I rode my recumbent trike to Lake Casitas from Ventura today. I went with a group, although I hardly saw anyone most of the day. I saw them at the beginning, at one break in the middle, and at lunch. Otherwise I rode alone.
Most of these riders are very slow. Some are so slow they've taken to starting out several hours early so they stand a chance of reaching the lunch stop in time to eat with the others. Being slow is not so bad but I have ridden with this group for many years now and over all these years they have only gotten slower and more hill-averse. This is not a fitness-oriented riding group.
A few of the riders are very fast. I have no hope of keeping up with them but occasionally I try. Not today, though. Some of these really super fast guys have cancer or other terrible illnesses. Most of them are quite old. They keep me humble.
But whether people in this group are fast or slow, they are still bike geeks. There's something I just don't quite get about bike geeks. I find the whole subject of bike parts and new bike technologies incredibly dull, but bike geeks can't get enough of that stuff. For them, the purchase doesn't stop at the bike. It continues indefinitely as they spend huge amounts of time poring over improvements and gadgets and enhancements they can make. Trike riders seem worse than other bike geeks because not only are there regular bike geek things to obsess over, there are special trike paraphernalia like flags and whirly-gigs to make a statement about visibility and dorkdom.
It's like the bike isn't a tool for these nice folks to go out and have adventures. All it seems to be is a huge shopping (and eating) opportunity. And for that reason, I often feel I have little in common with these folks. So I usually show up for my ride, do my best to get a little exercise, try not to get too glazed over when one of them discusses bike geek stuff with me, and then I go home.
Today had a bright spot when I learned that one of them rode his trike from Astoria to San Francisco. He had stories to tell of riding his trike all day on a sort of cycling PCT, the Pacific Coast bike route. Hundreds of people ride this route every year and he had a wonderful time meeting other riders on this route, spending time with them in town stops and leapfrogging them on each day's journey. There were moments like stopping at a roadside rest stop and being surrounded by huge RVs and realizing how different it feels to travel with so little. Moments spent camping in hiker/biker sites surrounded by people whose ideas of camping were to go outside and cook something then eat it inside the RV in front of the TV and realizing how few kids every really get to see the stars anymore. Every day he churned his granny gear up long climbs that lost him tons of weight and granted him freedom to eat as much as he wanted.
In other words, it was my first ride with this group where I actually related to someone. When I mention my PCT hike to the others they say things like, "I bet you are glad that's over and you can get back to doing regular things now." Here was someone who understood and who could tell me stories of an adventure that was the same and also very different from mine. It was a nice time.