As written about in “Cranksgiving”, the holiday season is about coming together with family and friends. However, instead of reflecting on the ups and downs of life, I would like to focus on the community that is cycling. Whether you are just learning to ride or have ridden the Tour de France, you have a place within the cycling world. There seems to be a universal rule within this community to be friendly and embrace everyone with a desire to ride. I have yet to encounter an individual or group of cyclists that have let me down. This is unlike any other community I have been part of. There is something about riding a bike that builds a strong sense of togetherness. I want to write about two times in which I have experienced this incredible embrace.
My Journey from San Fran to LA
Please check out my complete write-up of this ride here!
At the end of our fourth day of riding my friend and I were physically, emotionally, and mentally drained. We were literally laying in the middle of the street. We had ridden about 90 miles and were about 12 miles away from the nearest campsite. It was 7:45 pm and the sun was beginning to set. As we began to bicker about how are lives were going to end a car pulled over next to us.
Out stepped a young lady, Adrienne. We were two dirty, male strangers on the side of the road with our bikes. She quickly assessed the situation by asking what we were doing in the road. After a short conversation about BIKES she offered up her mother’s home as a shelter for the evening. My friend and I agreed it was our only hope, so we went back with her.
After a hot meal, we began talking with our new friend. We learned that she had recently ridden bikes across the country with her husband. She started in Virginia and made her way back to California. To our surprise she knew exactly the pain we were experiencing. She explained that she had experienced the kindness of strangers on her journey. She said that she was given warm places to stay, hot meals, and showers. A few favors she was hoping to return. Somehow, someway, my friend and I were the recipients of those returned favors. That night we slept, ate well, cleaned our clothes, and made a new friend.
The commonality among us, our new friend, and the strangers that she encountered was cycling. Each of us have this unspoken understanding of what riding a bike is all about. This bond is strong enough to compel people to help strangers and even allow them into their home. Among the violence of today’s society, that’s pretty incredible. I don’t think anymore needs to be written. There’s only one entrance fee to join this incredible community……… a desire to ride.
Drifting Apart, Biking Close
In college, my friends and I were all within walking distance. We could hang out everyday. Our only responsibility was to attend class a few times a week. However, that abruptly changed after graduation. Some of us got jobs and others went to grad school. We all moved apart and are now scattered across a couple hundred miles. Needless to say, we don’t see each other that often.
Throughout college some of us rode bikes, mainly to get to class. It was nothing crazy, not an obsession, if you will. The friends who were not riding in college took note of us who were and eventually obtained a beater bike of their own. Fortunately, a majority of our group now loves to ride. Unfortunately, this “romance” developed after we scattered apart.
We quickly learned that coordinating weekends together was extremely difficult due to the responsibility of adult life. When we pull it off, we absolutely cherish it. 3 years ago our group of friends discovered the DROPS 2 HOPS bike race in Cooperstown, NY. We have made this event a priority among our crew. We are sure to clear our calendars for the last weekend in September to spend it camping, biking, and bonding.
Without our bond over bikes, this event would never have been discovered. All of us have “that understanding” of riding bikes and what it means to each of us. I truly believe that this unified understanding is a piece of the foundation that creates our friendship. We all hold the DROPS 2 HOPS weekend close to our hearts. We get to spend the weekend reminiscing and riding. For those two days, we’re neighbors again. What more could we want?!
The biking community is a large, open network. Among us you will find all walks of life including doctors, lawyers, plumbers, students, children, poor, rich, in shape, out of shape, and everyone one else with a desire to ride. The community is always open and eager for new people. So……… join us. Let’s ride!