Reunion

Somewhere in the smell of the early morning dew on grass, tar on lumber, the croak of nearby frogs there’s a sense that home is at hand, that the past is around the corner, that long-closed haunts may still be mopping up last night’s spilled beer and cigarette butts. But you know that can’t be the case. In your absence time has allowed a city to grow, prosper, improve and fail, one address at a time.

The old faces seem more familiar, more welcome than ever. The old roads and hills shorter, easier than you recall. For every comfort found in the familiar you feel suspicion for the new. It’s not what Thomas Wolfe was referring to when he wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, but the effect is the same. You’re a stranger among your people. You know their ways, their speech and yet you no longer know their souls. Or don’t you?

All it takes is a group ride to find family. Like meeting a cousin you’ve heard stories of since childhood, your collective past may criss-cross only once or twice—if at all—but there’s a familiarity that goes deeper than Lycra, a connection that runs straight to the heart. Culture is in the blood, and those who know the rhythms of the efforts will always be a refuge for the stranger, even if the stranger is a native.

8 comments

  1. Chris

    Thanks Padraig,

    While I read with alacrity your product reviews and, well just about everything that gets posted on RKP, it’s been a little while since I’ve read something so emblematic of your talents on these pages. Nice to hear your voice again.

  2. TimC

    Ironically, three days ago I purchased (well, contracted to purchase) a house in my hometown. Going back after seven years away. Things have changed, things have remained the same. I now know where to find refuge, and the extent of what has changed and what has remained. Boy I’m looking forward to the group rides.
    Thanks Padraig for reminding me of one of the strongest foundations.

  3. JesseI

    As an US expat lIving in the UK there are few thing I crave more than rolling up to my group ride back home. While the folks here are warm and welcoming, there’s something different in knowing the route by heart and the wheels you can follow blindly. But as I miss it, I know it will be a different adventure when I return.

  4. Jeremy

    Padraig, I’ve read your blog since its beginnings. Through your blog and other writings, I’ve had a feeling we share a similar cycling past. Your photo above cements that idea completely (I know exactly where that photo was taken). I hate that I am missing your visit to Victory this evening, but I hope you make it back to your home again, and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to show you how some more of your hometown has changed!

  5. rpb2

    Jessel, if you’re in London, we should meet up! I’m a US expat in London and as much as I love Saturday group rides in Richmond Park and the odd jaunt in the English countryside or weekend trip to the Alps, there’s nothing like lining up with the boys back home to ride the Alpine Loop/American Fork Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Emigration Canyon/Big Mountain, etc.

  6. John

    Nice thoughts to be sure, thank you for reminding us of how we can always reconnect to our past. I would go still a bit further. The old group ride can be found in places other than home. Recently on travel, I found a group ride that, before long, felt as familiar as riding with my own club on my own roads despite the fact I knew nobody nor the roads. One of the group invited me for another unadvertised ride the next day. It was like riding with old friends. I knew their rhythms and they mine. Though I was a stranger to the bike, the roads, and the riders, the connection was as strong as the one back home.

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