Thursday 16 October 2014

Moments of Magic

I looked out of the house this morning and for the first morning in a long time, it looked wet outside. We've been unusually lucky in Glasgow with the weather recently. It looked like it would be the first wet cycle to work in a while.

It's often on mornings like this when, the unexpected happens. No, I'm not talking about bad driving, unfortunately that is to be expected! No, something a little......magical. It doesn't happen often and it is often a fleeting moment, but as you ride your bike along, something happens that just catches you out, and makes all the cycling you do worth while.

The rain happened to stop not long before I was out, so whilst the ground was wet, it wasn't raining. The darkness was starting to lift, but it was still dimly lit, and there was wind. Not a huge amount, but enough to call it a bit windy. So I set off and as I was on time, I took the longer quieter roads to work. It was as I rode along these roads that .... it happened.

It's difficult to describe to those that don't really cycle, but I'll try my best. You are riding along, and pretty quickly you realise that you have a tailwind. That in itself is brilliant. Instead of having to push hard along undulating country lanes, you seem to glide. I think the ground being a bit damp seems to help as well. You can hear the wind blowing by your ears, something that you have nearly all the time riding a bike. Then as you head around a bend in the road.... it happens. Suddenly it goes quiet. Really, really quiet. Not complete silence, you can still hear the whirr of your chain, the slight rumble of your tyres on wet tarmac, and your breathing, but something has stopped.

The wind.

It's that fleeting few moments when you are cruising along with the tailwind and you reach perfect, 'tailwind velocity'. You are riding along in perfect tune with the wind, and for those fleeting seconds it feels like you perfectly in tune with the wind. You've silenced it. The only sound is you and the bike. You just have to stop breathing.....

And then it passes. The wind changes speed or direction, you change speed or direction slightly and the noise returns.

That to me is what cycling is all about. It might sound cheesy, but even in the city, even surrounded by traffic and chaos, occasionally something happens that just takes you somewhere far away, somewhere unconnected. Sometimes it's 'tailwind velocity'. Sometimes it's feeling the first heat from a glorious sunrise. Sometimes it's cycling down into a shallow and feeling a sudden change in air temperature. Sometimes it's a child smiling and waving from a passing car.

This blog is unfortunately dominated by issues, problems and difficulties. That's a reflection of conditions for cycling in and around Glasgow. That's not going to change any time soon, I'm afraid. But, in amongst all downsides there are still many moments that make cycling to work every day an absolute joy. And so it was today. Whilst I did later experience some bad driving once I hit the streets of Glasgow,  my over-riding memory of today's ride was that short, fleeting moment of magic.

Now if only I could share this magic with everyone. If only our roads felt safe enough for everyone to experience the magic of cycling.

1 comment:

  1. You get even more of those moments long distance walking along country lanes. Cycling often requires just enough exertion to be near the "zone" but not quite in it. It sure beats sitting in a tin box getting road rage though. It just sucks that society isn't structured at 3mph, even if it means being on the road for 2-5 days at a time.