Someone asked me to write something for a project of theirs. They wanted it to be about bikes, and particularly about something to do with how riding teh fixies were gateway drugs. I wrote this. It’s been some time between me sending it to the project manager, I think the project is going to miss some major milestones and deadlines are wooshing by. I don’t think PRINCE2 will save the situation.
Anyway. Words follow.
Originally, I thought riding bikes was just to go somewhere. Going to work, going to school, going to the park. That sort of thing. Then it changed. I started going out on Friday nights, Tuesday nights, and Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings were late starts, almost Sunday afternoons. Somebody told me “cycling is a morning activity”.
My life has changed. I rarely go out on Sunday mornings anymore. Tuesday nights are rare. Friday nights are possible. I’ve found myself locked into revolutions of the perimeter of Royal parks; plans for suburban south London and Kent expeditions before work have been shelved. Fighting with cars in the lanes, both of us desperate to reach our destinations, doesn’t rank highly in my list of things to do before I die.
Taking the time when, where, and with who I can has become the way to do things. Dad o’clock. Leaving the house when the family are still asleep. Waving quietly to Alex, making sure my kit is out and ready the night before, eating quietly. Texting friends, checking the forums responsible for organising the ride this week. Closing doors quietly. Whispered “I love you”s.
There are social Saturday “bashclub”, the stars are in alignment and a pre ride coffee is possible, company up to Crystal Palace is present, club mates arrive up that fucking hill on time and ready to go. One hundred and eighty minutes, possibly two hundred and fourty. Approximately thirty thousand heartbeats. Back to that fucking hill. There may be the chance for a post ride chat. Sometimes a coffee. Infrequently, a pint.
There are antisocial “bashclub”s. 7am, still feels late sometimes, up the hill alone. Good. This is about getting away from everyone and everything. I don’t really talk on the social bashclubs, My sparkling wit and repartee isn’t wasted.
Have to be home by a time. Have to be back. Mustntbelate. Have to go somewhere afterwards. Cycling to get somewhere. Rather than be somewhere.
Rushing out, rushing home, rushing to do something else. Desperately fitting in as much as possible within the time available, before other commitments previously acquiesced to are honoured.
There are rides with friends at night after work. Work people think you’re weird. They think you’re weird anyway. Let them. Trying to take up as little room as possible on the first train after 7 pm, to get further away from London. Litres of gas exchanged. Sharing the last train back with other weird people who lack bieks but want to talk to you about them. You spend hours in the dark following pulsing red lights, listening to voices in your head, conversations rip past you because of the wind, animals spotted in the periphery of your vision.
You tell people you don’t do big Saturday nights out anymore.
You let them think you’re clean.
You let them think that.
You get London streets at midnight. No traffic. By the normal standard. It takes an hour to calm down. You make sure your kit is out for tomorrow. Whispered “I love you”s.
You cycle to relatives when you visit them. You make good time. You achieve multiple goals from big targets with huge guns.
You find yourself doing static cycling, in the morning, at night. Whenever there is an hour free. This is worrying.
You talk to other parents. You realise it’s the same for them. You stop thinking you’re special. You would like to align these non normal normal people and cycle together.