Space for Conversation

Space for Conversation Close Encounters of the Fat-Tire Kind

I used to work for wages as a tool under employer will. Eventually, choosing to shirk the restraints of debt, I sold my house and whatever other stuff people would buy to condense my life to the interior of a Sprinter van and the wide-open outdoors. My van is noticeable on purpose. I want to provide an example of getting something for yourself.

Since hitting the road in July 2008, I have ridden in 49 states—some 2,600 rides over 38,234 miles and counting. While I spend much of my time alone, my adventures teach me lessons about meeting others. Together, people make group decisions. Solo, I make my support group out of whomever else.

“Is that your green Sprinter with all the stickers at the trailhead?” an approaching rider asks. “I remember reading about your Mountain Biking the States adventure and thought that was so cool.”

So starts a conversation between someone who knows a bit about me while I know nothing about them. Most often, my conversations with fellow riders follow a familiar pattern, their questions centering on my life on the road or places to ride or visit. On some occasions, conversations take unexpected turns. Recently I met a rider who told me he worked at a hospice. Forgoing the usual mountain biker banter, we instead talked about the ways in which people face the end of their lives.

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