Cycling week

It was a week of less cycling than usual, but to make up for it – get ready – there was more complaining.


This day had four small rides in it, into a sharp but sunny breeze.

On the way to work I saw a tiny ball of wool on the side of the road that turned out to be a tiny mouse sitting in the grass. Also saw a bunch of worms out on the wet road, presumably having a good time in their last moments of life.


Rode to work, wincing into a cold gale.

INJURY TALK: I have suddenly developed sciatica in one ass cheek, leg and foot, and so riding my bike is a bad time for that leg. It drags along like someone being forced to go to a party.

When it comes to pain from injury, I simply turn to dust. I mope around. I weep. All hope is gone. I turn into the character in that Lorrie Moore story, who ‘shuffles through the hall like a legume with feet.’

After work I thought about riding into town to a poetry reading I was doing, but then thought about the necessity of riding home afterwards, in icy, shattering rain, with my leg twitching like a sleeping dog – and left my bike at work.

The poetry reading, though – a great time. I don’t think any of my poems had bike riding in them, so I will not mention them here. But one poem about cycling that I think about often is the great ‘Emu’ by James Brown. (Note that below the poem, he comments: ‘There’s something about the intensity, suffering, and pointlessness of biking up a hill that I find similar to writing poetry.’) Here’s a link, via the Wayback Machine, to an old post about a bike ride with James.


What is the point at which rideable weather becomes unrideable? I always like to think that my point is a bit further along than other people’s points, and so, sometimes, out of pride, I make bad decisions. Tonight, after a book launch, the southerly was roaring obnoxiously, taking no notice of anyone who might be trying to get by. Keeping my bike anchored at the red lights took all my strength. At one point, standing with both feet firmly planted, I lost control of the back wheel and the whole operation went sideways; I imagined people shaking their heads inside their cosy cars. Sky like a pulsing jellyfish. No other cyclists out. Saw some poor roadworkers drilling into a pole, orange sparks flying. For once, I was grateful to get onto Raroa, tunnelling slowly – very slowly – away from the howl. What a joy to get home and get warm and get a hot water bottle onto my ass. Still, I felt guilty for not going out with the poets to do karaoke.


Riding a bike – unimaginable.


A beautiful morning to ride – that ominous dark greyness had blown away, and we were back to a brittle blue.

But most of this ride was a trial, a grinding chore. Left leg still refusing to pull its weight, grumbling and aching the whole way.

Listened to an interview with a cyclist named Natalie Gauld who has motor neurone disease and is STILL doing a bunch of NZ’s Great Rides. Resolved to complain less on this blog. Then came across a dreary article about a person who doesn’t like the cycle lane that goes past her clothes shop in Thorndon. ‘Every second customer complains there’s nowhere to park now.’ After reading the article I went into an extended daydream about going into the shop wearing full-body hi-vis and getting into a terrible argument with the proprietor and being thrown out. Nothing good comes of this for anyone. But as a person who fears confrontation, sometimes I like to imagine myself as a person who rides directly into the storm.

The ride home was probably the slowest ride home from work I have ever done – low gear the whole way, white-knuckle grip.

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
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2 Responses to Cycling week

  1. Rick and Heather says:

    Hi Ashleigh, Another great read! My God, the wind, the bloody Kiwi wind! I do not miss it! Had so many incidents with the winds in Ardgowan when biking to and from school. Nearly always blowing like 40 bastards from one direction or another. Have felt that helpless moment when your back wheel takes flight – eeeekkk. Once, a howling gale threw me and my bike right into a thorn bush hedge – long ridiculous story for anohter time. So sorry to hear you have sciatica – I have endured it for years. Take good care of yourself! Hedy ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    • ashleighlou says:

      ‘blowing like 40 bastards’!! Haha.
      Also, Heather, also we need to exchange ‘falling into hedge’ stories sometime. The one I fell into on the weekend was nice and soft though. xx


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