Monday, July 8, 2013

Week #27: I Just Want to Ride Bikes with You

One morning in late May, I was indulging in my daily distraction of perusing the new arrivals on and clicking "Love it!" on way more things than I will ever be able to afford. When I came to the men's t-shirt that said, "I just want to ride bikes with you", it stirred up definite feelings of...something. As I am apt to do with interesting items of clothing, I shared it on Facebook to see what, if any, discussion it would provoke.

It didn't get a lot except for Kristen's classic reference to our ill-fated Death March recon from January and my snide attempt to put my feelings of...something into words.

Only later that afternoon did I start to regret that comment, when I had finally worked up the nerve to make the leap and send a friend request to a preferred Instagram follower who shared my interest in bikes, cats, tattoos, and asparagus (asparagati?). A few days earlier he had shown the initiative to write a good luck comment on my pre-race picture of my bike at the Gravel Metric, and since I'd already had a GM-related influx of new Facebook and Insta-friends based on liked pictures and some brief meetings at the event, I figured I might as well gain one more who had been following #gmrv from his residence in Pennsylvania. Then there was the realization that my snide comment might be the first post he saw from me and leave the impression that I was bitter or something.

Trying to explain the "something" that I was feeling was hard. My comment might be interpreted as my complaining about being single when I hadn't been single nearly long enough to start complaining. For the most part, I considered being a single a good thing, since you know, it was my choice and everything. However, it was more about finally figuring out the things that I'd been missing for years, taking the steps necessary so that I could pursue those things, and being ready to start pursuing them, calendars be damned. 

Meeting a guy who would willingly (and with enthusiasm) ride bikes with me was certainly not the whole of this list of things I wished to pursue, but it did stick out as something that I'd been missing all along and had only recently begun to realize it. As a side effect of starting to ride with other people more, I got to experience how much fun it can be to ride with male friends who can enjoy my company and still respect what I do on a bike even though I'm not as fast as them. I may be betraying my gender, but I have no problem with being told I'm fast "for a girl", and I have no desire to trade blows with the boys on a group ride just to prove myself. That attitude may never make me elite, but I respond better to a carrot than a stick. I'm much more apt to ride my best in a situation of, "You're faster than me. I'm okay with you being faster than me and I'm not going to try and race you, but we're having fun, so I'll ride hard to keep up the best that I can." I had also noticed this kind of attitude among most of my happier couple friends on which many of my aspirations were based.

So what's the point of the story? Well, my Insta-friend must not have taken too much offense to my comment, because many long Facebook messages, a viewing of The Blues Brothers, some baked liver pate', and the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup win later, he came for a weekend visit of bike riding and Bloomington tourism. I showed him around BCSP on Friday and some of the local gravel Saturday, and did my best to challenge the Illinois native's concept of what Midwestern riding looks like. I may have tried to drop him on some mud and downhills, too. All in all, it was an exceptionally good time, and I'm happy to say that right now my aspiration and my reality are looking pretty darn similar!


Eric Gadlage said...

I would not be scared to ride with you anytime. SS, gravel or what ever.

Just don't expect me to be dropping you.

David Adams said...

I've only ever mostly ridden by myself but since I built my girlfriend a mtb we have been riding together, my rides have got slower & shorter but they are starting to get a bit longer now and I wouldn't have it any other way..