Cycling week 43
Old dogs were walked, good pants remained an impossible dream, and a guy attempted to draught me.
My notes on this week’s rides are scratchy, and I’ve been procrastinating on writing them up. In non-cycling news, today I managed to run longer than 30 minutes for the first time in a long time – wheezing along muddy Transient, with the Bad Leg complaining only a bit. It’s been a one-step-forward-two-steps-back deal with this crazy leg, since slipping a disc around March, but – to run! What a delight. And in the mud, no less, like a happy hog.
The wind was blasting again but the sun was out and I sped to work, pannier dangerously overstuffed, head also full of the usual Monday baggage.
Passed a slow e-bike, which I always worry is somehow rude on my part.
Passed a pick-up truck filled with dirt and a sign on its back: ‘Our business is in the shit’.
After work I rode up to the gym then rode home afterwards, leaving my headphones in. I know this sort of behaviour is frowned upon but it’s too enjoyable not to do it every so often outside of rush hour. (Listened to ‘Oh Joy’ by Todd Terje – cartoonish, satisfying, probably good to play if being chased – and ‘Track 10’ by Christine and the Queens, and I forget what else.) Got a second wind and tried to sprint up Highbury Rd. I can hold a decent uphill effort for as long as my heart and lungs don’t figure out what’s going on. Managed to get away with it for about 30 seconds, zipping upwards and keeping my breath steady as if everything was fine, then the jig was up and I had to revert to a slow, gaspy trudge.
It was getting dark, but in that still lightish September way, and the road was quiet.
Pushed my bike to the top of the hill. Three massive kererū, like bowling balls, were sitting in the magnolia at the top, burbling.
The morning ride. I passed a woman who was waving a stick wordlessly at someone across the road. Her eyes looked unhappy. Beside her, the small drama of people getting on the bus and other people getting off.
A very old-looking dog was being walked, a few steps at a time.
On the ride home I saw an altercation between a courier driver and bus on Highbury Rd, the bus honking in panic while the courier driver tried to get far enough onto the footpath to let the bus through. The bus driver was waving one arm. Finally the courier sorted himself out and the bus roared down in full happy flight at last, like a huge goose that had been freed.
A milky pink and blue sky.
My legs were sore today. I’ve been doing lots more yoga recently, in an effort to get more strength and balance back into the Bad Leg, or more specifically the foot. When I stand on the foot by itself it still wobbles around frantically, like it’s feeling around trying to figure out where the hell it is, but I feel like it’s figuring things out.
Jerry came for a walk up the hill and watched as I pedalled away. After that, the morning ride was stressful. The wind was doing the spinning wheel of death – endless buffering. A dead bird was on the road – a tūī. I was thinking about a talk I had to give later that day, to a 300-level class. I was so nervous about it that my face felt tingly.
Got a fright from a cyclist zipping past close on my inside, and yelped.
The ride home was also stressful. Wind like riding through pillows. Close passes on Glasgow. Shrieked a couple of times. A lot of shrieking today all up.
There are some days where you realise, all of a sudden, that many of the cars have got properly gigantic. They are so huge they have their own weather. I don’t often indulge in giant-vehicle fear and loathing, because if I let myself go there it’s a long way out. But on my ride home today, the road full of massive roaring, I gave in to it completely, and the loathing coursed sweetly through my veins.
A work-from-home day, but I rode into town at lunchtime. ‘The only thing that limits me is me’, said a passing Mainfreight truck.
A pedestrian scowled as a beeping e-scooter zoomed past him at close range.
A preacher was raving on Willis St, with a woman standing quietly beside him.
The designer Todd Atticus went past on a bus.
‘A big problem is a small problem that was never handled,’ said another Mainfreight truck. (I have to confess, I kind of like these trucks. There’s a poignancy to their motivational quotes – each one a truck’s plaintive cry as it begins to tell its story of woe.)
On Customhouse Quay, keeping up a fair clip in the wind, and running late for an appointment, I looked over my shoulder and saw that a guy had ‘tucked in’ behind me. He was draughting! Profiting off my effort into the head wind! This is pretty rare for me. Usually I’m nowhere near fast enough to be draught-worthy. I felt strange about it, and a little indignant. So I sped up and shook him off.
On my ride home I noticed new cycle-lane paint on Aro and at the bottom of Raroa, and workers carving in a new lane. Naturally, these are exciting developments. I want to believe.
Further up the hill, various defaced election hoardings – chunks hacked out, faces with black eyes sprayed in, some lying face-down on the grass.
Eyes streaming in the wind on my ride to the gym in the morning. I was running late, after a book launch the previous night, but this was a good, bracing ride – except for a breathtakingly close pass on Raroa that sent a bolt of fright through me – and I had more energy than I had a right to have.
Saw an interesting vehicle – a toddler on a little bike that an adult was guiding from the back via a big lever thing. It looked comfortable and efficient.
I’ve been thinking about pants again. The impossible dream of pants that can be cycled in comfortably and that don’t have an aura of trackpant or legging once you’ve reached the destination. At the book launch last night James Brown apologised for turning up in his cycling gear. (‘I thought it was a peloton meet!’) But the joy of going to an event and then being able to get onto your bike immediately afterwards, without having to get changed in a toilet, cannot be underestimated. It goes without saying that I got the bus to the launch.
Buffeting grey wind again on the ride home, and the ride went on and on, on and on.
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