On less than a day's notice Rick, Christine, and Janice responded to my email by agreeing to join me on a 100K ride that visits locations used as stops on the underground railroad in south Jersey.
Rick later sent an email that reminded us all that, 10 years ago, to the day, the four of us rode together on a 200K south Jersey route and he sent us a link to this blogpost about that ride. He called it our 10th anniversary.
It became an earworm, lingering in the back of my thoughts; filling the silence between them.
So much has happened and, yet, here we are.
Arriving at the start, the winter sun is just beginning its southern path in the sky. It comes at us at an angle, providing light in ways that softens lines on faces, a way that forgives the passage of time.
Now we are in the youth of old age. Our conversations touch on audacious cycling adventures and the realities of growing older. We tell stories about riding distances beyond any sense of normal and the struggles that come with grown up decisions. We talk of trip plans and retirement. The aging and passing of parents. Children that are now adults. The conversation ebbs and flows. It gives and takes. We breathe in and breathe out. We ride on.
We are in the wind. Snow geese fly in a peloton across the cloudless blue sky. They draft each other to make their passage easier. The rising sun brightly sparkles against the white of their chest feathers while their black wing tips set a staccato rhythm to their movement that resonates with the small circles of our feet against our pedals. We admire and ride on.
We are in the stream of history. The route we ride visits locations from the underground railroad. Some are in disrepair others have a place of prominence. All are testament to endurance, daring and optimism. We reflect and ride on.
The end of the ride is a quiet affair. A short conversation and until next time.
After we depart, the last decade is on my mind. The memories include profound sadness and immeasurable joy but mostly thankfulness. For life, family, friendship, for all of it. Because life is, and always has been, a gift.
We ride on.