Cycling week 45
There was less riding than hoped this week. But – as always, it balances out – there was more complaining.
This will be a brief and drafty cycling week. Next week I’m setting off overseas for a work trip, so I’ve been frantically trying to meet deadlines before I put my old Surly to bed for a couple of weeks. God knows what Cycling Week will look like in Germany and London – probably just me being hit by buses repeatedly – but let’s see.
Rode to work through a blustery grey morning. Nearly got hit by a car at the top of Raroa; the driver blasted through the roundabout as I was going through with right of way. I jammed on my brakes and did the Larry David outstretched arms of incredulity. The driver looked directly at me but didn’t seem to see me, then they cruised off. I felt like a tiny fuming ghost as I pressed onwards.
Rode into town at lunchtime. And this was a bad ride. I’d known it would be, but not quite this bad. The air was all big rainy gusts, side-swiping and galumphing. Car-wash weather. At one point I got stuck behind a deranged-looking bubble car that had ‘GET 1 MILLION SOCIAL FOLLOWERS’ emblazoned on it. Hmm. What if . . . I mean, no. No! Unless . . .
Close-passing cars all through town. As I slogged back up the hill the weather got worse. Pants sopping, nerves jangling.
The sun came out for the ride home. A watery but bright post-rain sun, which is the best sun to ride in. I always notice that after an intense work day my legs are tired. Do other people find this? You hear a lot about the gut–brain axis, but maybe there’s also something to be said for the leg–brain axis. Admittedly the brain in my legs is still in its primordial soup phase. But I can feel it! Pulsating, plotting, forming terrible opinions.
At various points I was passed by e-bikes and then, embarrassingly, by a runner. Stopped at the dairy to get necessary beer (which was then shaken up hazardously in pannier).
Confession: A no-ride day. My goal this week is simply to get through, and if a ride is on offer or there is a bus approaching, I am going to take it.
On the ride to work my head was somewhere else, either down in the weeds or up in the clouds, in an acid rain of to-do lists, but then I shared a nice nod with a guy riding an incredible-looking cargo bike with a long wooden box on the front. I’m really liking seeing new cargo bikes around. They look more like fancy furniture, or big dancing clogs, than bikes. This one was big-nosed, elegant, a sort of Adrien Brody cargo bike, or a psychotherapist’s-chaise-lounge cargo bike.
Once at work I realised I’d forgotten my lock. Disaster. I’d wondered why my pannier was so light. The forgotten lock was a problem. I needed the lock because I had a book launch after work. Could I bike home at lunchtime on a busy day and grab it, so that I could bike down to the launch then bike home afterwards? It was all too hard. So I left my bike at work. This turned out to be for the best: After the launch, I had to carry a long cardboard box thing with me, and it would’ve been awkward or impossible on a bike. A cargo bike would’ve had no problem with it of course. Being a weakling, I got an Uber.
Another day of truncated riding goes by.
A good lunchtime ride today. The purpose of this ride was to carry a whole bunch of crap home – gym gear, shoes, lunchbox containers, etc. – that had been festering in the office. I think of this sort of ride as a ‘bike commute maintenance’ ride. This is obviously where the car, as an idea, comes into its own: you can carry everything in one go, eliminating the need for a maintenance ride. But I often get into a situation where I simply have too much stuff, too much for one bike trip. So I have to do a secondary trip. The best way to do this is to make the maintenance ride an event: don’t fight it, don’t grouch about it, don’t half-ass it; whole-ass it. As it turns out, this bike ride was excellent, out in the sun; I felt returned to myself as I went up and down hills. There was also something satisfying about moving stuff from one place to another, as if I was off-loading psychic baggage as well as actual baggage.
I remember when I was moving flats once, in my twenties, I cycled back and forth between Lyall Bay and Newtown six times in one day, determinedly, with two heaving panniers. I’d booked a mover, but I thought I didn’t want to inconvenience them with all of the little things. There is definitely some element of pride and ego (or vanity) involved in these sorts of rides.
A strange thing happened on this ride where I soared between excitement and exhilaration and then stress and dread. Then back again. This emotional trampolining is a thing that sometimes happens on a ride and I’m trying to learn not to worry about it.
At the end of the day: a good, fast ride home. Kākā circling and screaming; a tiny boy holding his palm out defiantly to stop a bus; some boy mountainbikers careening down the hill without lights.
A grey, spitty morning ride up Raroa in a dream. Stress. Too many things. The hours squashed. Too tired even to yell at a little car that passed so close I would’ve touched it if I’d shrugged a little to the right.
Saw a freshly dead blackbird on road, which made me intensely sad for a moment.
A fast ride home at the end of the day, legs griping, grumpy as hell, but relieved to be back on my bike and on my way to the fix-it stand of the weekend.
Well, that was that week of bike rides. Thank you very much for reading. Subscribe for free.