As the weather turns cold and winter arrives, many cycling tourists will pack away their panniers and hang up the bike, pining for warmer weather and scheming up their next big bicycle getaway. The snow has come early this year for a large swath of the US, including a rare storm that brought a bit of the white stuff to the southern states. As I write this from my home in Baltimore, the snow has begun to fall for the second time in a week, and it seems to only be getting colder.
With touring off the table for those of us in the cold states more accustomed to creature comforts, my thoughts turn inward. This is especially the case during the holiday season. And this gets me thinking about friends and family, and how the hobby of cycling has in more than one instance helped me to establish better relationships and deeper bonds with those around me.
At a young age I was taught by my father to ride a bike, and as a child I spent many hours riding, though only in the way that all children enjoy riding. I took up cycling as a hobby and passion within the past five years, starting in my mid-20s after more than a decade without so much as picking up a bike.
Serendipitously, a number of friends also had a knack for cycling (or perhaps this is what inspired me) and we formed a small crew, riding nearly every day and everywhere. On weekends I rode with my sister and her husband as they trained for triathlons. This shared experience added a richness to these relationships that can only be established over hours of riding side-by-side, sharing joys and hardships, long talks, spectacular accidents, competition and triumph.
My family has only grown recently as I wed a beautiful woman earlier this year and gained a few in-laws. And while many have nothing but complaints about their in-laws, I connect with my new father-in-law over that shared experience of bicycle touring. He has ridden up and down the east coast, across the Carolinas, Scotland, and undertakes a bike version of the famed Camino de Santiago in Spain every couple of years. While we have yet to tackle a ride together, at the very least holiday meals are less awkward as we share our war stories of past travels.
A spirited ride on Christmas Eve has become an annual tradition among my friends and I, and though the number of riders has grown smaller over the years, I think this holiday jaunt, for me, captures the meaning of the season perfectly. While it might be years away, I look forward to sharing the joy of cycling with my own family as it grows, passing down this Christmas Eve tradition to the next generation and bonding in a way that only cycle touring can allow.
Here’s wishing a happy holiday season to all and great things for the new year. Can’t wait for the new adventures it holds.