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Sunday, October 26, 2014

To My Friends Who Do Not Ride Through The Winter

"Every meeting led to a parting, and so
it would, as long as life was mortal.  In every
meeting there is some of the sorrow of parting, 
but in every parting there is some of the joy
of meeting as well."
Cassandra Clare

And so, as I knew it would be, today was the last ride where I will see many of my friends, or at least some of my friends, until the weather warms again and spring stealthily ousts winter, banishing her cold breath, awakening the slumbering earth.  The  morning, though cloudy, was unseasonably warm for the end of October, and I was glad that people came.  Somewhat ironically, they are not the old people who used to ride and laugh at those who only rode the TMD centuries, but newer friends, becoming no less dear to me. Hearts are funny that way:  you can never fill them up with too much love, only with too much hatred.  I am glad they are here for I did not want to ride alone today.  And I love many of my friends, both those that ride, short or long distances, or those that no longer ride for whatever reason.  You lose touch, you grow apart, but always there is that connection forged by miles ridden together, thoughts, experiences, and feelings shared, and time.  Which does not mean, however, that what you had can be renewed, only appreciated for what they were. "For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday."  (Kahil Gibran)  For better or for worse, we all change and move on.

As always this time of year when there is a huge temperature difference, everyone is debating what to wear.  By the time I leave the house, my bedroom is strewn with different cycling apparel, the accumulation of years of riding.   And in the parking lot, the others have clothing throughout their car.  It is difficult to decide.  Does one want to be uncomfortable at the start of the ride but not carry so much later in the day, or be comfortable and weighted down as the day progresses?  And each of us makes different choices.  

I am just glad that there are still leaves on the trees and that it is still relatively warm.  Fall is so transient, and a good wind and rain can strip the world bare overnight. On the news last night, they said that it snowed last year at this time.  Snow just seems too cruel.  If I must say good-bye, I would prefer that it be a warmer good-bye, more lingering and poignant.  And it is a good ride.  Some trees are bare, but others still hint at the fleeting glory that was theirs, as when you look at a very old person and for a moment you can visualize them at their peak of perfection.  The world is burnished by the season that bleeds yellow, orange, red, and russet. The traffic is not so very bad. 

We carry sandwiches to the lunch stop at Story to shorten our wait, and we get to sit and enjoy the sun that has come out and the guitar player imitating Johnny Cash in the background.  Everyone laughs when Diesel Dog's pop explodes and foams all over him. Waiting to eat lunch until later in the ride has sweetened the taste of the food, and we share Paul's upcoming birthday with him.  Nobody notices when I momentarily blink back tears savoring the sharing of food and scenery and music and friendship and even some memories.  This was the place where the waitress sang to Bill when she brought his food, a place where I have lunched with Sharon who does not ride and who I see all too little.  I add another memory to my cache of memories associated with Story. 

In the bathroom, I find they have added a chalk board that covers one entire wall.  I joke with another unknown woman in there saying they must have know that I was going to write to call me if you want a good time, a shared moment of humor with a stranger. She tells me she arrived on horseback, and indeed there are what seems to be a legion of horses tied up outside the bathroom. The sign outside tells men to stand closer as they are shorter than they think and women to remain seated throughout the performance.  Someone has a sense of humor. And then we helmet up and head out to finish a ride that somehow seems all too short despite my growing tired.  During the stretch we lament fall leaching hard won summer strength from our legs, but riding lessens as we prepare for the coming cold and there just does not seem to be any good reason to hurry.  

Coming into the parking lot, it is over.  How did 103 miles go so very quickly? To those who rode, please know that I treasured this ride and I treasure the gift of your friendship though at times I do not feel worthy of it.  Thank you for the memory.  I will see those of you who do not ride throughout the year, or at least do not ride centuries throughout the year, God willing I will see you in the spring.  Take care.