Thirty or so years ago, still new to California, I fell in with a group of friends who rode bicycles. They did other things as well, of course, but riding bikes was the theme of our time together. We met regularly to ride in our neighborhood and local hills, and we brought our bikes to other places further away where we camped and explored and rode some more. Even when some of us had little kids, pedaling was a part of it, often with a child in a trailer attached. Mountain biking in those days was still a sort of secret, and we were strong and exuberant and always game. Dirt roads beckoned and there was an ever-present wildness at the outskirts of things. We had no idea how quickly these years would be over, distilled into memories and kodakchrome slides.
Time indeed sped forward, bringing changes and challenges, and suddenly we were not so ridiculously young, fit, and care-free. Getting together involved distance and complexities, with practicalities to consider and problems to overcome. There were long gaps between contact, and everyone was busy. But we bore witness to some milestone events in one another’s lives along the way, and we helped each other through some hard times, and the bicycle friendships endured.
And last week, The Bike Girls –Teresa, Donna, and Chris– visited for a reunion. The ranch rolled out its most extravagant springtime garb: blue sky and green grass and glorious bursts of wildflowers. We went for a ride despite rambunctious wind that howled in our ears, pushing against us, shoving us forward, now and then nearly tipping us over. My friends were frisky, and I knew I was the weak link, but Donna said there are no weak links, and one of the rules was not to say such things.
Yes, there were rules, but the first rule was that there are no rules, so don’t expect this to make any sense. Another rule was that whatever the day brought, we’d deal with it. And the overall feeling was one of celebration and gratitude because here we were, after all, together in this beautiful place.
There was cake involved, of course, and good conversation that usually culminated in laughter, and a champagne toast in the wind. On the last night we had a slide show as a grand finale, and there on the wall were the images of our younger selves and those of dear friends we still care about, and little children who are now all grown up and immersed in lives of their own, and places that are no longer. But it was such a good feeling to be viewing the slides together, our heads brimming with shared history, our hearts filled with love, our trusty bikes outside glinting in the moonlight.