cycling · fitness

Together and separate cycling

This weekend, my friend Norah and I are in Central Massachusetts, cycling, swimming, getting great coffee, and going to a dance concert at Jacob’s Pillow in western MA. We saw the Martha Graham Dance Company last night– stay tuned for a blog post next week about them.

This is our second year doing this weekend outing, and we’ve got it down pat. We stay in a modest motel across the road from the Norowottuck Rail Trail, which runs from east of Amherst to west of Northampton. It’s 11 miles long, and also lets you connect to other rail trails north of Northampton.

Friday afternoon we arrived and I was dying to get out on my bike. It was sunny and warm, and the path was green and leafy. See?

Leafy, green and shady bike path.  Ahhh...
Leafy, green and shady bike path. Ahhh…

Norah had both work and napping to do, so I headed out on my own. Of course, I wasn’t alone– there were other folks on bikes, skates, feet, and one person on a skateboard. Still, it was calming and refreshing to get out there on my own, just pedaling and looking around at the scenery.

I rode to downtown Northampton, reengaged with technology for a bit (texting and emailing on my phone), and then headed back. The ride back gave me a second dose of quiet enjoyment. And there were great visuals, too. See?

Rail trail bridge over the Connecticut river. Ooooh....
Rail trail bridge over the Connecticut river. Ooooh….

On Saturday, Norah and I set out together to ride to Amherst, find coffee, walk around, have lunch, and then make our way back to the motel. We were riding together, pointing out interesting-to-us sights to each other. Soon, though, Norah said to me, “I’d like to have a quiet ride. Why don’t you go on ahead?”

I did, riding at my own pace and in my own space. My road bike weighs about half of Norah’s sturdy commuter (complete with rack and panniers), and I enjoyed stretching my legs and covering more of the path. Soon, the scenery changed from farmland to ponds, with lots of birds and flora. See?

Pond with cat tails and lily pads. Egret was standing out of shot.
Pond with cat tails and lily pads. Egret was standing out of shot.

I was close to the end of the trail when I got a phone call from Norah, asking where I was. She was sitting on one of the rustic benches on the side of the trail, taking a break. I told her I would return as soon as I got to the end of the trail (in this sense, I’m a completist like Cate).

Soon I was back with Norah. We were both very happy and ready to search for coffee. So we did, along with meandering, eating lunch, and chit chatting with folks at a farmer’s market.

Then we got back on our bikes and rode to the motel together. We chatted a little, talked about plans for the rest of the day, pointed out interesting rights to each other. It was calm and relaxing and fun. We both got what we wanted from our outing– calm quiet cycling, calm together cycling. Yay!

Readers, do you ever split up when riding with friends? Do you like it? Do you prefer to ride together mostly, or separately, or a combo? I’m curious.

3 thoughts on “Together and separate cycling

  1. Interesting. I mostly ride on roads not paths and I stick close to the people in riding with. I like drafting and being drafted and riding close together. That’s my preference. I sometimes zoom ahead and get left behind while others zoom and regroup at stop signs and tops of hills. But that’s it for riding separately. It helps that I’m happy riding at a wide range of speeds!

  2. If I’m specifically meeting a friend to ride or run together, then we generally stay together, though the faster one might get ahead going up hills. My partner and I have taken to starting runs together and finishing together, but in the middle we split up, so I can push myself a little more. I do also love my solitude on some runs (not generally on bike rides), in particular trail runs, so I’m more likely to do a together & separate run on a trail. It’s a very delicate balance and I’m impressed by your open and comfortable communication with Norah. I think that’s really the key (to all relationship aspects, of course).

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