Here we are on a raining February weekend and I am contemplating something that is lacking from my bike riding. Purpose. Over the years I became accustomed to having reasons to bike.
- My bike commute was the anchor of my riding life. For an average of four times a week, I would pedal the 29-mile round trip along the Potomac River on the Mount Vernon Trail to work. I was acutely aware of how fortunate I was to see the sun rise over Dyke Marsh, the planes taking and landing over the the trail, the boats bobbing in their slips at the marina at Daingerfield Island, birds and other wildlife going about their day, the sunlight falling on the monuments across the river in DC, and the occasional wave of fellow bike commuters as they passed going the other way.
- Errandonneuring is a term and a friendly competition invented by Mary over at Chasing Mailboxes. I run errands all the time on my bike. Some of my favorites are
- The 12-mile round trip to the eye doctor in Old Town Alexandria
- The 2 1/2-mile round trip to the pharmacy, hardware store, and grocery store
- The improvised commutes involving taking one of our cars to mechanics in North Arlington. I’d drive to the garage and ride the six miles to and from the office.
- Picnics in the Park: A friend of mine used to invite me to hang out in Meridian Hill Park in DC. At about 16 miles from my house, it was the perfect place to go to and sit on a blanket and watch the improvised amateur circus of slack liners and hula hoopers and acroyoga-ists. My friend would always invite a mix of eclectic and eccentric people to keep conversation going. The rides home at sunset made the day complete.
- Rides to baseball games at Nationals Park. What could be better than to ride 16 miles to the ballpark, take in a game while sitting in the sun, then riding home either in the cool of the evening or late at night as the moon reflects off the river? Parking at the bike valet often means surprise encounters with friends.
- Friday Coffee Club was always a go-to for me when I was working. Getting up 15 minutes earlier wasn’t much of a sacrifice for socializing. Construction caused the location to move to the eastern side of downtown, a location that never did float my boat.
- Happy hours are always a good excuse for a bike ride. Third Thursday happy hour would involved a diversion of only a few miles from my commute.
With the exception of errandonneuring, I have lost many of the reasons to ride every day. I don’t work so I think riding to the office would be regarded as rather pathetic by my former employer. It’s not baseball season so riding to the ballpark would be fruitless. Being on blood thinners means I can’t drink so riding to a happy hours is sad. My friend who used to invite me to picnics moved out of Meridian Hill Park’s neighborhood.
Some of these losses are temporary, of course. And I suppose my desultory biking life will be at an end when warm air returns. For one thing, I haven’t done any bike overnights, out-and-back rides to a nearby destination such as Harpers Ferry. Or perhaps The Mule and I will travel further afield for an additional day or two. And weekday trips to museums will involve two wheels rather than Metro. There is hope.