This morning I was cycling along the Wildlife Drive at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Coming toward me were two cyclists, looking like serious types and riding really fast for this road, which is a great place to cool down and mellow out after a good ride. We traded the usual wave and hello in passing. I looked back and saw they had turned around and were coming back my way, so I stopped and waited for them.
“Do you know where we are?” one of them asked me. “I can’t find it on the map.” He hauled out a map of bike rides around the county. “You’re on the Wildlife Drive. How did you get here?” “Dunno, but we don’t know where we are.” Sure enough, the Wildlife Drive isn’t on the map, so I showed them where we were.
“Where do you want to go?” I asked. They both grinned from ear to ear. “We don’t care, we just want to ride.” Ah, I understood. This wasn’t about sight seeing, this was about riding long and riding hard. About going for a solid burn, from legs to lungs. Yep — that would put a grin on any cyclist’s face.
So, I showed them a good route that would take them about 60 miles and off they headed. I found myself thinking about them as I continued chasing a little burn of my own. Did they find shelter from the brief thundershower that blew through around noon? When they got to Hooper Island, did they stop at the little convenience store for a snack? Buy something and ask politely and the guy behind the counter might let you use the bathroom. In Vermont, they call that “Snickers bar diplomacy”.
And when this great day on the bike inevitably came to an end, did they think, like me, how lucky they were to be cyclists?