I am suffering from a bit of cycling/San Luis Obispo/ bike racing nostalgia at the moment. The Tour of California is on this week, and I have been watching it nightly on TV with a bit of envy/twinges of “wish I was there.” I was, last year. Last year was the first year of the tour, and my fellow cycling-junkie friends and I eagerly followed each stage, boasting that we had ridden on the roads that the pros were careening through. One of the stage stops was in San Luis Obispo, so naturally, we were in full force on the streets as the peloton overtook our sleepy downtown. We watched every stage, got real-life race reports from our buddies who were racing it, and felt slightly famous that such a coterie of world-class riders were gracing the roads that we had ridden.
I had slight (only slight) twangs of missing California last night as I watched the stage from Santa Rosa to Sacramento. The stage passed through Napa, and I recognized roads that I had trained on when I lived there. The pros conquered Trinity Grade as if it were a mere bump. I couldn’t help but notice that the hills are already green and that the cherry blossoms and mustard seed are blooming. It must be a good year for rain back home. Seeing backroads and familiar landmarks is a bittersweet sting--a bit like accidentally stumbling into your ex—you want to know how they are, you want a glimpse into that life, but you know that what you have now is better. I am so glad, relieved, that I am not living in California anymore, but I have many good memories of my life there, and seeing it on the screen again brings a surprising longing.
Perhaps because my life is so completely different than how it was last year at this time, seeing the tour is like a jolt; mostly, I don’t reflect or think much about life in San Luis Obispo, or bike racing, or my wacky guy buddies—wonderful years of my life. I am content and consumed by my day-to-day editing job, my friends here, and the new southern environment that I live in—but seeing images of my home state is almost startling; oh yeah, I think, that used to be my life there. And it was completely different, and I was different, in that environment. For a brief second, the amnesia is pulled back. Maybe, too, because I haven’t been riding my bike anymore, I feel completely disconnected from my San Luis years. Biking has a way of tying everything together, and it reminds you that no matter where you go, cyclists everywhere are the same.
So I have the rest of this week to watch the tour on TV, and to try and glimpse staccato camera shots of my friends in the peloton or lining the streets, and the memories will continue to flood back.