Do you hear the sound of that big diesel dump truck coming up the road? That can only mean one thing: it’s the start of biking season!

In Maine, it’s summer when you see out-of-state plates, it’s going to snow when you see pickups with plows, and it’s time to get on your bicycle and hit the narrow, bike-hostile, two-lane main streets that go through our towns when you see the dump trucks are out and about.

There is some biking avoidance on my part as there is a lot more to do during daylight hours than pedal a bike while steeling yourself for the next uphill climb. But once I’m on the bike, especially when going downhill with my free travel pass from gravity, all that resistance to exercise melts away. The wind rushes, I stop pedaling, catch my breath and enjoy a swift, silent ride until I see that dump truck in my rear-view mirror.

Aside from those oversized, gravel- and momentum- jammed juggernauts, one of my avoidance issues was the bike itself. It was not being a team player offering me a smooth conveyance — a perfect interface between rider and road. For one, the gear shifters were distracted by some internal partisan conflict and they stopped responding consistently to my commands. I would see a hill coming up and move to gear down but nothing was happening on the mechanical end so I would take to coaxing the chain over to the next gear by nudging it with my foot.

Sure, this is fine if you’re on a motorcycle, but on a bike you actually use your feet to move forward. When you have to take one of them off of a pedal to wheedle the chain, it throws the entire political system of the bike into chaos; the house won’t talk to the senate and, if conditions are just right, the administrative branch will guide you right (or left, depending on party ideologies) into the path of a dump truck.

Here we are in the middle of pandemic pandemonium and, to maintain sanity, I need my bike fixed. I called this place called Maine Sport Outfitters (every state has one of these but it’s usually called something different). This is where I brought my bike in three years ago for a once-over and the bike doctor there told me “everything that moves on the bike is worn out.” That was unfortunate. This time I would be lucky if they were open.

The recording said they were closed but then a guy named Colin answered. Colin said yes, they could still service my bike. Then, he outlined a procedure that looked like a drug deal — a TV drug deal, as I would not have indictable knowledge about anything like that. He told me to leave my cycle at a certain bike rack and drive away. They would get back to me. This not being New Jersey where the bike would just disappear, I followed instructions.

A few days later I received a call. The bike was ready. Funds were electronically transferred and I was told to rendezvous at a back door, where a svelte woman whose face was hidden by a mask promptly appeared with the bike and quickly dissolved back into the building without so much as breathing on me.

It’s amazing what can be done without ever meeting face to face. The bike is fantastic. It responds to my every command without the slightest objection. Whoever worked on the bike certainly knew what they were doing. They even adjusted the brakes and didn’t tell me. I didn’t quite go over the handlebars, so all is good.

Understanding the benefits of biking brings me to the club I founded, “Old Men on Bikes.” OMOB is a tightly knit organization of perfect strangers who hardly ever see each other. We could be called the Pandemic Biking Club, as it suits our present predicament perfectly. All our members bike solo, we never hold rallies, there are no fees, no membership list or requirements, no roll call, and we never hold meetings. It’s a perfect socially distant exercise club.

It’s been more than two months with the stay-at-home order. Don’t let those leg muscles atrophy waiting for shoulder-to-shoulder all-night raves to come back. May has been National Bike Month since 1956, so join the club now, get on your bike and ride.

Just watch your back; there are dump trucks on the prowl.