Solitude is not isolation. Solitude is the feeling of peace that comes through self introspection conducted alone. Isolation is the feeling of malice that comes from deliberately cutting oneself off from the people or things that one loves. Like many cyclists, I find solitude on my bike.
Time in the saddle gives me time to relax, recap, check in with myself and check out of the day to day humdrum buzz of life. I need a good twenty minutes for this state to arrive, anything less and I’m still working the kinks out of my legs and still too conscious of the minor discomforts of the ride.
But after about twenty minutes on the bike, it becomes easier — the blood has reached my muscles, fully oxygenating them. My legs awaken to a muscle memory from childhood. The minor aches and pains fade and I feel fully alive, gliding over the pavement to the steady cadence of my peddling.
Moments on the bike become life affirming. You pass the old guy in a bright fluorescent yellow safety vest. He recognizes you and smiles as he give you a thumbs up. You catch a glimpse of a foal suckling at its mother in an open pasture. The sun warms your face on those cold winter rides.
During these stolen moments, a paradox plays out. In the massive release of physical energy, your mental stores get recharged. This is why we ride.