There are two ways of wandering about and exploring the beautiful world during a lovely summer: in the company, or the right way. Now, I’m not as big a loner as I used to be, but I’ve tried it both ways, and let me tell you, the gift of wandering isn’t one that I should share.
I’ve discussed solitude before so I won’t be focusing on that again. But every so often I get reminded just how valuable moments you get to spend alone with yourself really are.
I’m used to biking alone. My brother, the only person who would occasionally go for a ride with me isn’t such a big fan of biking as me, so most of the time it’s just me and my thoughts. And I love it. More than that, I need it. But I’m great at it too.
Biking alone and biking with someone are two different experiences for me, both mentally and physically. I’m not as comfortable singing to myself when there’s someone riding next to me, and I’ve been told it’s also annoying to the people around. Honestly, I don’t think I need to explain why it feels so much different, you all know the difference between being alone and being with people, so I won’t bother. I’ll only add, that since I carry a camera with me, I make stops frequently, which also isn’t that fun for those weirdos who either aren’t interesting in taking photos or can’t see the beauty that I see in the world.
But here’s the thing. The company can change the experience, usually for the worse, even if it’s just other cyclists you don’t know. Right?
There is something magical, mystical in being alone in wide spaces, like open fields, when there’s nobody around as far as the eye can see, and just an empty road stretching from here to the horizon. Being so disconnected from the rest of the world is always an incredible experience, and when you find this peace and solitude in the open world – even more powerful.
And while it’s not like a single passerby would ruin my ride, of course not. But I do always choose paths that I predict will be the least… occupied. I occasionally happen to change the direction, pick an alternate route if I see people going in the same direction as me.
I know it’s not any kind of an anxiety either. I’m familiar with anxiety, and it’s not it. No, this feels more like an annoyance. Like when you planned to hit the beach and it’s raining outside, you know.
And I’m willing to go great distances to “clear the sky”. I would say about half of my now-regularly-visited routes were discovered when I tried to avoid other cyclists on my usual paths, and so I just spontaneously turned into forest here, went right when I should be going left there etc.
What can I say? I like singing to myself, and aloud too when I’m riding a bike. And since I’ve been told it’s annoying, I’m doing other cyclists a favor. I like sudden stops to take a photo of something as intriguing and mesmerizing as a wooden plate, standing pointlessly in the middle of a wheat field, with a pink heart painted on it, or something as meaningless and common as a dead tree. That’s what biking is for me. If I can’t do the same things, the things I enjoy most, when I’m in a company, be it a company of strangers of friends, why force myself to anything?
No, I’ll do the things I love the way I love doing them. I can be social, I can be friendly. But biking, well, left biking to me. It’s mine, and you can’t have it. You wouldn’t handle it.
Like I said before, it’s more than an exercise for me, more than a hobby. Whatever it is exactly, I know it’s important, crucial even. I wouldn’t have beaten my depression if it wasn’t for day-long solitary rides, and the blessing these rides offer is only getting greater, more beautiful each year.
So you do your things, I’ll do mine. And “together” we can do some different things.
Enjoy the photos.
I’m a wandering man, the heir of the crown
A lonely knight, I’m roaming around
I’ll never rest, I’ll never give in
Until my quest, has come to the end