I overhear our friend talking to Felkerino about his upcoming bike trip, a multi-day self-guided tour in Europe.
“Mancation,” he tells Felkerino. I turn my head at that.
“Just me and my bike,” he adds.
Surprised, I say, “Wait, you’re going by yourself?”
“Good job, Mary. You got it on the first try.”
If he only knew, I think. Until his clarification, I had imagined our friend pedaling and guffawing with his manly cycling bros, no women allowed, having the mancation of his life.
This was different. This was like nothing I would ever plan, and not just because of the “man” in mancation.
“But who will you talk to about your ride? How long will it take for you to become lonely? I would get lonely.” This whole mancation thing was causing some conceptual distress.
Loneliness did not appear to worry our friend. He expressed more concern about how much his off-the-bike clothes weighed. The plan to be a solitary cowboy on two wheels delighted him.
In a strange coincidence, the following day one of my colleagues and cycling friends who is leaving on his own solo bike trip this week (mancation, if you will) stopped by to discuss the differences in our approaches to bike touring.
“Mary, I cannot wait to go and spend a few days on the road by myself. You, however, have a different view of bicycling. I can see that in your blog posts. You like your bicycling to be social. It’s not something you frequently do alone.”
I agreed. A mancation (womancation?) does not hold much appeal. The occasional solo century? That can be fun. Generally, though, I prefer to share the miles and memories. That’s one of many reasons I like tandem bike touring with Felkerino.
I don’t care much for group tours, but day after day of riding in my own company and no one else’s is not something I would seek out.
I imagine a multi-day solo bike tour morphing into a forlorn adventure where I sadly contemplate my insignificance. I prefer to do that kind of contemplation in the kitchen while I cook dinner.
In addition, there is also a small fear I have for my own safety as a solo woman on the road. I have been conditioned to think about this in a way I suspect may be different from men.
However, even with safety as a consideration, I do not crave a mancation. I want to hang out, see the sights with my partner, share meals and coffee, and chat along the way.
Obviously, not everybody feels that way. For others, solo bike touring may be a welcome break from social interactions and I’m not sure what else. Perhaps it allows one to relax in the comfort of his or her own company as they become one with the bike. Mancation, all I ever wanted…