August 14th, 2011

Bike 04

Learning to be Social

I had the best ride yesterday.

As I have noted elsewhere, apart from one trip to Block Island every year or so, I almost always ride alone. There's lots of reasons for this, not the least of which is that I am not very social. But it's also rare that I see another cyclist who rides at about the same pace as I do. I tend to ride faster than most of the casual cyclists I see, but not nearly as fast as the Lance Armstrong wannabes.

I drove up to Warwick to ride the Washington Secondary path Saturday. I started kind of slowly as I set off for the Cranston end. My legs were still a tad stiff from riding the night before. It was earlier in the morning than I usually get there, so there were fewer people than usual. Hardly anyone, in fact. Very nice.

As I passed behind the Cranston Lowe's just short of the north end of the path, a young woman waved me down to ask if this was indeed the Washington Secondary bike path, and could I point her in the direction of Coventry. I assured her it was, pointed her back the way I'd come, and sent her on her way. Then I finished pedaling the last few hundred yards to the north end and turned around.

By this time my legs were pretty loose, there was no wind, and the path goes slightly down grade, so I was making pretty good speed. That section of the path is pretty straight, and with so few people on it, I could see a long ways down it. The young woman was there, maybe a quarter mile ahead. What was interesting to me was that as fast as I was going, I didn't seem to be getting any closer to her. On the other hand, she wasn't pulling away, either.

The I lost sight of her as the path took the long bend towards Arctic. I didn't see her again until I started across the Bradford trestle and saw her getting back on her bike after stopping on the trestle to take in the view. I waved as I went by, and said hello again. She matched my speed and we started talking about the path. It was her first time riding it, and she wondered if the Coventry end was a little prettier than the Cranston end. (It is.)

It was fun. We rode at a pace that seemed to suit both of us (or, at least, it suited me perfectly). And we talked about bike paths and biking, her future, my past. She's just graduated college, and is soon headed for Prague to teach English. I talked about my grandparents' experiences coming over from what became the Czech Republic, and my very brief attempt to learn a little Czech. We talked about the local bike paths. Although she usually rides East Bay, it turns out we both like Blackstone the best, which is not all that surprising if you've ridden it.

It turned out the reason she'd had to flag me down is that she'd parked at Lowe's, and saw the little side bike path that circles Tongue Pond, thought that was the main path and started riding on that. After a couple of laps she realized she doing orbits, and finally found the access path to the main path, which is when she saw me. So there I was, knight on a shining charger, er, bicycle, pointing the distressed damsel in the right direction. Or something...

Anyway, we got to the far end, where the paved path turns into the gravel Trestle Trail, and we turned around. Another 10 miles later we were back at the 295 parking lot, where I'd started, and we finally introduced ourselves. Then we said our goodbyes and she headed off for Lowe's. It was one of the best hours I've spent on a bike in a long time. Bon voyage.