SACO – Maybe it’s clear from the picture, but just in case there’s any doubt, this group of hardy fools is about as happy as a group of friends might be. Yes, the temperature was hovering around freezing when we left the parking lot in Saco, but after a winter filled with ice and snow, there was nothing but smiles and laughter as we settled into the ride and started to discuss a destination.
Our Sunday morning rides have become such a normal part of our lives and our friendship. From April until sometime late in September we meet two or three times a week and ride along the roads of southern Maine. We know the schedule and the routine as well as we know our own families. People occasionally ask me about the group and the rides, and they often want to know about our routes.
“Do you go the same place every week?” they’ll ask. “Do you know before you meet at Shaws?”
As simple as it sounds, we don’t, but with a smile and nod to one another, we talk about where we’d like to go on a particular day or what we’d like to see, and as our ages have somehow crept closer and closer to a sixth or seventh decade of life, we also talk about a place to stop.
Somehow, almost magically, our rides have evolved into a rolling conversation that stops after 15-20 miles for a coffee and maybe even something to eat. Today was one of those days.
After almost 20 miles of riding we happened to come across the Donut Hole in Buxton and wouldn’t you know it, we stopped. The sun was shining and if you stood with your back toward the building, you were out of the wind and the strength of the early April sun was easily felt through the layers of nylon and lycra. Like turtles on the beach, we stretched our necks as we let the warmth of the day wash over us.
Inevitably, our conversations turned toward our bikes and our equipment. We laughed and joked about the way we tried to justify the cost of shoes, shirts, shorts and tires. We talked about the bikes we’d really like to buy.
“I think it’s pretty easy to justify,” Diane said and took a short sip of her steaming coffee. “We’re investing in ourselves and our health.”
I smiled to myself and didn’t want to say anything, but she was right. By the time we arrived back home, we’d ridden almost 36 miles. We were tired, a little sore, but happy, and happy in a way that only comes from realizing how lucky we are.
So to my friends, I say: “let’s ride!” By the way, it’s supposed to be almost 70 on Tuesday and we’ll be out there again.