Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Book of Bicycling and Forgetting

Words on brushed aluminum lit by bright white bicycle headlight

It's Books and Bikes Week here on OSG.

She tore out of the parking garage at 30 mph while talking on her cellphone without even looking. It's a blind corner so I couldn't see her coming, and I guess she couldn't see me either. But I heard her coming, saw her headlight, saw her blond hair and cell phone stuck to her ear, and figured she wasn't stopping anyway. I slowed down, and only hoped that she noticed the bright white bicycle light that suddenly appeared right in her rear window.

Light caressing aluminum words that loom out of the darkness of forgetting

Tones fade from light to night, grandpa handing down words to remember: how to farm, how to ride, how to be human.

This was the last of November, and I was able to ride home wearing a t-shirt. My laughter filled the night. I was laughing because a typical reaction to someone cutting you off like she did would be to stew on it all the way home in your car, perhaps flip your finger at her, yell ineffectually at the inside of your windshield, perhaps honk madly, or even try to chase her down and cut her off. Yeah, that would sure show her! 

I laughed because I was riding my bicycle home through the perfect night air, and contemplating a quote from the book I am currently reading (and marking with my home-laminated Changing Hands 414 Mill Ave bookmarks!), The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler: "Americans have been living car-centered lives for so long that the collective memory of what used to make a landscape or a townscape or even a suburb humanly rewarding has nearly been erased." 

On my bike, I am able to turn it over and over in my mind, and laugh. "It" being whatever needs turning over and over: anger, book reflections, ride stimuli. On my bike, I'm able to pause at signage describing a bridge designed by Paolo Soleri, someone who has not forgotten how to make a townscape humanly rewarding. And I laugh, and forget the anger. Eventually, all I recall is her hair, shining in the illumination of my headlight. Turn it over.

Work and Play and Books: along the canal on the last night in November, 2011. Humanly rewarding.


  1. laughter after a near chop . . . i've felt that jra! i've taken all the other options you've listed here and none has the same good quality lasting effect. it takes you right back into the good place of being on a bike, going somewhere . . . . steven

  2. A clear late Fall evening is one of the nicer times to ride. Most of the blondes are at home.

  3. steven, "a near chop," that's a new expression to me. Equanimity in adversity has positive effects on all involved, I think.

    Steve A, in one day, my clear November evenings turned into chilly December shivers. Looks like it's time to open the cold weather drawer.

    kentsbike thanks for tweeting this post.


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