6: Riding the Road to Friendship

6: Riding the Road to Friendship

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Riding the Road to Friendship

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.

~H.G. Wells

I was a Northern newcomer to a Southern adult community. I knew no one and was feeling very out of place and lonesome. I wanted desperately to make new friends.

Day after day, I saw groups of cyclers riding throughout the community and beyond the gates. Dressed in black Spandex riding shorts, brightly colored biking shirts, gloves and helmets, they appeared to be having a great time together. I looked longingly at them as they rode in pace lines of eight to twelve riders.

I knew how to ride a bike, but couldn’t imagine myself ever accomplishing the level of riding I saw. I read an article in the community newspaper inviting those interested in biking to join a beginner’s cycling group. It is not like me to join something where I know no one, but I pushed myself to attend an organizational meeting. I immediately began chatting with two women and we committed to our first group ride taking place later in the week.

Twelve men and women ventured out on our first eight-mile ride. We slowly pedaled in a long line through the quiet streets of our community. We began to meet three times a week, and steadily increased our distance and speed. Stopping for refreshments became the norm and we soon adopted our mantra, “We bike for food.” As we sat chatting over coffee, strong friendships began to form. Many of us found we had other interests in common and began exploring them together.

Now, comfortable with several members of the cycling club, I decided to attend a few of their social events, a luncheon, a fifties party, and a holiday gathering. There, I met more folks. Men from the cycling group brought their wives to the social events and wives brought their non-cycling partners. Out of these gatherings grew a small dinner group and again my circle expanded. More opportunities for new friendships opened up when our club members planned a few overnight cycling trips in conjunction with other clubs from various parts of the state.

All of these new friendships were made possible by taking that first step outside my comfort zone. I now ride fifty to 100 miles a week, have improved my health, and have more friends than I ever imagined. Taking that first step and trying something new opened up a whole new world of fun and friendships for me.

~Mary Grant Dempsey

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