Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friends in the darkness

The ring of my cell phone interrupted my Friday morning commute. I was instantly annoyed, but the rarity of a call at 7:30 a.m. made me pull over to see if it was important. “Hello?” I answered.

“Oh, OK,” was all that my friend Claire said after hearing my voice.

She had heard on a radio traffic report that a bike rider was down and an ambulance was on the way. It wasn’t along my route to work, but she knows I sometimes stray widely off course to run errands. She wanted to know that I wasn’t the person lying on the pavement in the dark.

I tucked my phone in my pocket and resumed pedaling as I ran through a mental checklist of friends who might be riding in the area of the accident. It wasn’t far from the home of a co-worker who sometimes pedals to work, and I found myself hoping she’d be at the office when I arrived.

Bike commuting is a lonelier activity this time of year. Cold and darkness has thinned the herd, so fewer morning riders are out there, and they’re harder to see. Some are hidden by darkness, while others become faceless beams of bright, blinding light when two riders meet on a path. It’s harder to make eye contact and feel connections.

As we ride across dark cities behind our little beams of light, it’s nice to have reminders that we’re not really alone.

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