The feeling came on fast, aching loneliness. It began creeping last night at the hostel and then picked up at dawn, as I rode to the start of the Santa Cruz Randonneurs 200K. The first ride of the season. I watched the birds observe the rising of the sun, lifting together in an effortless, coordinated way above the water. My thoughts were lonely, abandoned thoughts.
We spent hours together out there, taking care of each other, telling stories. Where's Donn, my brevet buddy? Miss him so much, it hurts. The newbies are pretenders, nothing like us.
Am I really the only one left? How can that be? I'm not ready to go on alone. Why am I the one who's left, out here riding long rides? Maybe it's time to pack it in...
West Cliff Drive might be the most scenic approach to any brevet, anywhere, I roll up at the Santa Cruz Lighthouse, 6:40am, ready to sign in. I'm doing this one, alone, whatever. Leading and facilitating are Lois and Bill, the organizers, longtime randonneurs, longer than me. Many, many kilometers to their credit.
In the next few minutes Jim Bradbury rolls up, followed by Kim Freitas. Both have been randonneuring since before I started in 1998. They were great mentors on Paris-Brest-Paris 1999. I do remember before PBP 2003, that moment in a Breton creperie in St Quentin-en-Yvelines, Jim being so keyed up he pronged a fork high into the air during dinner. Both he and Kim have similar stories about me, I'm sure.
This is possibly the largest grouping of real, bonafide anciens et anciennes in recent memory. We're all here, with more than 20 PBPs among us. There's no need to feel alone.
Of course, Jim and Kim and I ride the whole 200K together. The whole sunny day. On the gorgeous California coast.
Yeah take that, loneliness. Move along!