38 tagged with #pedaling

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Twenty-Seven


At night I listen to the howling winds while refreshing the weather forecast for the morning. Some days, I don't want to be spoiled for what the dawn will bring me, but often I feel the need to be prepared.

My new rule is that days which I fail to arrive on time are not allowed to be erased from my calendar; the little numbers written on a corner of my whiteboard must remain, more or less indefinitely, as a haunting reminder of my bad morning habits. Somehow, there is no negative reinforcement strong enough to motivate me to arrive at the time I plan when I have no actual obligations beyond keeping my word to myself.

The snores of the downstairs neighborhood reverberate impressively into my room; once, he knocked on my door at 11:30 because the basement laundry machine I started had woken him up.

The world is a layer of slush ponding rainwater and snowmelt, and I manipulate the flow of traffic around me to minimize the amount of splashback I get from cars that pass inappropriately. Subtle shifts in lane position and velocity, and a well-timed peek over my shoulder keeps the cars in their place, and I am the shepherd dog racing through stampeding sheep.

Today is a good day to be. Today is a good day to look up and see the occasional patch of blue, to get coated from the waist down with salt and sand. Today is good.

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18 February 2014 11:56


Tread Carefully, Again


"Excuse me, did you see me here?" I asked after pounding on the driver's window.

The driver was a man in his 30s, wearing glasses and a big hat, and there were young children in his car. The small sedan had backed out of the driveway at me, where I was waiting for the light to turn to my favor. I heard the sound of gears grinding into place and looked over my shoulder just in time to see the trunk-mounted bike rack, metal prongs sticking out of the little car, rushing towards me. My feet had enough traction in the slush for me to scramble backwards while the car swung around past me.

I only needed to lean forward slightly to reach the window as the he changed gears into forward drive. He looked up at me with an expression of horror that he somehow completely missed seeing a figure in a bright chartreuse jacket and orange ski goggles under broad daylight when it was no longer snowing. All I heard was my own panting breath and his idle engine when he quickly shook his head and slammed on the accelerator to get away from me.

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16 February 2014 17:35


Return to Sender, alt


My excitement for renting a PO box has been quickly tamped down by the number of mailpieces I've received that were attempts to extract money from some other person.

I've had collections sent on me once, for a library fine I was too ashamed to pay in person for so long that the librarians contracted an external service to extract it from me, all eight dollars and seventy-five cents of it. I had hoarded a copy of 1984, which I read and didn't feel like returning when it was due. I don't remember if I returned it late, or not at all.

When I biked home for my afternoon tea break, I decided to leave my pack in my office. I didn't consider the possibility that I'd want to bring a book back to work in the evening, but with forty pages left of a chapter I needed to finish reading, I had no choice but to figure out a way to carry it without feeling dumb about having a second bag in my office.

The book fit neatly inside the front of my jacket, like a breastplate that further insulated my torso against the wind. I hoped that the action of pedaling would keep pushing the bottom of the book back upwards into my jacket, instead of causing it to fall into traffic.

I got funny looks trying to dig a big red library hardcover out of my clothing while walking my bike through the building to my office.

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11 February 2014 17:59


Tread Carefully


I saw the salt-encrusted red truck start to turn onto my road before he realized he wasn't going to get the turning radius he expected, and I tensed. In a moment, all I knew was the distance between myself and every escape route possible, but none of them seemed like a plausible option. I was ready to vault onto the hood as a last resort, and he saw me at the same time his wheels suddenly became nearly useless front-mounted rudders.

The sound of tires losing traction have been haunting me this entire winter, and every winter prior. It's the only thing I truly fear when I'm riding with traffic, that a driver will lose control of their car while our vehicles are on an unchangeable trajectory towards each other. I heard those wheels spinning under the heavy load, useless scraping against the ice for an entire heartbeat before becoming drowned out by a frantic honking of the horn. I squeezed down, knowing just how much pressure my brake levers could take without sending the bike sideways underneath of me, embedding my front tire into a snowbank.

I faced the truck, which had so much snow on the hood that I couldn't even feel heat rising from the engine that idled a foot away from my chest. Breath curled out from my balaclava, lit by the truck's headlamps. I couldn't see the driver inside the dark cab, and he probably couldn't see my face behind the light well of my headlamp. I threw a hand up in equal parts helpless despair and "the hell do you want from me" in response to the honk.

My right foot was buried past the ankle in the wall of snow built by passing plows, and it came free with a lurch as I dismounted to push my bike to a clearer path so I could move on with my ride.

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10 February 2014 09:14


Happens All the Time


"Aren't you freezing biking around in this weather?" the elctrician asked me when I wheeled my bike into the elevator. I just gave him a shrug and a grin.

"How else am I supposed to get around?"

"Well, I don't know. Do you live too far away to walk?"

"Not really, it just takes too long."

"But you won't freeze the way you would on a bike."

"Honestly, I'd rather be really cold for fifteen minutes than kind of cold for forty-five."

He watched me peeling off my outer layers and shook his head once the elevator got to my floor. "I just think you'd freeze on a bike."

"Nah, I'm fine. Take it easy!"

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07 February 2014 14:18


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