Be sure to read about my first solo bike camping trip, in Part One of this post. Along the way, I saw this church slogan in South Hayward:
Milan Kundera writes about coincidences in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:“[Human lives] are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence…into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life.”
The slogan in the picture says,
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
It struck me because I was going faster than I have ever before on a bike, and I was bike camping solo for the first time as well. The second part, however, rang false. I thought, I am going pretty darn far all by myself, thank you very much.
The day after getting back from my ride, I had to let a boy down. He pushed hard and early that he was looking for a long-term relationship, even though we had known each other less than two weeks. Yet, despite our extraordinary chemistry riding bicycles and romancing each other, I already knew I would not be happy with him in the forever sense. We were in different places and had different goals in life. I could not possibly keep mum and have my fun, so I decided to end things right away.
I understood then that I could interpret the church sign by its corollary.“If you go solo, go fast. If you go together, go far.”
On this second reading the message became a challenge, not an admonition. My brain and body are separated from yours by flesh and air. Flesh and air. Materials of lower conductance relative to my own brain-body connection of nerve and synapse. Traveling together necessarily compromises speed and efficiency. But traveling in numbers also promises safety, security and stability — and the possibility of summing our success to greater than our parts.
I have been after-burning energy, adventure and change since getting flung out of a long-term, impossibly stable relationship. The new boy got a “no” answer because I saw, perhaps assumed and maybe feared that he was a building a straight and narrow road plainly seen for miles, around which we’d build a one-horse town. I felt like Hell’s Angels riding in loud, fast and furious. I hadn’t yet even run down a tank of gas and I blew out of there before getting my butt landed in 35 to life.
Yet, I know that in traveling alone – this applies both to being single and to biking solo – I can easily begin to feel like a hermit crab lugging my home around on my back. I will tire and wish someone else could carry the burden, or at least I could draft behind them in a headwind.
I know I’m pushing myself hard. I know I’m hardly taking time for physical recovery in this process of self-soul recovery. I look forward to resting after wearying, and speeding ahead to pull — myself and whoever else is with me — on my own power again.