There was some cycling, there was some griping, there was more cycling after that.
As I set off down Highbury Rd I was nearly taken out by a Countdown truck roaring up the hill. Squeezed myself into side of the road just in time. That crazy Countdown truck! I’ve had a few run-ins with it before. One time as I was zooming down a steep bit of hill, it accelerated past me at full blast and cut in front to turn left. There’s something funny to me about a truck full of supermarket goods hooning peevishly around in Highbury. But, well, also something slightly menacing. I have never seen the driver’s face. Maybe the truck is being driven by bags of frozen peas in the shape of a man.
Rode home at lunchtime for the day. Peaceful, sweaty.
On the ride to work I saw some women carrying huge-baby-sized bunches of flowers. Also saw a guy gliding along on one of those single-wheel electric scooters, with a helmet like Robocop. I can’t decide what I think of those scooters. It’s probably best if I don’t think anything. But I still feel that anything standing at full height while moving at speed is inherently unsettling (see also: bikes that stand on roof racks, people on e-scooters, tall buses, and horses in horse floats).
A bad ride home, for no single reason: body was sore, another cyclist followed me weirdly closely up Glasgow and I became stressed, a car passed far too close on a tight bend, breath was too hard to catch, gradient kept increasing, thoughts kept churning, nose kept running, and most of all it felt like (warning: self-righteous rage ahead) there were far, far too many cars.
Freshly pumped-up tyres – a delight. I set off on this ride thinking: I am going to attack this day. Then my energy flagged almost immediately. I would focus on just getting through.
Rode to work in cold diagonal jabbing rain, scrunching up face. It’s interesting how the face tries to protect itself from weather, like a turtle pulling itself into its shell, and how futile this is.
Narrowly avoided a serious downpour. There is something very satisfying about coming in out of the rain, only for the rain to bear down even harder.
The new rain jacket is holding up well.
Sometimes I think about this blog, and fear that I am approaching a level of boringness that I have never reached before. When I unlock that level, maybe there will be something new on the other side. But probably there won’t be. Maybe that is a reason for continuing: to trace familiar journeys that feel inconsequential and see what they might add up to, to try somehow to transcend boringness, and to shake myself out of my usual mode of trudging through life with eyes half closed. I do fear, though, being boring, and exposing the smallness and circularity of my life. A while ago, in a newspaper column, I tried to write about our fear and disdain of the boring, and argued: ‘Every person, no matter how talented or knowledgeable, sometimes acts like a big old bore. I bet even Prince complained about the mould on his bathroom ceiling once, or rang a biscuit manufacturer to complain that their packets were too hard to open. The point is that occasionally boring others is part of being alive, and, further to this, often the deeper truths we’re looking for aren’t exciting or surprising.’ I sounded so certain. (It’s odd how, if you write a column, you find yourself taking on a tone of crazed certainty.) But it’s all utterly subjective anyway, isn’t it – the Buddhist response would be that anything can be interesting if only we are open and curious enough. I am not open and curious enough to find certain things – long speeches, parties where you can’t hear what anyone’s saying, conversations about home reno or anything involving drainage – interesting, but many other people are.
Anyway, look, I don’t know what I’m talking about. But the decision is this: we continue.
In between hailstorms, rode up the hill to get bread. Because I’d run out of clean pants, I had to wear some old, padded cycling shorts. Over time these shorts have disintegrated horribly so they now have diseased-looking patches all over. But they were really comfortable and I resolved to wear them more often.
Rode back home proudly with the bread. This is how I imagine parents must feel when they ferry their children to and from school on bikes.
Rode out to Newtown in the morning. I always love riding through Memorial Park – this morning there were some young skaters flipping and running around and falling over in the sunshine. I was going to Newtown to see an orthopaedic specialist about my disc slippage – the foot is still numb and the leg still sometimes behaves like an alien appendage. The specialist told me that some people never ever regain feeling in their foot. Interesting. I knew the appointment was a bad idea.
Even with the excellent new cycle lane along Adelaide and Riddiford, this ride still kind of gives me the heebie jeebies, what with cars pulling out or turning in across the lane, and people leaping out of buses. But for the most part this was a good ride – to be out at mid-morning, outside of the rush. There was abundant bike parking outside the hospital, and a cycle lane from the front entrance back down to the road. The ride back to work, especially old nemesis the Terrace, was a slightly painful, hungry slog.
After work I rode to the pub then rode home later, up the ever-steeper hill, exhausted, lugging panniers, trying to cheer myself on. Then – disaster – my left knee seized up! I bellowed into the night in frustration. Was this a brand new injury? But then, once I got home and hobbled around, the knee went back to normal. I realised it was just the cold in my knees, and felt a hundred years old. If I ever actually get to be a hundred I will allow myself to glide around, standing at full terrifying height, on one of those single-wheeled scooter things.
You could never bore me. I get anxious if I have to wait for you, because truly you are my Alan Bennett,
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I may have said this twicw but truly you could never bore me, you are my Alan Bennett.
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Ashleigh, I have to tell you that your brilliant thought about the food truck driver as ‘bags of frozen peas in the shape of a man’ has been what has kept me going this week. Absolutely hilarious! Every time I see a grocery store truck driver now, I laugh. Being of strong French descent and as a result being rather short and plump, the companies probably use bags of broad beans to make the drivers over here. Cheers always! Hedy XXXXX
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Broad beans! This made me cackle. Yes, that sounds right. Xx