What is a cycling blog that has very little cycling in it? An embarrassment, is what it is. A shame and an embarrassment. Let’s ride.
I did not ride my bike today.
I rode to uni and back, in the sunshine, because I’ve started a fiction writing course. It was a warm day, and I was self-conscious about my streaming sweat in the workshop room in front of my new classmates. Once again: how do we cycle, and how do we live?
I’ve been thinking a lot about a bike I would like to buy one day – a Surly Midnight Special, a road bike that ‘shines on pot-holed, deteriorating pavement and the occasional long stretch of gravel’, according to Surly.
There’s a pale pink/purple one at Bicycle Junction (just like the one in the pic) and it breaks my heart every time I go in and see it. I would need to learn to ride using drop bars, which I’ve tried only a few times before. I’ve panicked every time, because it felt like riding an out of control horse – to the point where, on my current bike, the Surly Disc Trucker, I had the beautiful drop bars swapped for straight ones, to the clear disgust of the bicycle mechanic. But if I got a Surly Midnight Special, I would learn. I would learn!
I came across this event I’d like to do, a duathlon, that involves running 400 metres, road cycling 44km, running 12km, then road cycling another 22km. I don’t know what that 400 metres is doing at the start. But for the cycling, the Midnight Special would be ideal. The thing holding me back (apart from my non-racing-appropriate Surly Disc Trucker and lack of 44km fitness AT THE MOMENT) is, I think I’m scared of the people who do duathlons. I wouldn’t know how to act around them. I worry it would be like encountering the Lord of the Rings fans who would sometimes come into the bookshop Dymocks, where I worked for years – at the height of Jackson’s LOTR business – and I never knew how to speak to them. They knew this other world in crazily intricate and intimate detail, and because you didn’t know or care about it in the same way the two of you could never really connect.
The thing to do when you don’t have much cycling to write about in your cycling blog is, you write about all of your most dubious plans.
Another event I’m eyeing up is a 24km trail run in Nelson in May, but considering I can only do a sort of hobbling run/lollop at the moment, this might not be so realistic.
I rode to work today, after running early in the morning, and I have to say, I got no joy from this ride. Why? I just didn’t. My head was elsewhere. But I did have a nice moment when pushing my bike up the hill (too lazy to ride it) to get to Highbury Cres when a woman, walking her dogs, said, ‘Ooh. Is that a proper bike?’ This distinction people sometimes make between e-bike and ‘proper bike’ brings me only joy. At least, it will until the day inevitably comes that I get an e-bike, and then I will do everything I can never to be seen with it.
I didn’t ride home, because it rained.
I should say here that, for all the times I did not ride my bike this week, I did feel guilty. I always think: I should ride because it’s better for the environment, it’s usually faster than other modes, it gets me out into the elements, it helps me get the measure of a day, it helps me defrag. So there was guilt, but something has changed in me in that I can no longer keep my guilt about these things going for very long. It’s like my guilt fitness has ebbed away over the last while. I used to have an incredible capacity for guilt and I would channel all of best thinking and feeling into it. Maybe in some strange way I felt proud of this capacity. But now it’s not long before I flinch away from guilt – I feel the pain and discomfort of it and then I lose interest in feeling more of it. It’s really nice to be able to decide: I simply will not feel this for any longer.
Anyway, that was a roundabout way of saying I didn’t ride home and ultimately felt fine with that decision.
I did not ride to work today.
I rode home at the end of the day, though, a short hilly ride as usual, and I struggled. Gasping up hills. Wheezing, at one point. My body just had no interest in anything other than sitting on the couch and trying to write a silly story.
You’re not going to believe this, but I did not ride to work today.
But I did ride into town at lunchtime to go to the physio again, to get my bad Achilles seen to, and I told the physio about my running aspirations and duathlon curiosity. He was quiet for a while, which I took as a very bad sign. Then he said, ‘It doesn’t sound impossible. It just depends on how much pain you’re going to be in afterwards.’ Very diplomatic. Well, fine. I probably need to scale back my plans. I told him about cycling to and from the ferry last week, and he said, ‘On an e-bike? Or a proper bike?’
On my way home I nearly ran into a man who was just standing in the middle of the road yelling happily to someone who was sitting in their car. This was amazing to me. Imagine being a man just standing in the middle of road, yelling happily. Waving your arms and sort of swaying back and forth, ignoring everything. It must be both terrible and glorious.
All up, this cycling week wasn’t very outwardly productive, and the only Big Rides in it were the ones I dreamed about doing on a bicycle I don’t own yet. Pedal on!