subtitled ‘an eventful commute’.
it was chilly this morning and flakes of snow were falling from the sky. i opted to ride, much as sean kelly would have opted to ride first, ask questions later. although i opted to ride at around half the pace of the mighty irishman from carrick on suir.
halfway up belmont i passed a fellow cyclist – at 6.40 in the morning. this is an event that is startling in its rarity. i sometimes see people coming down the hill, but never up it. they are hill avoiders all. as i passed i gave him a hearty, not-out-of-breath hello, and we both commented on the lovely weather as the flurries danced across the powerful beams of our car-blinding lanelights and a moment’s solidarity was achieved.
on arriving at work i felt vaguely pleased with myself and smug. i anticipated comments from my frozen colleagues on how mad i must have been to contemplate cycling. when they duly arrived i felt more smug and wrote down a few masochism points in my imaginary cycling log book of suffering.
the way home proved eventful. i rode out towards the docks for a bit of a spin. i got lost in shirehampton. this is the second time it has happened. the only thing i can compare it to is jorge luis borges’ collection of stories, labyrinths, and more specifically, the garden of forking paths. shirehampton is a sprawling village of endless bifurcation and potentiality, none of the forks lead where you might expect and none of them hold any promise of narratological satisfaction. maybe the forking in shirehampton takes place in time, not space. if so, i was damn lucky to escape. either way, a short ride turned into a substantially longer one. at least i got to see the chemical works by night, a genuinely eerie and strangely alluring sight.
the rest of the ride home was an odd one. i picked up my CTT handbook from the club chairman’s house. this was very exciting. i can now plan my peaks and troughs for the forthcoming season more accurately. then, on riding across the downs, something unpleasant happened. i took a corner wide on account of ice and grit, only to be beeped at repeatedly by a man in a car. i waved my arms in frustration, he drove past and slammed on the anchors. i have to add that when this happens i immediately turn around and ride the other way and i did so on this occasion, stopping around 20 metres further back to wait the inevitable mouthful. the driver did not disappoint – he threatened to stab me in the face. this was a new one on me. he could barely get the words out, such was his utter inarticulate and incandescant fury. i opted to pedal away and asked, rhetorically, ‘would you really? stab me in the face for taking a corner wide? really?’. i was gobsmacked and not a little freaked out. i then took the main road back through town and resolved – just as i did last time – to never ride through the centre of town again.
it has been a surreal day.