2018 BTUSFMS #2 – Learning to Move to Another’s Rhythms


August 18, 2018

Elk were grazing again in the meadow as we rode out of the campground at 7:20 this morning. The air was cool, and the ground fog made the elk seem ethereal, otherworldly.

Once on the highway, the simple rhythm of pedal strokes and gear shifts began to unfold the miles. There were four of us riding together for the first half of the day, and three the last half.

I do almost all of my riding alone, so riding in a group, and actually staying in the group, is a learning and adapting experience. It requires compromise, adaptation, and harmony. All good lessons for me, and especially timely in this period when these qualities seem in such short supply in our public discourse.

A bike ride is never just a bike ride, just as any action we take is never just that one thing. We are inextricably linked to each other, and so everything we do affects the field, the circle, we all share. This is both our challenge and our saving grace.

Riding in my small group today, I had to adapt to another’s rhythms, and move in a consensus cadence that ebbed and flowed as we climbed and descended. It takes practice, and as the rider who has joined the group ten days into their longer ride to San Diego (I’m just going as far as Sausalito at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge), I am, in effect, merging into the moving traffic of the group’s dynamic. But in my experience, learning to ride together is one of the ways that rapport is gradually built.

Today we ended our ride at a small Presbyterian church in Bayside, just outside Arcata, California. We’ll be staying here for two days. I’m sleeping on the floor of the sanctuary, ten feet from the pulpit. Sitting here in the quiet, it seems as fitting a place as any to acknowledge a growing harmony.


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