Conversation, learning something without direct experience of it, is the original Google search.
Instead of typing, you talk. Instead of reaching a distant server, you seek to understand another human being—one right in front of you. You might learn something new; you might be reminded of what we all have in common. You might be diverted.
(Not diverted in the sense of digital task switching and shrinking attention spans—this is is the third paragraph of this essay; congratulations for hanging in there—but diverted from the expectations of the day.)
Take a recent visit to Georgetown, Kentucky. Wes and Laurie traveled from New York for two days of pedaling over rolling hills past horse farms staked out by dark fences and stone walls. And trees—right by the side of the road. Miles and miles of trees, a remarkable change from miles and miles of mechanized Illinois corn that throws no shade.
I spotted the Boston t-shirt in Galvin’s on Main Street. Wes talked up the Hub on Wheels Ride around Boston, and the couple invited us to skip the wait for a table and sit with them.
We did. And we learned other things.
- There’s a ride through New York’s Finger Lakes region called the Highlander that features up to 10,000 feet of climbing. Wes claims to enjoy this.
- The Tour de l’Île is a great way to get to know Montreal, Canada. Laurie recommends L’Appartement Hotel as a good place to stay downtown.
- The Erie Canalway Trail has some gaps, but it’s a remarkable trail to pedal from Buffalo, New York, to Albany,
- One of the better times to beat the crowds on Martha’s Vineyard is late September. Stay in Woods Hole and take the ferry over.
So, next bicycle ride, ride. Of course. But add an extra conversation to the event. Talk to someone you don’t know. Find out what’s important to them. It may become important to you.
And it may all start with a t-shirt.