Five rides

1. The blogger Whale Oil calls cyclists ‘road maggots’. I can’t help but find this quite funny. Sometimes I think about it when I’m riding along. Does this analogy make cars blowflies?

2. On Friday, the day before Anzac Day, I rode past Memorial Park, and sidled my way past some coned-off army tanks – some of the ‘vintage World War I vehicles’  from Peter Jackson’s collection – which were to be used in the Anzac parade later that day. As I waited at the lights, I imagined one of the tanks clanking into life and nonchalantly rolling over me.

3. On my ride home at night recently, I’d stopped at a red light when four young guys came straggling across the road, all loose arms and rubbery lips, with beer cans in their hands. I thought, here we go. I looked straight ahead. I believe I looked mildly threatening.

‘HEY!’ one of the guys said. I looked at him and he said, ‘You wanna ride a different bike?’ He gestured at his crotch in case I hadn’t got it.

I told him that yes, I would like to ride a mountain bike. He ignored this, and one of the other guys shouted at me, ‘He wants to take you for a ride.’

I said loudly that I wanted a bike with disc brakes.

The first guy made a sort of confused screeching noise. Then the other guys shouted some stuff and then they straggled off, like a many-armed resurrection plant scuttling across the desert. I hope they had a nice night.

4. When I’m biking into a strong headwind, a silent space opens out in front of me. It’s a small bubble that moves with me, perched between my legs and face. I breathe into it as I would into an oxygen mask. Outside of the bubble, the wind is roaring in my ears, and no matter how many times I’ve cycled through a strong headwind, the ride is always frightening, like spadefuls of air are falling onto me, burying me and my bike. Sometimes they hit me sideways, so I swerve, or they hit me from the back so that I go surging forwards. But it feels like as long as I keep this silent bubble balanced on my lap, I’ll be alright. Like a viewfinder, it puts the world at a distance. Even as I heft my bike up onto my shoulder to walk down the steps to the flat, and wind is still squalling around and the white tail of Jerry is flagging my way, the bubble of silence seems to bob along with me.

5. Last night I dreamed that I was cycling up the hill home when I saw my boss cycling down on the other side of the road. The first thing I noticed was that he wasn’t wearing a helmet, and his hair was streaming out behind him. He was spinning the pedals furiously and he had an anxious look on his face. In the dream I thought to myself, ‘He’s making a getaway! What’s he running from?!’ Later I discovered that he was involved in some kind of illegal whaling operation, and the police had arrived and he’d been fleeing the scene.


Unknown photographer for the Daily Herald, via

c. 1940s, unknown photographer for the Daily Herald, via

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
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