The Last Bike Ride (of 2021): Rolling with Rhodney

The year began like it ended, with your humble correspondent throwing a leg over the top tube and pedaling. Neither far nor fast, but flat. Nothing remarkable, save for the fact that I have this platform from which to remark about it. After all, bicycling is a relatively simple act that hundreds of millions of people around the world do. Many much “better” than I. But as someone reminded me, everyone has their story, and here I’ve tried to tell mine, for what it’s worth. Everyone also has obstacles in their life, be they genetic, disability or health-related, environmental, social, economic, or political, and there are many other things that make it “hard”. I try not to focus on these challenges, although I do grouse at times. (It’s my blog and I’ll whinge if I want to.) In the end, one hopes that something good comes out of their efforts, or at least nothing too bad. Just a simple bike ride is its own reward, though.

So on Friday, December 31, 2021, another unseasonably warm day in Austin, Texas, I went on the last bike ride. I contacted old friend Rhodney, and as he was lacking ride time lately he was happy to join. Logistics were shaky but we finally met up and I guided us toward downtown. Unconsciously so, to get my mail. The streets were fairly empty, and what tourists and locals were out seemed to be going about their business or pleasure. He had wanted to drive to the lake and ride around it, but the place is lousy with looky-loo pedestrians not paying attention. I suggested we head east and that was fine with him. He’s an older guy, affable and generally easygoing unless you get snippy. (Don’t get snippy with me, Mr. McGee!)

When the temperature is agreeable — not too hot, and not too cold, biking is that much more pleasant. I felt a vibration of hope due to the anticipation of 2021 passing and 2022 taking over. Perhaps it was my own projection, cynical though I may seem and be at times; there’s also room for a skosh of optimism. The changing of the guard from one year to the next brings that out in we humans for some reason. Out with the old, in with the new. There’s an unspoken hope that this next year will be less about the coronavirus pandemic, even as it appears that will not be the case. Thanks a lot, omicron variant of COVID-19.

We traversed the brick-laden University of Texas mall, devoid of most students. A few were milling about and like us, wearing short pants and sleeves in the 80-degree weather. I showed Rhodney where the bathrooms were at the completely revitalized Waterloo Park; I took pictures as we rode the circular path. Passing underneath the dome of the Texas State Capital, the flags were at half mast yet again. I would have thought it was for our national treasure, funny woman Betty White, who at 99 a few weeks shy of a century shuffled off her mortal coil. Alas, it was for Senator Harry Reid, who as it happens was from the town my grandparents settled in years ago. As northern Nevada bikepacking cyclist (and pretty good one at that) and blogger Kurstin Graham knows, it’s a beautiful state. When it’s not too hot or too cold.

As we rode, I noticed a few people working or doing errands, but it also felt like a bit of a ghost town. Fitting, because Rhodney was riding his GHOST brand bike, and he, Lauren and I recently redid the ghost bike for Merry “Cookie” Daye. Wending our way towards the East Side, we stopped by a bar that is often staffed by a relative of A Midnight Rider, who visited back in October. (See Worlds Collide: A Midnight Rider Visits A Dude Abikes.) But they weren’t there and time was short so we headed back north.

When we ride together, it’s usually fairly slow, with a good bit of chatting as traffic allows. Rhodney is content to let me lead, since I tend to know the way far better than he. It’s a social ride of two. I scanning for traffic and making sure my guest star wasn’t in trouble behind me. Glancing at my Garmin activity watch as the 15.7 miles remaining to meet my annual goal ticked off, there was time to reflect upon the accomplishments of the year. They’ll appear soon after all the data is in. Traveling the relatively recently reconstructed Boggy Creek Trail, eventually time came to part ways. No tickets, wrecks, or mechanical issues occurred, so I considered that a successful ride. Thanks to Rhodney for joining me a dozen or so rides this year.

Enough about me. Other bloggers have celebrated successful years on the bicycle, or walking, running, reading, writing, and other activities. Many faithfully bestow “likes” and comments of encouragement. I can’t thank you all, but a few in particular deserve commendation. Idlecyclist (Ireland), Rootchopper (Virginia), Tempo Cyclist (Australia), Half-fast Cycling Club (Wisconsin), Frugal Average Bicyclist (Wisconsin), View from the Back (France), Los Relatos de Moises (Spain), Bike Goddess, and good ol’ Sorryless (Pennsylvania). Sorry if I’ve left anyone off, but I thank everyone who has liked, commented, followed, and especially READ my blog.

Let’s hope for a better 2022.

Sincerely yours, A Dude Abikes.

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7 thoughts on “The Last Bike Ride (of 2021): Rolling with Rhodney

  1. Thanks so much Dude. Austin looks amazing and 80 degrees is perfect. I’ll take it. I wore 5 layers and my fleece lined leggings for a ride today. Yep, blog post coming. Stay safe and keep writing and riding, but not at the same time. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

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