Distance Makes The Riders Grow Fonder

The riders I meet five miles outside of town are not the same riders I meet fifty miles outside of town. Five miles out, we wave and exchange hellos. Fifty miles out, one rider turns around to join the other.

I wrote this in 2012. In 2014, it actually happened. It was day three of my ride from Richmond to Virginia Tech (RIC to VT, day 3 | Ride | Strava), riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I passed another cyclist also carrying panniers and we waved and nodded, but kept pedaling past. I kept kicking myself for not turning around. Ten miles later, a pannier-less rider approached. We waved and he turned around, saying, “Looks like your in for a long haul.” He rode along with me for several miles and we exchanged stories. Eventually he said he had to get home. We said our goodbyes and he turned and rode off. It was a wonderful meeting, and it made me regret it even more that I hadn’t done the same for the earlier rider.

I was given a second chance on my 2019 East Coast retreat. It was day two of my ride from Charlotte, NC to Harrisburg, PA (NC to PA, Day 2: Greensboro, NC to Lynchburg, VA | Ride | Strava), about 80miles into a 120mile ride. On an open road cutting farmland, a biker approached. We waved and then I turned around, asking, “You want some company for a bit?” He said “sure” and we rode along for a short bit. Then he said, “with your bags, you clearly need to be somewhere, so how about we turn around and head your way?” I happily obliged. As I told him about my planned route for getting into Lynchburg, he gave me several pro-tips about the roads ahead. Several miles later, he turned back to head in his original direction.

In both cases, after the ride I went to Strava Flybys to find them so I could reach out and thank them for the conversation. Unfortunately, in both cases, I came up empty.

If I turned to join a fellow rider five miles outside of town, I’m sure it would be deemed creepy. Fifty miles out, it felt natural.

Looking forward to more run-ins with “out there” riders.