It was a week of … you’re not going to believe this, but it was a week of cycling.
A five-ride day. First, early, in a calm blueish morning. Uneventuful, except that a bunch of sparrows on the road took a long time to move.
Rode home at lunchtime to drop off some stuff but mainly to pat Jerry and stare into space.
I really recommend a lunchtime ride, even a short one, on a sunny day. It can give you a huge second wind for the rest of the day and make you insufferable to all those around you. I used to do biggish lunchtime rides a lot – sometimes round the bays, sometimes even up to Brooklyn then out to the South Coast, and when I was crazy I would even go to the gym and do a goddamn spin class then ride back up the hill. What was I thinking? Why did I like spin so much when the music was so bad? Why did I try to become friends with the spin people? Why did I go their Christmas drinks one year and stay till the end? Still, I enjoyed those lunchtime rides. Time feels a bit too tight for such things these days.
Back to work up Raroa, for extra hills.
Into town. It was my good friend Craig’s birthday and it was important to have whisky. I rode home lateish, slightly boozed, but the night was beautiful and the moon was out. This was a nice ride, though there is an awkward moment when, inching very slowly up Mt Pleasant, I accidentally rode through some branches and leaves that were overhanging the road. I think I startled a lady getting out of her car, who must’ve seen me slowly emerge from the leaves grinning.
A few weeks ago I promised a review of the new bike light set from Germany, gifted by the literary agent Martin Shaw. Well here it is: the TRELOCK LS 600 VECTOR/ LS 740 VECTOR REAR SET has come into its own in the darker mornings and during any night ride. I could take or leave the rear light – I’ve designated it my ‘secondary light’, which is pretty luxurious in itself, to have two rear lights – but the front light is, honest to god, like an exploding sun. I keep it dipped down so as not to blind anyone, but the great thing, the unexpected thing, is that it actually works like a headlight. I can see things on the road in the dark! On every night ride this week, I saw things on the road I don’t usually see – potholes, for one, but also spiders running along, and snails setting out optimistically.
A yellowy morning ride. No wind.
Another night ride home.
Usually a later ride is fairly peaceful, but parts of this one were crazy. Cars blasting past me too close, all the way through Aro. But the moon was still good.
Riding along on a quieter stretch, I was overcome with an almost embarrassing feeling of gratitude for my bike and that, even though it’s always an eternal slog to get back home, I can go on my own time, and I get some fresh air and time to myself. No waiting for buses. No sitting in the chemical stink of an Uber. No walking, like an animal.
Rode to work into a blustery, sideways, haranguing sort of wind.
A mad ride home into the same sort of wind, only it’s as if the wind has got even more incredulous and irrational. It’s like the wind has been sending angry emails all day and is annoyed to have gotten no response. Now it must escalate. Everything seems on edge. A driver starts revving behind me (they must wait five seconds, max).
I had planned to ride into town to meet my partner and see Pavement, but I had to give the tickets away. The last few days, while I’ve been mostly keeping up with things, I’ve gone into a steep mental spiral downwards and am feeling too precarious for crowds, even though deep in myself I know that seeing Stephen Malkmus thrashing around (does he still thrash around? I will never know, now) would probably make me feel better.
I had one of the worst rides today but in retrospect it was also one of the funniest. I had to go into town and on the way back I realised I was absolutely busting to go to the loo. The sort of needing to go to the loo where your entire being becomes Bladder. You are nothing but Bladder; Bladder is all you have ever known in this life and it is all you will ever know. Simultaneously, I had a blood sugar crash. I began sweating the cold liquidy sweat, vision speckling, mouth watering. Only the bladder pressure was keeping me alert. I cycled as fast as possible, distantly aware of my legs shuddering around, and made it back, only just.
Another ride, to a poetry event – the problem of sweat, again; the futility of make-up; the difficulty of being seen – then zoomed down to town afterwards for a dinner. This is all bad timing; I’m not really fit for public, but somehow the bike riding is keeping me steady.
On Cuba St, I had to lock my bike to one of those racks that have decorative woollen sleeves on them. The sleeves are meant to be fun and joyful, part of the guerilla knitting movement, but I find them horrible. Especially the ones that have things dangling off them. Those in particular should be banned. I can’t really explain my aversion. I just don’t want to engage with weird bulbous knitting when I’m locking my bike up.
A very slow ride home at night. The moon was still good. High-pitched purring of crickets. Three night rides this week might be one too many.
Just two low-key rides today. One into town, for a coffee with my friend Andrew, who’s over from Paris. This is a good sort of ride – the going-to-meet-a-friend ride – because when you hop off all you need to do next is sit down and blather. I recommend it. And then I have a wholesome ride home with a loaf of bread in my bag. I could actually BE in Paris. (If it wasn’t for the steep, steep hill with a squashed rat on it, the cicadas blaring, the sweat, and so on).