My friend Pata and I have refined the leisurely companionable bike ride to an art form. We fine-tune our route to fit our time constraints, training needs, folk weather forecasting skills, and combined levels of oomph to dial in a perfect ride for the both of us. These tend to take place on late spring, summer (and early fall) Fridays.
We do ride together at other times of year, but the leisurely Friday ride requires soft warm weather to feel completely at one with the bike, the environment and the agenda: have fun riding with friends.
Pata is a very experienced cyclist. She’s a certified League of American Bicyclists instructor, alum of the same racing clinic I did years ago, and has ridden cross country from Massachusetts to Washington State with her partner. Her blog about the trip is here. She’s also in her mid-fifties (like me), and both of us are experiencing (and griping copiously about) the changes in our bodies, our families and our priorities that make regular cycling both more difficult and really important.
Enter the Friday coffee ride– the solution to all problems.
A couple of summers ago, I was going through the breakup of my relationship and having a hard time functioning. All my friends pitched in to help get me out of the house and into nature, moving and being with them. For this I am touched and grateful.
Pata got me out on the bike– just up the bike path, she said. We’ll ride to Lexington, have coffee at Peet’s, and then assess what we want to do next. Okay, I said. I confess that I got a lot of therapy at those outdoor tables, large latte at my side.
This Friday, two years later, I have moved on emotionally and socially. But I don’t mind one bit to be rolling over the same route to the same coffee shop with my same cycling companion.
Just for the record, here’s us at my house at the beginning of the ride.
And here’s photographic evidence of the coffee/snack segment of the ride.
After caffeinating and snacking, we were ready to continue. There are loads of lovely cycling routes from here. We picked an easy one (bike path to Bedford and then back to Belmont), and set off.
During these leisurely rides, much work is done:
- planning future bike trips
- planning fantasy bike trips
- discussing personal/relationship/family problems of ourselves and others
- solving above-mentioned issues to our satisfaction
- pointing out attractive flora (this is generally my job)
- pointing out interesting bikes (Pata is in charge of this one)
- exclaiming about how fun this is
And yet it’s not tiring or taxing. This is the wonderful thing about the leisurely companionable bike ride.
We made our way back to Belmont, refreshed and ready (albeit reluctantly) to resume life. Here is one more pic of the happy duo:
In summary: the leisurely coffee ride is good for whatever ails me. So readers: what activity do you do for sheer fun and relaxation? Is it with friends? Is it just for you? I’d love to hear from you.