Monday, September 8, 2008

In the interests of sanity

In the interests of sanity, I have begun riding alternate routes. When I ride the same car and cyclist choked arteries every day, I find I end up yelling at drivers and shaking my head at helmet-less idiots. I don't know why I expect the world to be any other way than it is, i.e. full of idiots, me among them, but that's what happens when I force myself through the city's narrowest sluices along with the rest of the human detritus.

And so, many mornings, I ride out of the way, down Mass Ave. and up the river, pedaling slowly past the homeless who camp there, the tattered Canada geese who shit all over the path and the morning joggers who all impress me with their shear will to improve themselves.

That is a quiet, peaceful ride, despite Storrow Drive roaring its way alongside. I keep my head cocked to the river side. I watch the rowers in their sculls, gliding along the water, the mallards and cormorants sunning themselves. I gauge the wind by the ripples on the water and try hard not to hurry.

On the way home, I've been veering off the mainline, Hampshire St, that cuts through Cambridge, and riding up to Union Square, where the pavement is almost lunar with bumps and craters. Beyond that I catch Summer Street, which climbs the long hill to Somerville Hospital. No one rides that route because it's all up. Commuters don't climb if they don't have to. So I have it to myself, and I have to say it's made me stronger. What was once a lung-busting grind, is now a steady spin. With a wind at my back, I've even sprinted the whole thing.

What a feeling that is, to sprint a hill I once struggled to summit with my one stingy gear.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do while riding a bicycle is to just sit and ride. It is only too easy to get wrapped up in everything else that goes on around you, the lousy drivers, the weather, the heat. I am at my best when I just sit and ride.

Just shut the hell up and ride.

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