Friday Group Ride #465

Friday Group Ride #465

What is the feeling? Two lights blazing onto the packed sand, trees zipping past, close enough to touch, every bump throwing shadows off into the scrub, and two riders behind me, surging into their own cones of light. I didn’t expect to be going this fast, but there is something happening, something alchemical.

This is just one of the feelings I’m after when I roll out. Sometimes I don’t even know which one I’m looking for. I’m just hoping to come across one of them, out their somewhere, at the nexus of chance and effort.

I am easing off the pedals, letting my friends catch up. This is less charitable than it sounds. I’m burning too many matches too soon. I’m excited. The night is just cool enough. There is no one else out on these trails. I’m a kid.

It’s a matrix of sorts, not just one thing. I’m living in the thrilling moment of speeding into a narrow channel of perfect summer. I’m also with friends. There is a multiplier. I’m feeling the heady power of fitness combined with the intoxication of escape, from responsibility, from civilization, from myself. The fun is type 1, type 2…is there a type 3?

To get home, we climb the long hill to the water tower. It is sobering. It feels good to strain against the pedals, to look at each other and gauge what’s happened, what mark did it leave, how much does any of us still have in the tank?

This week’s Group Ride asks, what feeling are you looking for most when you leave on a ride? Is it simple? Or complicated? How often does it vary? How often do you even know?

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5 comments

  1. TomInAlbany

    As you say, it varies or it’s a general search for something. Most often, though, it’s the feeling of work. I’m a desk jockey and I love the feeling of using and fatiguing my muscles.

    The thrill of a fast descent or a sweet section of singletrack never disappoints, though!

  2. Michael

    After 45 years of riding “seriously”, I guess I don’t put any particular importance on what I will get from a single ride. I usually ride alone and enjoy the time to let my mind free-associate, but also love riding and chatting with a friend. I am most interested in the overall feeling of knowing that, wherever I am, I can get out of town on my bike quickly and will have some degree of freedom there. It was something I did not like so much living in Dublin – it took half an hour to get out of town, so the riding was not quite giving me the sense of freedom I sought. So, I guess what I seek is the inner knowledge that can sit with me all day every day that I am not trapped in town. Still, there is a feeling of elation, of that “flow” stuff that Padraig likes to yatter on about, that creeps up on me occasionally out of the blue. I don’t ride for that, as it acts like a mirage if you chase it, but it sure is nice when it happens.

  3. Aar

    Currently I’m very much like Michael – not “putting particular importance on what I will get from a single ride”. To a degree, I just want to finish my rides without any pain. I’ve had more than a few of those this year but for the past eight seasons I couldn’t say that after any ride.

    As we head into the winter season, I intend to start building fitness to get to the point that I’m one with the bike again – and pain free at the same time.

  4. Stephen Barner

    Today, we rode for sweet corn. Descended the mountain on a tandem and took the long way to my favorite farm stand at the top of the hill on the other side of the river, but–no corn. Back down to the river and another 8 miles to a stand that did, then the long climb back up towards home, with a detour for creemees, due to the unusually warm and muggy weather. 40 miles (half on dirt), $3 for corn, $6 for creemees, 2800′ of climbing, 46 mph top speed on a windy descent, all with a pretty, if chatty stoker, who corrected me whenever I was putting the hammer down. To top it off, the corn was quite yummy, and I had plenty of time left over for a swim and to spread some house paint

    That’s the kind of thing I ride for.

  5. Parker

    Before leaving on a solo road ride, the kind most typical for me, I’m more aware of a slightly complicated and fraught feeling than of some feeling I’ll look for while riding. It’s a small tenseness that strength/stamina will get tested amidst interesting scenery and a few cars and pick-ups. Except for more or less pain, the usual experience while actually riding is a relatively single-minded focus on staying upright while speeding along under my own power, not that I’m hard core. The degree of focus then is substantially greater than otherwise and that, if anything on the ride, is usually what I’ll find if I look. Occasionally, I’ll anticipate feeling nicely tired and satisfied after the ride’s over. Which is what my brother’s first wife emphasized both about cycling and about wilderness canoeing: “He beats his head against the wall because it feels so good when he stops.”

    Feelings are different on a group ride or while touring, more complex and interesting in the ways Robot suggests.

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