Spokes(Wo)Man

Scared of traffic ? No bike infrastructure ? Too Far ? Helmet hair ?

 

Fuck it, ride anyway

View from the saddle

You know, I've ridden in to work and home again every day this year, heh heh heh.

But it's been lovely. Dog knows I do not want to get up at 6.30am, but I do. And I faff around feeding birds and taking far too long to dress myself; and it doesn't matter. I head out at 7.15 or 7.30am and the roads are still pretty clear, drivers are much more considerate when they don't feel they're fighting for their lane space, and the whole traffic thing flows beautifully.

I've caught up with the progress of some of the more interesting building works along my route, marvelled at the dramatic difference a month makes to various gardens and hit some massive potholes worsened no doubt at all by the aforementioned building works. 

I hope these development companies plundering the leafy north shore are required to restore the road surfaces, because some of these potholes you could lose a small dog in; never mind what they're doing to my bike tyres. Road repairs are usually paid for by our local homeowner rates; or as the more regressive amongst us still insist, our ROAD TAXES WHICH BLOODY BICYCLISTS DO NOT PAY.

There is a tree or shrub in bloom at present; I have no idea what it looks like but it smells like a fresh lemon myrtle, and in the mornings with the remnants of the overnight rain on them they're light and fresh and invigorating. On the way home, after a day of sunshine on them it's a heavier scent, but still fresh and zingy. There are two places they seem to proliferate, and as I ride through this tunnel of glorious zestiness, I suddenly remember riding in this same spot this time last year, and wallowing in the scent then also. This sudden flash of olfactory triggered memory, this scent-sation always brings to mind a favourite passage from Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency;

I’ve seen an awful lot, you know. Forgotten most of it, thank God.
Trouble is, when you start getting to my age, which, as I think I mentioned earlier, is a somewhat startling one - did I say that?’

’Yes, you did mention it.’

’Good. I’d forgotten whether I had or not. The thing is that your memory doesn’t actually get any bigger, and a lot of stuff just falls out. So you see, the major difference between someone of my age and someone of yours is not how much I know, but how much I’ve forgotten.

And after a while you even forget what it is you’ve forgotten, and after that you even forget that there was something to remember. Then you tend to forget, er, what it was you were talking about.’
He stared helplessly at the teapot.

’Things you remember…’ prompted Richard gently.

’Smells and earrings.’

’I beg your pardon?’

’Those are things that linger for some reason,’ said Reg, shaking his head in a puzzled way. He sat down suddenly. ‘The earrings that Queen Victoria wore on her Silver Jubilee. Quite startling objects.
Toned down in the pictures of the period, of course. The smell of the streets before there were cars in them. Hard to say which was worse.
That’s why Cleopatra remains so vividly in the memory, of course. A quite devastating combination of earrings and smell. I think that will probably be the last thing that remains when all else has finally fled.
I shall sit alone in a darkened room, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything but a little grey old head, and in that little grey old head a peculiar vision of hideous blue and gold dangling things flashing in the light, and the smell of sweat, catfood and death. I wonder what I shall make of it…
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I round the corner and see more walkers, more people at yoga in the park and more people out with their dogs. around the same corner the following day I am instantly confronted by an escaped leopard, or as I draw closer, a playful spotted Great Dane standing akimbo in the middle of the road. Thank god it was just me, because a car would have clattered her.

Her back is to me as I round the corner and I veer as far right as I can to avoid hitting her; I try and slow and make some noise so she is not so startled she attacks me, because quite frankly this dog is as big as me on my bike, and she'd have me off in a heartbeat, quite possibly my last heartbeat as I die of fright.

She jumps sideways, startled despite my efforts and my heart leaps along with her, but the moment passes and her owner scolds her for running out of the park. We exchange grins and I keep on my journey.

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Everything is just that bit harder, that bit more of an effort this week and lazy muscles remember what it is I need them to do, but it does feel so very good to be back on the bike.

The city CBD is an absolute schemozzle; multiple road closures to construct the light rail, and revamp of the second busiest train station means that pedestrians are herded into narrow channels to cross busy streets driven down by confused and harried motorists, and as is the way, when everyone is trying to navigate these constant changes as best they can, a petulant, wobble-lipped woman has a dummy-spit at me for trying to get through the wandering crowd on my bike at a cracking 2km/h. The roads leading to my workplace are closed off, but still this stubborn and not terribly bright woman insists I "should be on the road" and "I'm a cyclist too you know". I look scornfully down at her stumpy legs and think "Not with these cankles you're not love" and tell her to shut up as I ride safely and considerately up the shared path. Even this tremulous sheeple can't bother me today.