Fly fishing and long-distance road biking have this in common: they’re individual sports that are best enjoyable with partners. During those long hours on the water or the bike, no one will cast the line or push on the pedals for you. It’s a solitary effort. Yet it’s better to share the experience with a partner who, besides keeping you company, can back you up when the tide rises or when you have a flat or a fall. The fear of a flat is especially acute among female cyclists.
On Oct. 7, after few days of a bad cold and few days of bad weather, I finally embarked on my first bike ride of the year on Cape Cod. My goal was to make my way to the beach where my husband — without a partner that week — planned to go fly fishing and meet him there. The temperature was in the low-50s (11 degrees Celsius), with strong northwest winds. I had forgotten my rain jacket at home so I bundled up with three layers of shirts. Most of the first 12 miles (20 km) were in the shade, on a straight and fairly flat bike trail going north — an otherwise pleasant route when you’re not fighting the cold, headwinds and a runny nose.
There were very few other riders to venture out that day. It was a fight between me and the machine: I tried to push myself as hard as I could. My main enemy, that day and in my subsequent rides on the bike trail: squirrels. When I first visited New York in 1990, I remember taking many pictures of those little creatures in Central Park. We don’t have them in France and I didn’t know, back then, how lucky we are. The squirrels typically waited the last minute to jump away from my wheels or, in several instances, into my wheels. They’re very fast, very nervous and prone to make very wrong decisions. I had two near-misses in three rides.
At the end of the trail, I took a bike route, shared with cars, that took me along the beaches in east Wellfleet. The sun warmed my back. My muscles slowly warmed up too.
On Oct. 8, I met my husband, fishing south of Chatham. The weather conditions were better than the previous day, with temperatures in the mid 60s (18 degrees Celsius) and no wind. I took the bike trail south, down to Harwich, and came across a cranberry field.