We used to tell each other that, at the bike shop, when we were broke. It was a little bit of humor that eased the pain of the microscopic paychecks. The thing is, it was really true.
Sean and Katina were in town for a wedding, last week, and they stopped by the house on Monday to hang out and visit for a couple of hours. We talked about all the things friends who haven't seen each other in a while will talk about, and the subject of bike riding came up.
I know Sean because he was a customer, then a mechanic, at Destinations when he was in high school. He worked with me at Campus in 2001, during Summer Break from college. So, he understood when I said to him that I was disappointed to not have a ready group of people available to ride with.
Most of the people I once rode with on a regular basis have grown up, or at least grown older, and their lives have changed to the point that they can't constantly go on bike rides. I ride to work, daily, in part because it gives me a reason to ride alone. If I wait for company to ride, it can be a week, or more, between rides.
But, when we all worked in the bike shop, there was always someone who was ready and willing for a ride. It wasn't necessarily always me: Sometimes it was two or three other people riding as I went home. But, for the most part, if I wanted to ride, then either a fellow employee or a customer would be available to go, as well.
I went mountain biking an average of 4 or 5 times a week, back then. And I was on the road bike at least once a week. I rode often enough, and hard enough, the first year that I worked at Destinations that I went from 190 pounds, in January, to 150 pounds in October. People thought I had cancer, or something.
Riding bikes was more than a hobby, then. It was more than transportation, or exercise, or a business. For me, it truly was a lifestyle.
I miss those days (but not those paychecks).