Cycling week 44
Well well. If it isn't another week of riding a bike around.
A brisk grey day with aching legs. Daylight saving has begun, and what a terrible idea that was. Rode to work, sleepy, running late, with my usual groaning pannier. A kid was dressed as a tree while waiting for the bus, his mother bending down to fuss with his leaves. A man was walking towards the vet holding a cage with a ginger cat in it. He reminded me of my dad – something about the stiff-legged carrying, the bend in the arm, the grasp of the hand on the handle of the cage.
I rode into town at lunchtime – I’d had a pants sizing mishap and needed to exchange the pants. While I was waiting at a red light, a man wheeling his bike over the road turned to look at me. ‘Hey,’ he shouted. My blood jumped. Then he said: ‘You look really fit! Really fit. You have a good day, young lady.’ Now, this guy was crazy, and maybe he was only joking, but what cyclist doesn’t want to be told that they look fit? My ego ballooned briefly but grotesquely. I told him to have a good day too.
I’m lucky as a cyclist that generally I haven’t had a lot of people yelling stuff at me, so I don’t often feel fearful that it will happen – but it was interesting how quickly I was on the alert for trouble. I did have people saying stuff when I was younger, and a lot of the comments, hilariously, took issue with my ass. The most memorable one was a woman leaning out of her window to shout ‘Fat-assed bitch’ as she passed. In a post around that time I wrote:
‘You are particularly vulnerable to ass-related verbal abuse when on a bike, not only because your ass is taking up space on the road, but because the ass is at the root of the cycling problem, the original sin – it drives everything; it’s the engine of your forward momentum, it’s always at the heart of the journey. Without it, you wouldn't be on a bike, you wouldn’t be on the road, and this would be preferable to the people who shout things from their car windows. The fewer asses visible on roads, the more room for cars, inside which people’s asses are discreetly tucked away, almost as if they weren’t there, almost as if a person in a car exists in a fugue-like, assless state, taking up no room at all. The ideal ass, the most ergonomic and conveniently formed ass, is the unseen ass.’
The unseen ass! I find I still agree with all this. (But in that same post I also voice a bizarre theory that the reason people get annoyed with recumbent bikes is that they can’t see the ass of the rider, so they get confused about where to direct their rage. I’m not so sure about that now. I think this was a time of my life when I felt the need to have theories about things.)
Slogged back up the Terrace into strong headwind. A BMW the size and colour of a whale shark shot past inches away.
Rode home in drenching rain. Feet wet, legs wet, ass wet.
Rode to work in drenching rain. Cyclists are in ‘take a whole change of clothes with you’ territory this week. Had to stop for milk, and dreaded the fruitless tunnelling in my gigantic pannier for my wallet, but miraculously found it on the first swipe through. I realise I should probably be taking two panniers rather than one, to make all of my baggage easier to manage, but I don’t know. Two panniers? It’s all too much to think about. It would be like having two heads.
Rode into town early afternoon to get my mullet trimmed, then took the long way back – a surprisingly enjoyable slog up the Terrace going south from Parliament. I managed to time this well, in a weather window. The fresh air felt good and wholesome in my lungs and the ride gave me a surge of energy for the rest of the afternoon.
Rode home in cold feathery rain – dampening rather than soaking – and again this was a pretty good ride. Stopped for armfuls of cat food. Pannier heaving once again. Kept up a fast clip all the way home.
Rain. Tiredness. Raroa Road. Daylight savings is still a source of suffering to me.
Saw some good dogs on this ride, including some with matching puffer jackets on, and a woman picking up a little dog to put it in the back seat of her car. I’ve always been really struck by the image of a person gently picking up an animal to put it in a car or on a couch or bed. My mother would pick up our dog – a minature dachshund – to put her on the bed when she got too old to jump, and we would pick her up to transport her up and down stairs.
After work I couldn’t face another rainy ride, so left my bike at work. This is always interesting: the line between ‘yes I will ride’ and ‘I can’t do it’. I often find that this line is endlessly negotiable and whim-driven – even when you think the decision is final, there’s nearly always room to turn things around and take the other route. If only I could take this wisdom over into other parts of my life, like writing. ‘Yes I will do it today’ versus ‘I can’t, I can’t, I will die if I do it.’
No notes on this day’s rides, really, because my head was so full of work on both of them: I rode into town at lunchtime then rode home at the end of the day, making lists and writing emails and having important conversations in my head in which I articulated myself perfectly.
Sometimes everything becomes clear on the bike – almost like it does when you’re on a long flight, in a blissfully unreachable bubble – and then once your feet are back on the ground the world rushes in and sucks you back out, and you realise that the clarity was a fantasy.
Managed tiny, limpy run in the morning. Then today was a three-ride day. The morning ride in a watery sun, a lunchtime errands ride, then the post-Friday-beer ride, which was a delight – quiet and cool, cherry blossom glowing, and it was still lightish (daylight saving suddenly a good idea).
Lately I’ve been neglecting my foam-rolling and ‘Claw’-ing (as detailed in the Thursday entry of the below post:)
So I’ve renewed my efforts to use the foam-roller and the Claw every day in an effort to speed up my Bad Leg’s long and tedious recovery. It is such a time-consuming business to writhe around on the floor in various degrees of discomfort, and I don’t even know for sure if it’s truly helping, but my leg feels much better after I do it. In the end, with legs, all you have to go by is feeling.
Hopefully next week’s post will be more interesting.
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