Joining a bike gang

The benefits of riding a bike are many. Improving one's health. A cheaper form of transportation, with the byproduct of doing your bit for the environment. Being in closer contact with our surroundings. Less congestion on the roads.

Cycling is also a great connector for meeting other people. For those of us on the shy side of life's spectrum, bikes act as a bridge when words don't come easily. The turning of the wheels actually draws us closer to strangers — somehow keeping us introverts from applying the brakes.

The bike gang, from left, Linda, Richard, Mary and Walter.

I joined a bike gang the other day, and thus had the opportunity to meet fellow cyclists and make new friends. They are part of the Easy Riders Biking Club at the People Plus community center in Brunswick, Maine.

Despite showing up on one of my expensive bikes and kitted out from head-to-toe in proper cycling attire — way overdressed for this kind of party and slightly embarrassed — these wonderful people greeted me with open arms. I truly felt welcomed right from the start.

As the group's name might suggest, the ride that day to Simpson's Point was easy; we covered nine miles and our average speed was a whopping 8.3 miles per hour. But you know what? I loved every minute of the journey.

Most of my rides tend to be treated as exercise; get the heart rate up and sweat from every pore. It serves a purpose, which I cheerfully accomplish several times per week. But the pace put forth by the Easy Riders really got to the essence of what pedaling a bicycle truly means. By slowing down, it was impossible to escape the world around you. The smell of the sea, the morning messaging of the birds, traveling through the long shadows of the endless forests, and, more importantly, the chance to engage in conversation.

Richard, the gang leader, along with making sure everyone was safe, radiated a pleasant personality that made chatting with him a great pleasure. And then there was Walter, a native of Texas and former nurse. He remarked how they say you never forget how to ride a bike. Well, he had for a number of years been off one, but he was making up for lost time and doing a grand job. He was a real treat to ride with in the People Plus group. Also riding with us were two lovely ladies, Mary and Linda.

Pure and simple, it was a fun experience and I'm glad I went. So, thanks for letting me tag along, and I'm already looking forward to joining the group's next weekly outing. However, I believe I will be a little less flashy in my appearance. After all, it's just an easy-going bike ride.

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