A Sunday morning ride, with one friend, local, not getting too close to each other, and conversation is a struggle.
We are both interesting (!?) and accomplished (!!??) people with stuff to say about all manner of cutting-edge conversational topics. We can talk politics, house prices, disc brakes, gravel bikes, tubeless tires; you name it.
And road biking lends itself to a bit of chat. In between the climbs and the efforts it’s a great way to catch up, crack a few gags, occasionally even get a bit existential and meaning-of-life.
I once spent an hour on the bike spilling my heart to a pal about my hopes, fears, and dreams for the future. Admittedly, in summing up we agreed that none of this was stuff that couldn’t be solved with a week of summer riding in the French Alps.
Because that was the answer to everything.
Until now, and Covid-19. Wherever we start we always end at Covid. No area of our lives are untouched by it. The French Alps are a pipe dream.
So, on this Sunday ride, twenty miles in and we both go quiet. The to and fro of chat replaced by stony silence. We’re both thinking the same: “what can I talk about that doesn’t end in Covid?”
The world has shrunk, see. The simple fact of not being out and about among people, interacting, reflecting back against other humans, has caused the synapses to frazzle and corrode. This is simple science. I get that a lack of conversation on a bike ride is inconsequential in the context of a global pandemic, but still.
It’s a little thing.
Part of the chip-chip away at the little pleasures in life.
And then…haha! Saved. Pedaling along at a fair clip, half-wheeling each other to fill the awkward silence, we spot Pampas grass in the front garden of a big rural house. My eyes light up at the prospect of a good three minutes’ worth of Covid-free chat.
“Ey up,” I say, “Pampas grass in the front garden…that used to mean you were a swinger didn’t it? A signal to the neighbours to pop round and stick the car keys in the ol’ fruit bowl and see how your luck is?”
“Hehe yeah,” my mate replies, “you don’t get much swingin’ these days though eh, it’s all doggin’ nowadays.”
“Mucky business that. Swingin’ was good ol’ fashioned smut, doggin’ gives them all a bad name. Anyway…you’ve got Pampas grass in your garden haven’t you? Does that mean, y’know…(wink)”
“Haha. All quiet on that front at the moment I’m afraid. Covid, innit!”