The rides I enjoy most are outings with good friends. We’ve ridden together so much that we anticipate each other’s moves and thoughts. There is no need to call out obstacles. When one of us moves a bit to one side, the other automatically follows, knowing that there is a reason why the leading rider moved. When we cross a busy street, we all start at the same time when a sufficient gap appears. When it’s safer to take the lane, we move over in unison. This silent understanding is very satisfying, and creates a bond between us that gets stronger with every ride.
Not having to worry about interactions with other riders frees us up to marvel at the scenery or engage in lively discussion. During this time, the act of riding a bike becomes unconscious as our other senses are able to fully engage.
Somebody yelling “Hole!” or “Thanks for the pull!” would disrupt the discussion and the flow of our ride. For the former, it’s easier to give it a wide berth, while the latter is understood without words. Once in a while, one of us will call out something unexpected, but it is unhurried and calm.
Our skills, our riding styles, and even our bikes are similar, so we can ride in close quarters even on challenging terrain. I once looked back after a super-fast corner on a downhill to see my friends in a perfect echelon formation, so each could see the road ahead. I wish I had a photo of that sight.
I look forward to these rides, because they are more than just exercise, even more than exploration and adventure. They cement friendships that are most precious to me.