I have been on the road for 6 days now and a few things are starting to become clear to me. I know that I am of the solitary “ilk”, but I need people. As I have ridden mile after mile solo, up and now across Texas, I am feeling very lonely. I need people. They don’t have to say much; camaraderie will do. For the past 11 or 12 years I can look back and see that I have ridden over 2,000 miles a year. Say ten years at 2,000 or 20,000 miles. How many of these did I ride by myself? The answer is very, very few. I’ve been retired for 3 months now and I have yet to take off for a solo ride through the country. No, for me it is give me an MS150 training ride, a charity ride or just with friends. I miss the Mamma Jamma training rides, both helping new cyclists and being able to ride with others of my “ilk”. I may be a loner by “type” but not in action.
While I am trudging along at 10 mph, 5 or 6 into the wind, my “lonely” thoughts tend toward what else could I be doing with this time. Ever since I learned the term “opportunity cost” in college while studying business management, I have enjoyed the “what if” thought processes. I have always wanted to do this, and the planning and wanting were great, but the riding not so much. Cue up James Taylor “Call me if you need a friend” for me, will ya? Actually, I have been calling one of my children or my sister nightly. I call my wife daily and we all stay in touch through Instagram, Snap Chat, group texts and Facebook, but none of it replaces sharing the ride, good, bad or agony.
It would be better if the scenery was outstanding, but what I end up doing is comparing what I see to what I already know. There are a lot of places up and down the IH 35 and over the IH 20 corridors that are very similar. What it isn’t is different from areas I see near my home. I guess 23 years in Volente and now the Georgetown area completely spoiled me. Not that the lack of scenic vistas and historic battlefields I crave matters , I probably wouldn’t stop very long at these sites anyway. I had a moment, in West, TX, the city, not the area, to check out the town, but I knew that the wind was picking up later in the day from the 12’s to the 24’s, and I took as quick picture of the railroad depot and moved on. Sort of. The wind had transitioned during my stop!
As I write this, with no internet access and my phone being charged back from the dead (or I’d be on a hot spot, I’ll upload later) I am reminded of the YouTube videos I have watched extolling the wonders of bike camping and bikepacking. I can’t think of one of them that said let’s ride to Mongolia and leave from our house. I think I may have missed that mark. The whole ride is important and I am afraid that my plan is souring me on the whole idea. Maybe I should reconsider my plan. I had set the plan to first visit my daughter, son-in-law and 4 grandkids. I did this, albeit in 4 days not 3 due to wind and threatening weather forcing route adjustments. My original plan had me next heading to Frisco, TX, and spending a day at the Museum of the American Railroad. I cut that out to take a more direct route to the end game. I missed the point. If I don’t enjoy the ride, there is no point. I have already fallen behind my plan, and I am thinking about blowing another to recapture the spirit.