No amount of rationalization can change cycling from what it really is: a solitary pursuit. Cyclists form clubs, groups, coalitions, but when it comes right down to it, each of us mounts a bike alone and rides into the unknown.
Some days the weather is with us. Other days we ride through driving rain, thunder and lightning, sleet and snow. Just us and our bikes.
Sure, we see other cyclists. We wave to each other as a sign of camaraderie. Yet, each of us rides alone, except for that brief moment when we are united by an understanding of what it is to fly through the air with two wheels whirring beneath us. Whether on paved roads or hilly, rocky land, we feel the wind rushing past our ears, stinging our eyes in winter and cooling our skin in summer.
When riding in traffic, there is a heightened sense of vulnerability. Nothing stands between us and several tons of metal. Alertness is crucial to survival. Learning to listen for the sound of engines approaching; practicing flowing through a maze of cars; signaling to distracted motorists as if they would notice our presence. It’s just one against the elements, one against machinery, one in the face of danger, one pedaling with the rhythm of the cyclical stroke. Cycling is a solitary pursuit.