I spent a lot of time on my bike over the weekend. The weather here was perfectly (if not disturbingly) beautiful, and it just screamed at me to get out. My folks were in town and neither of them rides, so I had to eek out any time that I could to get on the saddle.
Because of that I spent all of my ride time alone. Which is sort of how I prefer to ride. It’s how it all started. When I first got serious about riding everywhere (7ish years ago), I had no one to ride with. None of my friends road bikes at all and growing up a fat kid, I have a healthy and natural distrust for anyone who calls themselves an “athlete”, which was most of the people I knew (roadie types) who did ride bikes. Thus it became a solitary experience for me. As I road over the weeks and months that followed I developed a riding rhythm that (in may ways) I still use today. Sure as time passed the rhythm got faster and faster, but never having anyone riding around me I never pushed myself to ride faster than others or really keep up with anyone. I pushed myself to ride better, but I only ever used myself as a point of reference. Because of that, I have a tendency to ignore other riders (which pisses my wife off to all hell, because when she tries to follow me, I’m always turning a the last minute or stopping out of nowhere, or running into trees).
When I ride on public bikeways, people pass me, I pass people, it all depends on their speed and how it fits into my rhythm. Now years later, as those habits have really ingrained themselves into my tubby little muscles, I realize I’ve made it really hard to ride with others.
The more I’ve ridden the more “serious rider type” friends I’ve made, so I have some folks that I ride with now and then who fit into this pile; also as cycling has become more “fashionable” people who haven’t ridden a bike in years are pedaling around on their $500 starter bikes, and some of them are old friends, so I have people that I sometimes ride with who fit into this pile.
People who have been riding their whole lives, or people who are “fit” ride at a much faster rhythm than me, and the “starter bike” crowd runs much slower than I do. When I ride with either group, they’re either drastically out pacing me (which I have a tendency to just let that happen), or they’re way behind me (and I tend to ride ahead, because the experience that I’m used to is a blissfully solitary one).
So ultimately, whether I start out alone or not, I almost always end up riding that way. Riding down the road and talking to someone while I do, is like a whole new world. It’s like a strange combination of being social and riding bikes (something I hate and something I love). Strangely though, with the addition of the bicycle the being social thing (which if you haven’t guessed is the part I hate) has gotten much less annoying and painful. I mean, of course, it still is annoying and painful, just less so. Occasionally it’s even (dare I say it?) fun. And on those occasions that it’s “fun” it makes me think that maybe I should work a bit more at my ability to ride with others.
Will I do this? Probably not. But a man can dream can’t he?
Now here’s a picture of my Pal AWood, he rides really fast.
Have a great week, and make sure you ride!