The pandemic has been disruptive. And while cycling shouldn't be placed too high on life's top priorities list, the past few months have had an impact on those of us who enjoy riding a bicycle with other people.
There have been no event rides of any kind: road centuries, gravel grinders; nothing at all. Heck, group rides of any size were initially discouraged for fear of wayward snot rockets or respiratory droplets — that might possibly contain the coronavirus — spreading to other cyclists.
That said, me and my regular road warriors, namely Jon and Scott, have been very careful and only had our first get together of the season at the beginning of August. I'd ridden separately with one or the other a few times this summer, but not as a gang of three. While clumping closely in a paceline was still off limits, it was nice to have my pedal partners back.
It was a great day for a ride. Despite only journeying 39 miles, we covered a ton of territory and tormented our wee legs with an astounding amount of elevation. Very little traffic was encountered as we cruised through a plethora of communities: Winthrop, Leeds, Wayne, North Wayne, Mount Vernon, Chesterville, Fayette, Kents Hill, and Readfield. I felt like I was running for political office, barnstorming throughout the countryside.
Highlights, other than catching up on my friends' news and dodging acorns on the road, included:
— The view from Morrison Heights Road in Wayne was spectacular; one sees the mountains of western Maine. On a previous visit, I could even make out Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which is 69 miles away as the crow flies.
— A delicious rest stop, 27 miles into the ride, at the Apple Shed Bakery in the village of Kents Hill. I was ready for a nap after filling up on a piece of breakfast pizza — loaded with egg, bacon, and ham — and a blueberry turnover.
— Lagging behind, I crested a hill to find both of my cycling companions stopped by the side of the road checking map apps on their cellphones. I said, "This doesn't look good." Scott's reply was "You mean we're lost." Just part of the day's adventure.
— What's the best way to cool off after a long ride? Our answer was taking a plunge into Wilson Pond in Winthrop. Refreshing is the best word to describe that experience.
On the way home, with swimming still on my mind, I got to thinking that Maine has both ponds and lakes — more than 6,000 to be exact — but is there any difference between the two? My research revealed the following: One classic distinction is that sunlight penetrates to the bottom of all areas of a pond in contrast to lakes, which have deep waters that receive no sunlight at all. Another is that ponds generally have small surface areas and lakes have large surfaces. There's your dose of trivia for the day.
Anyway, it was good spending time with my two pals and, hopefully, more rides together are on the horizon.
By the way ...
I'm still piling up the miles, having only missed four days of riding in June and three days in July. My bikes' odometers are now showing a total of more than 4,000 miles for the season. Be safe out there!