The Wednesday night bike ride seems to be a tradition across the nation. It’s a midweek escape from the hustle and bustle of the working life, an opportunity to let off steam, something to look forward to other than the weekend. Here in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, the Wednesday night group ride is a sacred ritual to those who regularly partake.
The email goes out Tuesday night–where we’ll be riding, where we should meet, and what time. We always gather shortly after 5pm, members of the group slowly arriving as they get off work. Sometimes it’s a large group, other times it’s only a couple of us. In the winter our numbers dwindle, but as the earth warms and the sun graces us with its presence longer in the evening, more mountain bike enthusiasts begin emerging from hibernation and joining the evening knobby-tired festivities.
It’s a motley crew we have. We all come from different backgrounds, different professions, different everyday lifestyles, different beliefs. Our ages range from 15 to 65. Some of us ride every day, others every couple months. Many of us are good friends, but others are strangers, joining us for the first time, or just passing through. We all have different bikes–fat tires, full suspensions, half-fats, full-rigids, gears, and singlespeeds of every color. While everyday life may separate us, on Wednesday nights we all come together to ride mountain bikes. We may all ride for different reasons, but we are all united by a shared activity and a common passion. For a few hours, as we fly down hills and huff and puff and grunt our way up them, nothing else matters.
At the end of the ride, we’ll all crack open beers and pass them around, sharing stories, discussing the past couple hours on the trail–how we felt, our favorite parts, the epic moments, the things we could have done better. We laugh together as we strip off our sweaty clothes and cycling shoes and change into something dry and comfortable. We load up our now-muddy bikes into vehicles as diverse as the people who drive them and, sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once, we start our engines and drive away, back to our separate lives until we are reunited by the dirt once again.