I had a call from a shop in Alabama, a thick accent I recognized immediately. I grew up there, and though I haven’t lived there in 25 years, the way certain vowels stretch and bend has this way of dilating time in my mind. Memories flood. Feelings arise.
I have spent the intervening quarter century in Boston, and so now I am, at least mathematically, mostly a New Englander, except that no one from here sees me as a native. I suppose I’m one of those stationary nomads, not quite the man without a country, but never from anywhere properly either.
Usually when I think of Alabama, I wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed there. Especially in the cycling context, I have a hard time seeing what I do now coming to fruition there, and yet guys call me from my home state. They ride bikes. They ride nice bikes. Cycling culture does exist there, even though, when I was growing up, I always felt like a freak (and potential victim) anytime I rode beyond the confines of my carefully planned sub-division.
Facebook suggests some of my high school cohort own and ride bikes, so maybe it’s a thing that became a thing.
This week’s Group Ride asks, do they ride bikes where you’re from? Was there a cycling culture in place when you were growing up? Or has one developed over time, the slow creep of acceptance blossoming into cycling clubs and bike routes? Is there a strong culture where you live now? And if not, do you dream of living some place where a body can pull on man-made fibers of garish color, tap shoe out to the garage and pedal away into the thrum of traffic without being treated like a stranger in a strange land.