ALEXANDRIA, Va.—It’s a pretty day in Virginia. My wife and I just packed up our mud-covered cycles and loaded them into our van’s cargo hold. We are officially done riding the trail.
We’ve been cycling trails for a long time this last month. We’ve been on the Great Allegheny Passage, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal trail, and the Mount Vernon Trail. Our entire lives have been crammed into saddlebags. We’ve lived on basic foods, without access to good mayonnaise. We’ve used horrifying public restrooms. And now it’s all over.
The first thing I’ve learned from this long-distance trip is that I’m very out of shape.
My legs are aching, our hindparts are bruised, and one of my wife’s hands is still numb. But we’re both slimmer than before. And we’re consuming more anti-inflammatory meds, too.
Without a doubt, the hardest part about being on the trail is all the young people. They’re everywhere. You grow to dislike young people because they are in better shape than you and they aren’t bashful about it.
Imagine, you’re pedaling through the heart of a veritable wilderness. Struggling.
A slender kid whizzes up from behind and weaves around you like he’s annoyed, like he’s stuck in traffic behind some codger who left his blinker on.
This happened to me a lot. And no matter how fast I would pedal, the kid would always speed past me in a fury.
And those were just the kids on foot.
Sometimes young people would be friendly. They’d cruise their bikes beside you and say, “So, where’re you from?”
Between labored breaths, you’d answer, “Fl… Flor… Florida.”
Then the kid would say something, like: “Wow. You know, I really admire people your age.”
And you’d want to kill him.
Things like this wreck your trail confidence. After a while you become envious of young people. You start to feel like you are the only idiot suffering. Everyone else…