Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bad Moon Rising, Good Bike-Riding. (Bike Hour)

I didn't think I was going to make it to the first Bike Hour of 2013, after a completely normal day I suddenly felt terrible around 4pm with sinus pain clouding my mind and a very strong lunch time coffee leaving my body feeling strung out (Which is why I rarely drink coffee). Ginger was engaged elsewhere and couldn't participate so I didn't even have the motivation of peer pressure to get me out of the house. Despite this I really just wanted to ride my bicycle and I especially wanted to try out the bell I had just installed on the Schwinn so I struggled through a 'Nanna Nap' but did not expect to feel able at 5:45. I predictably failed to achieve the perfect power snooze but I did manage to doze long enough for various nasal sprays and tablets to work their respiratory magic and enough caffeine to dissipate so that my heart stopped pounding like a gavel-happy judge. During this quasi-rest my phone had been buzzing with some frequency and on rising I was surprised to discover multiple weather alerts for approaching thunderstorms. My app assured me that the storm wouldn't hit until after midnight so I put my faith in technology, put some tights on under my skirt and headed out into the golden Autumn dusk to embrace Bike Hour.

Wool Modesty Tights? Check. New Bell? Check.
Dork Head and Narcissistic Selfie? Check.
Let's Bike Hour this bitch!

Deciding to take it easy but also target the 'visibility' element of Bike Hour I determined my route based upon the bike path as well as foot/car traffic in my town. I glided past some early diners in a local eatery and sailed towards the beach which is skirted by both a boardwalk and main road. The weather warnings might have scared motorists into hibernation because the usually busy highway was all but empty. People on foot seemed to have an entirely different attitude to the changing weather and I saw the usual amount of dog walkers, joggers and boardwalk strollers, though the playgrounds were curiously abandoned. It was temperate and there was no immediate threat of rain so in the end the only effect of the coming storm was dynamic and stunning scenery with constantly changing light. Next to the skate park I was literally brought to a halt by a spectacular 'Fingers of God' display. My phone could not really capture the clear delineation of each shaft of blazing light, or the scale of it.

To the West, Nature's Majesty.
To the East, surly teens and some of the only bicycles I saw during Bike Hour.
The sea air put me in excellent spirits so I smiled at everybody I passed and was pleased to note they all smiled back. I figured if nothing else, my Bike Hour could be labelled a success for the mere giving and receiving of goodwill. I had a big and bright "HELLO!" and a wave from a toddler as I exited the boardwalk and a lot of smiles from people who heard my new bell. I saw exactly one other bicycle outside of the skate park scooter/bmx posse, a Very Serious Roadie who was blazing along the bike path in lycra-cased sweatiness. I was sorely tempted to shout, "Happy Bike Hour!" in a cheerfully deranged fashion and confuse the hell out of him but I am not innately cruel and I could see he was thinking deeply about whether bike paths count as 'junk miles' so I didn't break his concentration. Instead I simply smiled at him as we passed like two ships in the night - Me, the plucky blue tug boat of the Schwinn and He, the kind of ship where your balls stick to your inner thigh. Thus ended my only encounter with a fellow cyclist during Bike Hour. The rest of the path out of town went exactly like this:
A couple of cars,
Leaning on a bench to check my phone,
And then taking a picture of myself once I realised nobody could see me.
Then I made a video of an ugly sand dune because I am nothing if not too lazy to check if I have actually videoed something interesting:

Around the bench leaning, phone checking portion of my Bike Hour I received a message from my Brother saying he was in a newly opened pub in town. Infused with a sense of purpose and the promise of a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, I ordered him to stay put and eagerly bicycled back to town…with a quick stop on the boardwalk to document my highly important journey and the ever more turbulent sea, of course.

Once I arrived at the pub I discovered the streetscape was completely bereft of items to which a person may attach a bicycle. I wondered if I should have used the multistory car park bike lockers some blocks previous but in the end I chose immediate gratification/foolhardy trust in strangers and parked next to the entrance. Fortunately, my Brother was sitting within view of it so I could easily keep one eye on the precious and it was because of this I discovered that my laziness had actually resulted in the most successful part of my Bike Hour. As I sipped my lemonade and lime I had a perfect view of multiple people pausing to admire and comment on the Schwinn. Some were pub patrons, some were merely walking past but I did not see a single person fail to contemplate the obviously-being-used-for-transportation bicycle. Their interest gave me pleasure although I admit I tensed up when people came close to stroking it. (That's what HE said.) I was far enough away from the Jenny that nobody could tell which person in the pub had been so radical as to arrive on two wheels. My helmet was left in the basket and I was sweat free and dressed in a way that left no clues. The Schwinn appeared a free agent and so I had accidentally provided a blank canvas for the potential bicycle dreams of my fellow (wo)man. It probably helped that the Jenny looked rather delightful against the building as the light faded. I hope everybody had a safe and enjoyable Bike Hour and I look forward to a little more Bikeception at the next Bike Hour equinox in September!

"I'll just lock up on the…um…bastard."
"Eh. I can see the back wheel from inside."

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