On my way out of town for a sunny Sunday ride this past weekend, a woman on a bike approaching me quickly pulled her buff up over her face, swerved toward me on the two-way bike path and yelled, “PUT ON A MASK!” Then she kept on riding down the hill toward other cyclists and runners I’d passed who also weren’t wearing masks. I had a feeling I knew what they were in for.
I don’t wear a mask when I ride or run. Because of that, I’m cautious, I don’t ride or run in crowded places, and I give people plenty of room on roads, paths, and trails. I’ve even gone the wrong way and out of my way to make sure people have enough space to feel safe. I do bring a bandana with me everywhere I go just in case, but I don’t like to wear it because I feel like I can’t breathe, and it quickly gets hot and wet with sweat and breath.
I get that some people don’t care, I get that some people are more sensitive than others and even some more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or any other airborne illness, but the fact that she went out of her way and into my space just to shout at me—and probably so many others who I saw not wearing masks—made me think she’d be better off just staying home.
I was annoyed about it for a couple miles, but I didn’t let it ruin the rest of my ride or weekend. It’s the reality of the situation we’re living in; times are tense and uncertain causing emotions to run wild and maybe behave in ways we normally wouldn’t. Who knows? While I don’t wear a mask, I do make sure to still smile and wave at people because we’re in this thing together for the long haul. I don’t want to give off the impression that I’m scared of other people and that other people should be afraid of me. So, I smile if only to make myself feel better.
I kept on for another 40 miles or so, getting in some good efforts here and there and a bit of climbing before heading back home where I ran into a friend who works at a coffee shop and bakery in Louisville where I live. She was delivering pastries down the street, so I made my way back to the bakery with her (she walked on the sidewalk and I slow-pedaled in the street). We caught up for a few minutes, distanced, before she said, “wait here,” and ran inside. Not a minute later, she came out with a brown bag.
“Ciabatta loaf, ham and cheese croissant, and a chocolate almond pastry. Here you go!” she said with a huge smile as she reached out and handed me the bag.
The one thing I love more than pastries and gluten-y goodness after a long ride is FREE pastries and gluten-y goodness after a long ride. I haven’t been stopping at my favorite bakeries and cafes after big days on the bike because curbside pickup is the only option lately with a call-ahead option, and the lines have been kind of long (which is a good thing!). Because of that, I was very happy and thankful for her generosity. I cycled home with the bag around my handlebars, barely able to wait to open it up and stuff some ham and cheese goodness in my mouth. What I loved even more was just seeing and talking to a friend again. I love my family Zoom calls on Sundays, but nothing replaces in-person conversations. My mental health is hanging on by a thread, you guys, haha.
Earlier in the weekend, I was able to see another friend I haven’t caught up with in forever when she stopped by to pick up my spare bike and bike trainer. We stood the recommended six feet apart while catching up on life, work, and cycling, and making plans to meet up for rides when we’ve made it out of the COVID-19 storm.
On one of my rides this weekend, I realized the real reason I have so much anxiety about not seeing friends as often, or really at all, these days is that I don’t want to be forgotten. You know when you hear a person’s name from high school and you think oh my gosh, I forgot that person existed! That. That’s what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that when we come out on the other of the pandemic that I will somehow have fewer friends and less in common with them like that bum Justin from high school I literally forgot existed. Maybe all this is because I don’t have roommates or neighbors who are friends, and because I still see bike and running friends hanging out even though it’s recommended we don’t.
I know the world will be different once we all come back to it, but I hope my friendships aren’t. I hope we pick up where we left off and start creating new memories again. I can’t wait for that!
How are you dealing with less friendship time lately?
Are you wearing masks everywhere even while exercising?
Overall, quarantine week 5 felt a lot like every other week I’ve been working and living at home. This week—week 6—is going to be an adjustment work-wise as we figure out how to organize projects with our teams after the layoffs.
Hope you are all hanging in there.