I ride early in the morning, by myself. It’s quiet then, though I live only about a half hour from Boston.
Sometimes I’ll see another bicyclist coming the other way. Always he or she will be working harder than I am, going faster.
If this happens on Charles River Road, out past Ridge Hill, the other rider probably doesn’t notice the goats that live in the front yard of one of the homes I ride past. When I go by, sometimes one of the goats looks up at me. And smiles, I think. Nobody riding by in a hurry would see it.
"Neither of the donkeys is ever bothered by me. Sometimes, if they’re not eating, they look up when I pass. I like to think they approve of my pace.”
On Wilsondale Road, which winds up and down several hills, there are half a dozen blind curves. Sometimes a big group of riders will come hurtling downhill around one of those curves, shouting at each other, sometimes looking over their shoulders. If there are enough of them, and often there are, they spill across the whole road.
“Yikes!” I think.
“Rider up!” they shout, in order to alert their racing companions to the oncoming plodder: me.
They are a greater threat than cars. And a louder one.
Once, only once, I shouted back at them as they streamed by, urging them emphatically to stay on their own side of that narrow road.
As this is a story about early morning rides that are solitary and mostly peaceful, I won’t recall for you what I shouted.
What I might have shouted, had I thought of it, is: “You’re scaring the deer!”
Because I do sometimes see deer on my rides. Sometimes one will be standing in the middle of one of those narrow, winding roads. The deer will look at me. I’ll look at the deer. Then the deer will trot into the woods and disappear. It seems magical, how they do that, though it’s probably no big deal to them.
On another road, Claybrook, I can count on seeing two donkeys who live in a shed next to a house where there used to be several rabbit hutches. The hutches are gone now. I don’t know what happened to the rabbits.
Neither of the donkeys is ever bothered by me. Sometimes, if they’re not eating, they look up when I pass. I like to think they approve of my pace.
I see horses, too, in a couple of different fields.
Once I saw a fox. Just once. It was several shades of light brown, and it was running up a hill along a wide trail that had been cut out under a power line.
That was a memorable day. But almost any ride is enjoyable, at least before and after the howling alp riders whizz by.
I’m told riding a bicycle for an hour or so is healthy exercise, even if you aren’t dressed in spandex. That’s fine. My heart and I are glad to know it’s good for us. I’d also do it if it weren’t.
This segment aired on August 27, 2016.