Most bike adventure I take is by myself. Some of that is due to schedule: though my job now is way more on the conventional side, for the most part the time that I can gracefully take off hasn’t coincided super well with other people’s schedules. Even now I end up with chunks of time off at specific intervals, chunks that are difficult for other people to work around.
But that may be a convenient story I tell myself, an excuse rather than a real reason. Because you know what? It turns out that I like adventure by myself. I like being able to make all the decisions, to go without a plan if I don’t want one. I like knowing that I’m relying on myself and, conversely, that the only person I have to worry about is myself. I like time spent alone. I can play at extroversion — much of what I choose to do in the world involves working with, volunteering with, or helping other people, and I love it — but inevitably I want some time to myself afterwards.
Sometimes, though, I remember that things with other people are nice too, that it doesn’t have to be a black-and-white choice between crowds and alone. Last weekend’s Cycle Wild trip to Eagle Creek was one of those times.
Cycling trips (like any arbitrary group of people thrown together) are always sort of a wild card. Will people want to hang out, or will they want to do their own thing? Will we chat a lot and find bunches of things in common, or will we make polite small talk to fulfill our social obligations before we go our separate ways? Will we secretly annoy each other or overtly energize each other? I feel like as a ride leader, my job is to navigate and to some extent shape those interactions, or at least smooth things over so that the largest number of people get the most of what they want out of the trip.
Last weekend’s trip was fantastic, though, and required little shaping, since everyone was psyched to be there and hang out. We rode out together, we shared lunch together, we went hiking. On Sunday, we left for home at the same time and stopped at Oneonta Gorge to wade up the canyon together. But even with all that, we had some alone time. I watched the sunset while a few people went to Cascade Locks for dinner and some others hung back at the campsite. I had morning time to read my book by the river while another woman read her book and the others packed up. It was fantastic, a perfect blend of togetherness and autonomy. And it reminded me that I don’t have to adventure by myself to have a good time. In fact, other people along truly enriches the experience.
…That being said, I am super batshit crazy excited for a solo adventure coming up a few weeks from now, three whole September weeks to tour the world. heh. At least, a small part of it. Between joint adventure with awesome people and solo adventure to nourish my soul, I’m feeling like a pretty darn lucky lady these days:)
P.S. The next Cycle Wild trip is coming up next weekend, August 22-23. It’ll be a rad excursion to Milo McIver State Park, starting with a home-cooked breakfast. Get the details here.