Cycling week 33
There was some cycling, there were as usual some feelings, there was a bad moon photo.
Rode into a greyish, blustery morning. Legs reluctant today, but I tried to go fast up Raroa to get it over with. Shrieked loudly when a little truck then a van overtook too close. I’ve become much more vocal as a cyclist lately. Maybe it’s like cats – as they get older they have more to say, and they feel that what they have to say is more important than ever.
My morning anxiety, which I have most days, has a particular shape. It's prickly and it moves in a chaotic zig-zagging fashion, like a man with a new leafblower. But sometimes the anxiety piggy-backs on morning dread, where it becomes slower-moving, even sluggish. As I cycle along, sometimes it helps if I can pinpoint the reason for the anxiety, but sometimes figuring out the reason only makes me dwell further on the thing itself. I think today's reason was simply that I seem to be flapping around uselessly in the wind, but the wind is made of emails and perceived failures and impossible decisions. Still, this is the Monday morning condition.
Couldn't face the ride home today so left my bike at work.
From the window of the gym this morning, I could see two cyclists all the way down on MacDonald Cres, slogging uphill side by side.
In the afternoon I rode into town for a haircut. This was one of those rides where you have to run a gauntlet of car doors being flung open mindlessly. At a red light I was sitting behind a car that was playing pounding bass. Cars that play loud music are very embarrassing to me. All of a sudden, when you're just trying to get somewhere, you're forced to go to someone else's party.
Rode back to work – this was a pretty good ride in pale sunshine, and I felt awake for the first time today. On the Terrace I rode through a potent smell of fried chicken.
Rode home after work on tired legs. I always like the bit where I escape the impatience of Raroa Cres and start the climb up Moana – it's a dark, quiet, steep road, but peaceful.
I've been watching lots of Tour de France over the last few days and marvelling at how smoothly, how powerfully the riders go up mountain slopes and how they reach speeds of over 100km/h as they go downhill. But I have also been marvelling at how boring a lot of the Tour actually is. I am ashamed to say I am always hoping there will be a crash to liven things up.
Pushed to the top of the hill, Jerry trailing behind for a morning walk. A low wintry sun on this ride. Lately, there's been much less wind than usual. It's almost eerie, but it's good for cycling.
Had to ride into town for physio appointment in the morning. It was nice to flee the office and rush out into the streets, and this is something I've always loved about a bike – how quickly it propels you out into the world. Afterwards, a slow and uncharacteristically bearable ride back up the Terrace.
Rode down the hill again after work for a beer. On the way, a courier van almost veered into me as it was turning right. I yelled and did my usual gesture of incredulity. There's an odd thing I sometimes notice, where drivers have definitely seen you right there –you've looked into each other's eyes! – and even though you have right of way, the driver ploughs ahead as if they haven't seen any goddamn thing. It's like they think you're a plastic bag or a pile of leaves or some sparrows that will get out of the way.
The ride home – it was a calm, dark night and I churned up the hill.
Rode to work. An icy-feeling day. Went through a cloud of weed. On a Thursday morning! Actually, fair enough.
At lunchtime I had to ride into town before heading home to work for the rest of the day. This ride was exhausting, one of those neverending rides where you run out of steam about a quarter of the way through and the headwind grows chillier and more persistent until it seems to be trying to pull your skin off your face. As I was going up the steep bit of Raroa, a wave of deep melancholy overcame me (I later discovered I was just hungry).
Waved at the poet Bill Nelson while zooming past. I encounter Bill often on my morning rides. Bill has just written a verse novel about – among other things – a man recovering from a terrible head injury after a cycling accident. I recommend it, and I don't recommend verse novels lightly. Later this morning, I saw that Bill had tweeted that both brakes on his cargo e-bike, with his three-year-old on the back, had failed at the top of a steep hill. To stop the bike from careening into an oncoming bus he'd had to use his feet like Fred Flintstone.
Full disclosure: despite this terrifying story of Bill's, I am more and more thinking about saving up for an ebike. Not anytime soon, but ... at some point. If nothing else, I would get a lot of mileage out of it right here on this blog – there would be at least three instalments about my deep gnawing shame, then a few more about the path towards acceptance, then a few more about my unbridled joy at doing big grocery trips, probably followed by a few more in which I proselytise grandly. Before long I would scoff at my former way of life, my mindless expenditure of energy, my stubborn slogging with gritted teeth, my overblown sense of pride at being one of the few non-e-bike bikes in a hilly area. I figure I could get around a year's worth of awful content out of all this.
After work I rode into town for necessary beer, then had the most excellent ride home – slow but steady, low perceived effort, hoots and hollers around the neighbourhood, and then a sort of half-pie but very bright moon.