It was raining when I left my house for the Bakehouse and our usual Saturday ride, but there was a barely discernible bright spot in the Western sky. I had gotten a text from Colin Allen earlier, so I knew that at least he would be there. The wind was strong out of the South ushering in some warmth would accompany us on the wet trek. Today’s course was “rider’s choice” and would be chosen at the Bakehouse. I was hoping that it would be favorable and swing near my neighborhood on the way home. I wasn’t feeling great. My back was a little sore from doing some activity that I wasn’t used to the previous day. I was also recovering from a bout of motion sickness after being chauffeured in a friends car with new brakes at high speeds through town. More importantly, I was feeling the effects of the tragic news from Connecticut, my home state.
We all grieve in our own way and look to something to ground us. For some it’s family, others it’s faith, some it’s the bottle. I took to the bike. I won’t philosophize about the bike always being there, or never letting me down. That seems trite. But it is the people that I ride with that I want to be around and connect with. They understand me and my strengths and weaknesses, fears and triumphs, a non-judgemental lens on my world. It’s the measure of time on the bike, counted in the steady metronome of pedal strokes that set a comfortable and soothing rhythm to the melancholy of the moment- allowing a brief respite to the last couple of day’s events.
I arrived at the Bakehouse early and was soon met by Chris Kroll (Upland), Kevin Hays (unattached), Emily Palmer, Kevin Newkirk, Mark Powell and Colin Allen (Bakehouse). We shared some coffee and weathered the usual curious looks from the customers. It made me feel more important than it should have. One family was from Germany and another couple seemed to be Parisians. I couldn’t understand what they were saying but I imagined that they were impressed by our small, dedicated group.
We headed out South and West after picking up an article that Mark forgot at home. The roads were wet but the rain held off and we cut a steady course over Rockport, Louden to Elletsville and back through Bottom. It was a perfect ride for the conditions. It seemed like more descending than climbing and more tailwind than headwind, although that’s not probable. Some light conversation. Catching up mostly. A little laughter, letting our guard down a bit during these neutral Saturday rides. Colin wasn’t feeling great and I was eager to get home by two-ish to see the basketball game. So we turned North at Bottom while the others headed up toward the Forest.
I did make it home in time to catch the first few minutes of IU vs. Butler. After watching the tough loss, I continued to have a general feeling of malaise. I was warmish out so I took to the bike again, this time, the motorcycle. I had no particular destination in mind. I just needed to get on it, to continue the process of clearing my head. Of making sense of the world. I headed over to the bike shop. It was late and there were a few customers inside. I opened the door to the familiar smell of rubber and grease where I was warmly greeted by friends who knew how to help.