Leif Erickson trail is dark and damp. We roll up it, turning over pedals with legs that are something more than tired.
We’re recovering. Neither one of us really understands this “recovery ride” thing, but we’ve learned to have faith and take chances. We’re giving it a shot.
We are alone. At least so far as cyclists are concerned.
We pass one or two runners coming down, ducking out of Forest Park just in the nick of time. Outrunning the setting sun.
We’re riding straight into the darkness and we don’t care because we have lights. And a mission.
I don’t know you, but we talk without interruption, jumping from one topic to the next seamlessly. You don’t know me, but it’s comfortable, so we keep spinning our feet in ellipses as we handle the sometimes ridiculously slick terrain.
You’re more fit than I am, but it’s a recovery ride, so I’m not getting schooled tonight. I can tell that on another night, with fresher legs and more ambition, I risk getting schooled. I imagine you probably realize this, too.
It doesn’t matter right now. And it probably won’t matter then – I’m happy to go to class any night of the week if it means I’m growing and getting stronger. If you’re going to school me someday then so be it.
We turn down Saltzman and start to descend. You drop like a rock and I follow like a snail. “Try the drops,” you say. I know you’re right, and I appreciate your knowledge and your willingness to share it. I try the drops and sail a little faster.
Highway 30 is dark and sketchy but we ride two abreast regardless. We talk until the wind comes at us like an attack and then we put our heads down, find the drops, and spin through the uproar. When we can hear each other again, we resume conversation.
The miles pass quickly and my lessons are sinking in.
Maybe I love cycling more than I think. Maybe I’ve only scratched the tip of the surface. Maybe there’s more potential to this crazy, two-wheeled sport than I am willing to admit. Maybe I just needed someone to remind me.