Cycling week 34
It was a week of scrappy notes, free-floating dread, and a 'reset' ride.
The morning ride – wet road, pale grey sky.
The ride home was grey and foggy; as I got higher up the fog thickened and soon my head was in it. I passed a guy on the way and then somehow ended up behind him again on a different bit of the hill. I hovered behind rather than passing again. My default on the bike is to push myself, and it was actually very nice to slow down to a total crawl.
Another darkish morning, so I pulled out the hi-vis for an early ride to the gym. Screamed and waved fist at a little truck that roared past too close on Raroa. The usual sense of futility.
Rode home grouchily in dark.
Spent the morning at home, then zoomed down into town late morning before riding back up to work. Got stuck behind a guy on an electric skateboard. All up, though, this was a good ride – I felt grateful to be out in the sun, going to get a sandwich. I love a ride whose sole purpose is to get a sandwich.
The ride home from work was rainy and dark and I was tired. I was dreading this ride so intensely that I decided to leave my bike there and just get an Uber. But then in the next moment, as if possessed by a biking demon, I was wrestling my hi-vis on and getting on the bike and suddenly I was out in the rain, churning uphill.
There's something about powering through dread that always shocks me – I can't believe I have done it, and am always disproportionately proud of myself about it.
No notes. I pushed through both of these rides with a white-knuckle grip.
I resolved that tomorrow I would do a different sort of ride.
Mānawatia a Matariki!
It was very hard to gear myself up for a ride today. But I knew it was the right thing and that I would feel good for doing it. I approached this as a 'reset' ride. A reset ride is not about going fast or getting it over with, but about steadily plodding, having plenty of stops along the way, and taking big gulps of air. A reset ride is about being outside and getting daylight into your eyeballs.
This particular ride, for me, would also be about trying out some heavily padded bike pants. I have been avoiding these pants (they were included in the haul from Freya, mentioned a couple of weeks ago) because the padding is astronomical, but I was also curious. I got them on, and the padding was so intense I almost started panicking. After calming down, I got on the bike. It was like sitting on a high cushion – that is, it was a revelation, a very comfortable revelation. I set out for old friend the golfball on Hawkins Hill.
The first bit of this ride is always a shock – the churn from Aro and up Durham towards Brooklyn. It feels like every bit of the body is having its own freak-out – the lungs, heart, blood, the legs and arms and stomach. But gradually these bits all sort themselves out and start working together. And once I was on my way up Helen then Apuka I was starting to feel better. The steepness is unrelenting here, but I took it pedal stroke by pedal stroke, and my gripey left leg seemed to be rolling with this plan.
The day was very beautiful – bright blue, windless, low sun. Ice cube weather, where everything looks soft and suspended inside ice at the moment where it starts to melt a little bit. Trees barely moving.
I made it to the turbine – runners, walkers, other cyclists, dogs along the way, one dog being carried – and through the gate to continue along Hawkins Hill Rd. Some walkers were straggling across the road and one of them made a farting noise as I passed, which I can only assume was in response to my giant padded ass.
The wind picked up as I climbed, and as I approached the old Woofington's castle I swear I rode through a potent cloud of wet dog – but the only dogs around were the two creepy old statues that remain just inside the gates.
I always get tricked on this ride – I'll think I'm nearly there, maybe five minutes to go, but then the golfball seems to launch itself across several more hills and land in a completely different place, and I'll have another twenty minutes of climbing to go.
As this ride progressed I felt like I was riding through different layers of feelings – dread, panic, anxiety, calm, sadness, optimism, back to dread. It was weird, and frustrating, as all of these feelings drained my energy more quickly, but the only thing for it was to keep going slowly up the hill and passing through all the layers.
At the top, had a breather and a stretch and looked out across Cook Strait.
The way back down is also a bit deceptive. It isn't all downhill zooming; there's a fair bit of sudden, steep climbing – for these bits, I decided to stand up and fully attack like a bear – before resuming the downhill blast. But once you're back in Brooklyn it's heavy brakes all the way, and I always marvel at how, an hour before, I was climbing and feeling like I'd never get to the top. There's this podcast I listen to irregularly, POOG, with Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak. In a recent one, Kate confesses that before recording that day's episode she'd been sobbing, and she tells Jacqueline: 'It's hard to imagine, an hour ago I was inconsolable and now ... I can imagine getting lunch.' I think a good reset bike ride can have this effect.