Cycling week 14
There was some soul-searching, there was some close-passing.
A no-ride day. The long weekend involved minimal cycling. Remember when, a few weeks ago, I mentioned doing a duathlon? Please. Let us forget everything.
A four-ride day. First, early, to the gym. I love an earlier ride, when the air is fresh and roads are quieter, but the problem is that you have to get up early to enjoy it. When swooshing along Raroa Cres towards Kelburn I saw that there are freshly painted sharrow markings on the road – these show two little chevron hats hovering over a bicycle. I was nerdishly excited to see these. Both ways, that road is narrow and windy, and drivers seem to lose their minds going along it. I try to go as fast as possible along there so as not to enrage anyone. But the sharrows encourage cyclists to take the lane and drivers to hang back until it’s safe to pass. I don’t know whether the markings make much difference to drivers’ behaviour, but still, it’s good to see an acknowledgement that, from a cyclist’s perspective, this is a gnarly road.
Road home after my class, to try to write. I like these middle-of-the-day Tuesday rides. With less traffic, I feel freer to go slowly. And then two more rides: one fast one into town; one very slow one to get home. All up, because all of these were outside of rush hour, this was a pretty good riding day.
A two-ride day. A blustery wind has arrived, and both rides were hounded by close-passing cars. Lately, riding home during rush hour has been a trial. I find myself feeling sort of crazy, as if all of the things I’ve been holding back during the day come flooding out. Cycling is strange in this way. It opens you up, whether you want it or not. And I find myself wondering what the hell I’m doing in life. Which is sort of ridiculous: who wants to wonder what they are doing in life when they’re just trying to get home? Maybe this is why most people drive.
Then I get off the bike and come to my senses. Or I lose them. I can’t tell which one is the right one.
I remember reading this really interesting thread on twitter a while ago by the brilliant author Sandra Newman. I can’t find it now – Sandra has deleted her twitter account which is a big loss, I feel – and I’m going to garble this summary, but she was writing about the personal essay and how it tends to privilege the moment of writing as the one of clarity, or of realisation, or of knowing. But who’s to say that we’re right at this moment of writing, and that we didn’t also see things clearly before? Sometimes writing about the past can be a way of tidying experience away, erasing messier and more complicated things that were also true for us before, when we simply felt differently from now. Newman’s beautiful essay about ghosts gets at some of these ideas.
Anyway, I was thinking about all of this because I thought, maybe when I am on my bike and feeling crazy, there’s a truth in my craziness. Or my craziness is trying to tell me something that is true.
Another two-ride day, and while the ride into work was fine enough, the ride home was again sort of rubbish. Passed really close by a car on Glasgow, revved at by a car on Raroa Cres (the sharrows only go one way, so there’s still kind of an expectation that cyclists will somehow get out of the way when heading towards Karori), nearly taken out by a bus on Highbury (admittedly, it’s a bad road for buses). I can’t be bothered with dickheads at the moment.
I sometimes worry that cycling is hastening my evolution into a really grumpy old lady (and this blog's evolution into a series of gripes). But what can be done?
Guilt about not having been out for a proper Big Ride this week, or last week, but this was a four-ride day: a harried ride into work, running late due to a contact lens malfunction, and during the day a ride into town to the physio. On the way back to work, inching up the Terrace in the heat, a little red car shot past me so close that I felt dizzy. I gave up on the road and went on the footpath. The Terrace is one of my Worst Roads. On Salamanca Rd I caught up with the little red car and thought about giving the driver the evil eye, but giving the evil eye takes a lot of energy, so I decided to save it up for when I really need it.