Unlike driving, where one is mostly protected from the elements, being on a bicycle means that whatever the weather, it is your intimate companion. Today, my companion was the wind. A warm, 20-30 mph wind.
Coming down a hill on the way back home from work this afternoon, the wind was blowing right at me. No matter how hard I peddled, I barely moved. Usually, this hill takes less than a minute to go down. Today, it was probably five, and by the end, I had to get off and walk. This is so much my life as a whole, don’t you think?
What’s funny is that the very thing which causes you so much distress can, in another moment, be your benefactor. Going down a different hill a little later, the wind which held me back before now pushed me along so that I was gliding along, my legs barely even moving the pedals.
This soon gave way to the wind being at my side, tipping the bicycle off balance as anxiety rose within.
It is difficult, in this kind of weather, to check out your life. You must be fully present, which is a gift of the bicycle’s form as a mode of transportation.
These days, bicycles are moving back into the North American mainstream. In some places, it seems everyone is riding them — be it for pleasure, exercise, transportation, or all of the above (like myself). I’d like to think that part of this resurgence is about answering that longing within each of us to reconnect with the planet. Not just that we want to be more “environmentally friendly,” which is certainly a positive, but that our collective return to the bicycle is the result of a waking up to who we are as one species among many.
Maybe it’s mostly more mundane than that. People need to exercise. People want to save money. People want to copy their friends and family. But it’s possible that all of this is true and, at the same time, the re-emergence of bicycles is one sign of a shift in the collective, human consciousness. I’d like to think so, anyway, as I pedal along, a companion of the wind.
“Yellow Bike” © Nathan Thompson