I’m sure we’ve done this one before, but for the sake of symmetry and positivity, let’s do it again. For me, the moment that springs to mind most readily is Christmas morning 1980, the door at the end of the hallway opening and the first glance at a new, red BMX bike. This moment isn’t actually a riding moment, but in it was contained infinities, all the projected joy a boy of 9 years-old could fathom with no horizon, no other complicating factors, a golden moment of shimmering perfection.
From there, it’s easy to call out other moments, skidding that bike, fully sideways through a nest of pine straw at the end of the driveway, launching that bike off steep curb cuts, tracing long burnt umber stripes into the red clay roads at the edges of the neighborhood.
I didn’t really consider my performance on the bike when I was a kid. There was no sense of riding well or poorly. It was a unitary experience, boy and bike together fulfilling some destiny. I think it’s this unification that separates my kid riding from my adult riding, and it defines that thing I’ve been chasing as an adult, that I only ever snatch glances at anymore, though the chase is fully worth the effort.
On a road bike, your legs are isolated. That is an oversimplification of what’s really happening, but even after I’d been riding road bikes for some years, I had trouble escaping the feeling that whether or not I had good legs on a given day really determined the high point for the ride. And of course, form and fitness are fleeting. Much of being a roadie is chasing those things. The joy, I find, comes from the places your legs can help you get to, and so the high points, for me, on a road bike include the Paradise Loop in the Bay Area, some dirt climbs in Vermont, and various hill summits throughout New England.
The other factor is, of course, friends, the number of times, even with bad legs, I’ve shared a ride with someone I felt connected to. There might be too many to name.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what has been your best moment on the bike? Was it a people thing, a place thing, a performance thing? What got you there?