly not nearly as bad.

Trevor is vegan, and it was a pleasure watching him build an impressive meal in a bowl made up of tomatoes, tofu, humus and other ingredients, and then scoop it up with veggie crackers and chips. He also ate a sweet potato Wendy baked for him, and being the courteous, respectful and realistic guest he was, he didn’t mind while we downed some top-notch top-sirloin she grilled.

Interestingly, Trevor pointed out that two things happened at about the very moment he crossed over from Colorado into Kansas.

“It was like I hit a wall of humidity, but it was also like people were suddenly more open and nicer,” he said.

“That humidity has been more relentless this summer than it usually is,” I said. “And that’s interesting about the people.”

“Yeah, people out West are more put-offish and less open,” Trevor said. “I like how the people are in Kansas and Missouri.”

During his stay of about 15 hours or so, Trevor enjoyed a nice shower, did some laundry and slept like a rock in a real bed. He had been on the road since early June.

“I’m used to hearing random loud sounds from inside my tent, like trucks or sirens,” he said, “and city park lights will sometimes just go on in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. It was nice being in some quiet darkness for a change.”

Saturday morning, we hugged and said our goodbyes at the edge of the open garage door while a nice rain fell. The temperature was way lower than the day before and Trevor didn’t care that he was going to be a bit wet for while as he headed for Ellington on his $1,100 piece of riding gear.

“This is going to be nice,” he said.

As it had been for all of us for a while.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. His columns are posted online at www.houstonherald.com. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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