Musings from the Darkness

Reality is always an unpleasant surprise; no one wants to see ourselves the way others see us, and that’s for good reason, too: depression would be much more widespread problem if each of us realized what a pain in the ass we are. Speaking of unpleasant realities, after recently reviewing videos of myself speaking, I have deduced that I have the face for radio, the hand gesticulations for both Mime and Cheerleading (neither for which I have an ambition), and the voice for print. That leaves me with the Internet.

A long commute to work in darkness is a surreal experience. The early hour leaves the road vacant, and the rider is confined to the small cone of light beyond which exists only blackness. The mind settles into the vampire state of wandering a being alert all at once. Thoughts of the day’s work will lay somewhere on the periphery; not front of mind, yet inexorably nearer with every stroke of the pedals. The rain and cold amplify the effect.

Strange thoughts are thought in this state, not unlike those you might have just as you catch yourself falling asleep. The first paragraph of this article is a fine example of such a thought. For this, I ask your forgiveness.

The commute presents its own challenge, new obstacles to overcome. The wet winter commute sandwiches the workday like two soggy slices of bread. One finds very quickly that it is not the cold, the dark or the wet that is unpleasant; it is the sodden kit hanging in a locker all day not getting fresher that is unpleasant.

This morning looked dry from the bedroom window, a terrible place from which to judge the weather. Rain was in the forecast (this is Seattle and January, after all), so I slipped into my Gabba jersey as easily as James Bond slips into a dinner jacket. I stepped outside and noted that it would be nice if the weather stayed dry for the ride in so the kit might be more pleasant when dressing for the evening’s ride home.

I should know better than to think such thoughts; the rain was summoned immediately by the Nine Gods to remind me that the Glory of Rule #9 is not chosen at the rider’s convenience or whim. Fool.

Riding with a backpack is a nuisance. As Velominati, we have refined our position and learned to control the bike through micro-movements and immeasurable shifts of body weight. The gear-loaded backpack is a sledgehammer to our china cup of balance. Our position feels off, the bike handles differently, and we are heavier by two kilos at least. This, along with every other reason you can think of why backpacks suck, is more than enough to encourage one to avoid the climbs, especially the steep ones.

But there is a beauty behind the nuisance: climbing with a heavy load is like training in a fat suit. Seek out the hardest climbs and the next time you ride without a pack, you will feel as though you were given wings. Instant morale.

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103 Replies to “Musings from the Darkness”

  1. @tessar

    >>> Nothing better than polishing your bike pares-ride with a beer in the garden on a nice afternoon, nothing worse than staying in the baking/freezing shed after a Rule #9 ride to clean the grit off the bike. <<<

    My buddy and I were discussing exactly that yesterday afternoon during a ride following about 12 hours of hard rain. I’d spent the earlier part of w/e in the garage during the rain cleaning and polishing four bikes that had gone too long w/o appropriate care. And the bike I was on is still going to need a lot of attn after the wet ride. I simply rinsed it off and put it away. Ugghh. They just don’t get the care and attn in the winter that they do in the summer that is for sure.

    I finally put an air compressor in the garage. A wonderful tool for helping in the cleaning of a bike.

  2. @Oli

    That’s the most important time to do it though – just apply Rule #5 to your maintenance duties as well as your hardman rides.

    I try, but usually I just stick to “functional” maintenance rather than the full treatment. Chain gets wiped & relubed, a quick scrub on the braking surface and moving parts inspected, but keeping the entire bike immaculate is a Sisyphean task. Especially since the weather gods insist that it has to rain within 24 hours of a thorough cleaning.

  3. @frank coming to this article late but your statement, in the actual article, rings especially true. Actually all of it does, riding in the dark is strangely cathartic and exciting. Not being able to see what lies beyond the narrow fine of light turns an other wise routine ride into a new adventure.

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