Today marks the thirteenth straight weekend that I’ve gone for a longish bike ride with one or more friends.
Till this summer, I’d gone years without riding with anyone, ever since getting out of the habit of the Tuesday-night gravel rides that the club here in town organizes (or used to, in the Before Times). Pressures at home made me stop, but now with teenagers instead of elementary school kids, it’s easier – if not painless – to get out the house on a weekend morning for a long ride – 30 up to 60 or so miles so far.
It’s been absolutely great to do these rides – physically, socially, emotionally. I have not amassed this many bike miles in many, many years, which can only pay off when or if I can race this winter. And I’ve turned a corner with my riding, where going for a ride, even a short one (like the 20-ish miler yesterday evening with Pete), feels wonderful – but where a 60-miler feels even better.
The pandemic has constricted almost everyone’s social life; mine is largely now messaging with a few friends, talk at work (which isn’t really a real social life), workouts with one other guy a few evenings a week, and the occasional evening beer with a couple people at most. Plus the bike rides, which have been 3-5 hours of conversation about politics, the pandemic, work, Carleton, etc. etc. It’s wonderful. I love the rhythms of these bike-ride conversations, which appeal both in being Guy Talk and in being chats with like-minded friends – and which are thus very emotionally satisfying without being soul-searches. I always end the rides feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally satisfied – and maybe spiritually too, since it’s hard not to like scenes like this:
But. Given the constant talk about physical distancing, about masking, about washing hands and such, it’s a bit weird to spend so long in relatively close proximity to several other humans. It feels wrong, even if we’re pretty far apart from each other. I have to keep reminding myself that this is normal and relatively healthy, that riding bikes was a perfectly ordinary thing to do this time last year, that not too long from now it’ll be normal again. I hope. In the meantime, we’ll ride a few arms’ lengths apart and bring masks so one of us can get beer at the brewery afterwards.