From time to time, I've written about how bicycles bring people together, often forging bonds that can last a lifetime. I recently experienced what I would call a "friendship ride" that was nearly pedal perfect.
It was on a Saturday morning. After experiencing several hot and humid days for much of August here in Maine, the crisp air coating my skin in those early hours brought chills, but there was no way I was going to complain. The coolness of the breeze from the north made me think it was coming straight from Canada. It was fresh — and refreshing.
I was riding with Jon and Scott, my most frequent companions on the bike. Jon and I almost cycle as one, fully aware of each other's movements made possible by churning out nearly 22,000 miles together over the years. Welcoming Scott into our fold has been a real pleasure; no disruptions whatsoever by adding a third member to our paceline.
Our tempo that day was free and easy. Talking topics filled up the miles; everything from the well-being of our children to politics. But there were also spells of quietness, allowing each of us to get lost in our own surroundings. What my two friends were thinking I can only guess; for me, it was a time to reflect on how much joy I truly experience when riding my bike. The fact that this still happens — the feeling of freedom just like during my boyhood days while cruising on gravel roads along cornfields in rural Michigan — is priceless to me. It's what keeps me riding.
So what was so special about this particular ride? It was the combination of everything: it was the camaraderie with Jon and Scott and the accompanying banter between us; it was seeing other people in places like Wayne and Fayette out walking, being friendly and enjoying the fall-like weather; it was the sighting of different kinds of wildlife, even stopping at one point to marvel at what we thought were bald eagles; it was even the way the morning light was hitting the trees.
And one other neat thing; it was the lack of traffic. I know I have voiced my concerns that our great state has a long ways to go to become more bike-friendly. But when you discover roads that carry very few vehicles — as was the case on this 36-mile journey — it just makes my bike spokes sing.
It was a ride I won't soon forget. In fact, in my cycling logbook I wrote in the notes section, "Great ride!" I'm not sure if my description does it justice, but it remains trapped in my mind as a very special day. And more than anything else, it was just plain fun.