Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Auntie Social

Since we are now less than one month from my Big Adventure, I am often forced to tell people why I can't do this or that upcoming event. For example, there's a popular century up in Clarksville, TN, the weekend of Labor Day, and somebody asked last night at the club ride if I would be riding it.

"No," I told them, no, "I'm going to be touring from Seattle to San Francisco then."

"That sounds like fun," my friend said. "Who are you going with?"

"Nobody," I said. "Just me."

"Oh," he replied, becoming confused. "You mean, no one from the bike club?"

"No," I said, shaking my head. "No one else at all. I'm riding self-contained, and not with any organized tour group. I'll be on my own, carrying my own gear, and sleeping in a tent most nights."

"All by yourself?" he said, bewildered now. "Won't you be lonely?"

"Maybe," I said, shrugging. "But I'm pretty good by myself."

And then my friend nodded and wished me a good trip. But the look in his eye said that he didn't really get it ... or, more likely, that he got it wrong.

You see, people that don't know me think that I am outgoing. I like to tell jokes, I'm a musician, I have a blog, and I even go to parties. But the fact is that I am -- like most people -- a private person. An introvert, really. Most of what I share with all but my closest friends is about as deep as what you find on this site ... light humor, some political and social observations, and tales from the road.

If you read between the lines on these blog posts, you'll notice there's a lot of rides here that I do by myself. Usually, it's because my schedule is flexible or nobody else is available to ride that day, and sometimes it's just that when I am riding by myself I have the time to slow down and get pictures.

But the truth of it is that -- sometimes -- I like to be alone.

Not always, of course. If RandoGirl or the other Usual Suspects whose names you find throughout this blog are free and want to ride, I will almost always go with them. I like being with friends as much as anybody does, and riding with friends is just about my favorite activity in the world.

Ultimately, however, I am always comfortable when it's just me. Not to be narcissistic or anything, but I like myself. I'm a good guy. When I have conversations with myself they are usually engaging and thought-provoking, and in the rare occasion that I argue with myself it is usually with respect and rarely gets personal. I like to listen the same music as myself, and myself has only dragged me to two movies that I did not find at least somewhat pleasant.

As far as I am concerned, myself is pretty good company.

Those who have ridden longer brevets (300K or more) with me may have noticed that, at some point during the ride, I will either fall off the group or pull ahead. Sometimes this is just for a mile or two, and sometimes it's for 50. They say that one key to randonneuring is that you "ride your own ride," and often that's the case when I'm feeling either less-powerful or more-spirited than my riding companions. But sometimes it's something deeper. It's not that I don't want to be with my friends ... it's just that I need to be by myself for a bit.

Maybe three weeks will be too much of "a bit." I'm pretty sure that I will meet and talk to people along the way, and it's quite possible that I will find myself travelling in the same direction with other bike tourists and sharing a campsite and some meals for a day or four. That would be great, too, since I like making new friends.

But don't worry about me if I don't have someone else with me for this trip. I'll always be with my oldest friend, by myself.


  1. +1

    I've often told others "in the end, the only cycling group one can count on, is the group made of 'me, myself and I."

    Although I haven't looked at "CrazyGuyOnABike" in several years, the BEST journals were always by cyclists who were alone or with only one or two others. What made those journals better than the rest was the stories were invariably about the people met while touring, met while 'searching' for food, drink and places to sleep.

    The journals of those touring in packaged groups invariably fell short as those cyclists didn't have to search and discover for themselves. All they were doing was riding a bike, almost as if wrapped in a cocoon of support.

    Of course, it also helps if the author can tell a story, and successfully put it to paper.

  2. And to expand on what skiffrun noted. When one is traveling solo, I have found that there is a much greater chance to meet and interact with other folks. I likely wouldn't have heard the term 'barley pop' if I had not been touring and camping solo late season on the Natchez Parkway.

    1. Okay, Andy. One of these days you're going to have to tell me what a "Barley Pop" is. Sounds like it involves beer and a freezer.