The Greatest Distance Between Two Points

My friend Fez said, “You have a solid ability to turn a ride around at the right time,” by which he meant that I am good at making decisions about how far is far enough, but also that I’m good at returning my fellow riders to their homes by appointed hours. This is no singular talent of mine, but rather one of the outcomes from decades of failing at this task.

My longest ever ride was somewhere between 120-130 miles, and it’s tempting to say that the greatest distance between two points, that I’ve covered, is somewhere in that range. That’s far. I’ve done it a few times, and it was never easy. Again though, my experience suggests that’s not how distance works.

For example, say you bonk. I reckon the distance between wherever you are in that moment, and wherever your next source of sustenance might be is much greater. I know I have floated there in the well of suffering for whole eternities myself. I’ve lived lifetimes on the curb in front of a 7-11. I’ve finished big rides, far afield, and then sat in the front seat of my car with my mind absolutely crushed by the idea of driving all. the. way. home. Visions of the shower running over my head, of pulling on a pair of sweats and laying in the fetal position on the floor, of my wife comforting me. The riding is over, but there’s so much farther to go.

A light year is a distance, even if it sounds like a unit of time.

Maybe you didn’t bonk though. Maybe you were just supposed to be home for a thing that was important to someone who is important to you. You rode your ride, but now you’ve created a distance between you and that person. How far is that? Sometimes very far. Sometimes it takes days to traverse.

Distance, like time, is dynamic. The last ten miles are unquestionably longer than the first ten. A thirty-mile spin when you’ve been mordantly depressed for the preceding week, is much longer than a fifty-mile spin in the bright light of a positive mental mindset. Roads and trails you have never ridden are shorter than the ones you’ve rolled a thousand times before. The last mile home, when you’re late, is 100 miles long.

TCI is sponsored by Shimano North America, the people who make us go, in more ways than one.

Join the conversation
  1. johnrom719 says

    Surely your wife doesn’t comfort you when you’ve spent yourself on the bike, right? That’s a dysfunctional fever dream if I ever had one! The act of driving all the way home, and then being a dad, husband, employee, and useful human being….that is why we need the project. Getting comforted for being a fifty year d knucklehead? Nah, that’s not good for anybody.

  2. TominAlbany says

    Sometimes the longest distance between two points is between your ears…

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