Jose almost never made it to the start of a team ride. It was always a bit of a guessing game as to whether or not he would turn up somewhere along the way. Jose knew the usual route passed close by his house, so why make the extra trip to the coffee shop when he could have coffee at home with his family. As we'd head south along the lake, I kept an eye open for him. Because although a team ride was good, a team ride with Jose was better.
More often than not, there he would be, pedaling towards us in the opposite lane. He'd make a slow U-turn and catch on. I'd drift back and check in with Jose. I don't exactly remember what we'd talk about. Definitely bicycles. Probably family. He had an ironic and self-deprecating sense of humor that matched my own. After a few minutes, I'd move back up the line. No need to monopolize his time. There would be plenty of opportunities to finish the conversation later. If not on this ride, then on the next one.
That all changed forever last Friday. While Jose was out on a training ride, a van made a sudden left turn, killing him. So Jose won't be joining us on our team rides anymore. But I won't stop looking up the road for my friend. Because even if it's just in my imagination, a ride with Jose is still better than one without.