Cycling week 28
I counted up how many times I did the fingers this week – it was twice, which is about average. My goal is to get it down to once a week at most.
My bike was still at the mechanic, not ready. I wondered about ringing the mechanic and telling them, 'Please . . . my blog, it's dying.'
Near the end of the day they said my bike was ready, but by then I was too tired to go and collect it.
I thought of my bike waiting among all the other bikes, all stood up on their rear wheels in the racks, for another night. I don’t feel sentimental about my bike – there’s sometimes a temptation to think of your bike as an extension or expression of yourself – and the truth is, I’d swap it out in a flash for a better one. But I do miss it. Walking is a slow business.
I am ill! I cannot ride.
I've been thinking about *energy* lately. Why sometimes we’re soaring, other times we’re dragging ourselves through the weeds. I’m lucky that most of the time, I have enough energy to get to wherever I need to go, on my own steam. But my mood really affects my energy, and vice versa. Mood and energy feel as hopelessly intertwined as the chain and the sprocket, the crank and the spindle, my lack of mechanical knowledge and my avoidance of bicycle maintenance courses. I wish there was a surefire way to get the balance right – that we could be guaranteed to soar when we needed to.
There are different kinds of energy of course. Cycling energy replenishes itself much more quickly, for me, than social energy or working energy or even gardening energy.
What I'm saying is that I didn't have enough of any of the energies to ride today, and my bike languished once more.
Bike collection day. I went into the shop excitedly. The person unracked my bike, peered at the little receipt stuck to the handlebars, and said, 'That's $272.'
Fearing confrontation, I said ‘Great!’ and paid it, one eye twitching.
I guess they did some other stuff besides the brake pads. And I have to admit, the bike felt good. As I rode back to work in an insistent northerly – automatically doing the fingers at a driver who passed too close and fast on Salamanca – I felt returned to myself.
When I'm on my bike and things are going well, I feel like I become a different person, a more energised and optimistic person, a person who is part of the world rather than apart from it.
But when things go badly on the bike, when I feel unsafe or belittled or exhausted, I lose that sense of being a part of things. I become this bleak person, maybe my truer person, who is untethered and who I would prefer no one else sees.
After work I zoomed into town, then trudged home with groceries in the dark. As I proceeded to die my way up Mt Pleasant, a guy on a racing bike floated past in a gleaming white t-shirt, like a stingray. His speed was beautiful, impossible. I almost screamed at his disappearing form, ‘How are you going so fast? How? How?’
The first morning ride all week, into blustery wind, up old menace Raroa. I was expecting to be energised, ready – but in the rush of cars I was immediately furious and jagged. I felt like I was all teeth.
A relief to get to the top. Saw a man in a suit on a long ebike, eyes wide open, his tie sailing back in the wind, small children in a cargo box at the front.
Cycled into town at lunchtime. My brakes were strong on the downhills. The ride back up the Terrace into a northerly was sheer slog. Impractical pants again – I need a solution.
Rode home a bit later than usual, after the gym. The roads were quiet now, and as a treat I left my headphones on and listened to music. Now, headphones while cycling – I know it's bad behaviour. But it's also a joy. I was listening to 'Total Depravity' by the Veils.
There is a section of Highbury Rd that is the perfect gradient – it's uphill of course but not overly steep, and the feeling of riding it is of 'making good progress'.
A glittery morning. I was tired so I took the easier way – walking to the top of the hill, then cruising down into Kelburn, rather than going up Raroa. Usually when I walk to the top of the hill Jerry comes along for an outing, which slows me down as it's like walking with a very elderly man who loves to look at plants, but today he was bundled up on the couch recovering from an abscess.
Roads clogged with close-passers.
At the end of a frazzling day I rode home after the gym. Usually the roads are quieter when I'm riding later, and the lovely thing about this is you can take your time without fear of holding anyone up. But this time it was still busy. As I was signalling to take the lane, about to turn right through an intersection, a driver squeezed up beside me and cut me off to turn left. Once again I couldn't help myself (or could I have? I probably could have) and did the fingers. I know this isn't very good, and I need to think more about self-preservation than vengeance.
A great thing happened today which is that I received Gorey's book The Epileptic Bicycle in the mail, from someone who reads this blog. Of all blogs – this one! I was so moved by the kind gesture and – once again – I vowed to try to make this blog more cycling, less complaining. Thank you, Margaret, for the gift. The book is excellent. My favourite character is the bird that sits in a tree and warns, 'Beware of this and that.'
Heavy rain is forecast for all of next week.