As I sat down to write this article, I noticed that the battery on my laptop needed charging. I stood to reach for the charger, picked it up, and then watched helplessly as it slipped from my hand and pin-balled off every possible surface between my hand and the floor. I then muttered something that suggested it was birthed outside of wedlock and asserted that it may not in fact be comprised of plastic and electronics, but entirely of fecal material, as is the customary reaction to such events.
Having successfully insulted the inanimate object and thereby preserved my dignity, I picked it up (again) and unwound its cord which then promptly whipped around and smacked me in the face. On some days, I’ve come to learn, I just don’t have it.
This pattern of general discombobulation spread it’s tentacles beyond my benign computer-charging activity; it affected my cycling. Having spent 27 years climbing aboard a bicycle, most of the associated activities are second-nature and thus require very little focussed effort. Shifting, drinking from the bidon, clicking into the pedals; all these things happen without so much as a second thought and never do they require me to look down.
Or, I should say, almost never.
On this day I found myself with the chain crossed on two separate occasions; once on the little ring and once in the big ring. The fact that I only noticed I was in the big ring as I came to the top of a climb I found unusually difficult did little to temper my disgust at the incident. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of a chain cross out of necessity, but I’m usually aware of it. What I found intolerable was the simple fact that I was caught completely unaware; that the connection between rider and machine had somehow been severed. But what I found most insufferable was the fact that I had to stare down at my feet and concentrate on the pedals in order to clip into them, lest my foot was left to dangle uselessly in the air just adrift of my pedals. I’m surprised I didn’t drop my bidon while attempting to replace it in it’s cage. Infuriating.
But even on these clumsiest of days, I can still spin the pedals smoothly enough to lose myself in the sensation of flight as my machine and I sweep through a series of hairpin turns together. I find I can still breath in the delightfully damp smell of a stand of deciduous trees or the sunbaked smell of a cedar pine forest. I find I can still indulge in the urge to make my legs burn for no reason other than to quell the doubt that I still can. Even on these days, when all the little things seem to conspire together to wear at my patience, the beauty of The Ride still unfolds before me.
Vive la Vie Velominatus.