If my little brother doesn’t join me for Rockbuster this April, I will still go to the event alone. I do alright solo, but that’s mostly because I’ve had so much practice. Although this seems like an appropriate time to bring up a problem I’ve had for years, a problem I continue to have.
People to ride with. I love that the cycling community brings people together. Group rides are easy enough to find, but in truth, these are mostly populated by men. I like men just fine, but I’m not going to hold back a bunch of strong guys wanting to move at 18 or 19 mph. My top average is 15 mph here in hilly western Massachusetts.
Then on the other side of the spectrum, I’m too intense for the causal, recreational rider. I have tried this. This is not my group. I attended a meetup.com group ride last summer. I was one of 2 women, and she dropped off after about 3 miles. The rest of the group moved at about 12 mph on straight, flat, smooth country roads. I wanted to be moving at 17 or 18 mph. The group’s goal was to pedal to someplace the served really bad, greasy, delicious food–gorge themselves, then pedal back to the meeting spot. We took several breaks. It took 2.5 hrs to travel 18 miles on perfectly flat roads. This ride made me late for other plans and I had to apologize to the group and then race away from them to try to not miss my date.
A few years ago I tried to assemble a women’s mountain bike group and had moderate success. It was a good group–but half of the group stopped riding due to pregnancy and child rearing. I haven’t been able to reassemble or re-create the group since. All the women was just as good or better than me–which in my opinion is the perfect type of group. A few to ride alongside, a few to push you harder.
Now I have 2 or 3 female friends I ride with, and that happens infrequently at best. I may get 2 or so rides in with each one over the course of a year, yes–a whole year. Most are Moms like me and scheduling is often like waiting for just the right planetary alignment. But it’s something, anyway. As a result, I am solo most of the time. I usually don’t mind this, but I’m growing a bit lonely on my rides. It’s hard to find women in sport after a certain age. Motherhood, careers, and investing in personal relationship are all really important for a balanced and happy life. I just wish there were more planetary alignments in my life. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoy quiet, solitary rides most of the time. It gives me time to reflect on problems or ideas I have, and I get a break from the demands of my regular life. But every once in a while, I could use the company. To talk, to climb, to race, to coast, to share the ride.