Thursday, July 17, 2008

Riding home after dark in the city

I use my bicycle for transportation around the city and the 'burbs. If I am not mindful of the roll of the wheels, the rush of wind passing by, and the strength of my legs, I sometimes forget that I'm riding a bicycle. If I pay attention, the city allows the opportunity to refocus.

Tonight I pedaled home from a farm in southern Wethersfield. I was loaded down with gear: work clothes, thermos, lunch remnants, bicycle tools, and notebook in my trusty backpack; cleats, sweaty clothes, and water bottle in my old Mountainsmith shoulder/ass bag slung over my shoulder. After stopping after dark at a warehouse-y grocery store with cashiers and managers cranky and eager to get home, I had added more items to my backpack and gained a plastic grocery bag tied to the the outside of my shoulder/ass bag. As I approached the Hartford line, the street lights dimmed, the presence of the Wethersfield police vanished, and the undeniably gritty atmosphere of South Hartford and Wethersfield Avenue rushed over me.

I had lost some mindfulness to that point, with my mind drifting to other places and times, but the lively, dark feel of the city put my attention back to my grip on the handlebars, the movements of my eyes, and the timing of my pedal strokes.

There were a few kids riding bicycles leisurely on the sidewalks, occasional groups of men and women on stoops and porches and street corners, escaping the lingering evening heat of city apartments in summer. Underneath the darkness and smells of the street- garbage, trees, pavement, rubber, cigarette, exhaust, dirt- there was the sure feeling that I'm riding a bicycle, and that's all I'm doing.

What a gift to bicycle home through the dark city!


Julie Dixon said...

Lovely piece of writing.

Nomad said...

Not much to say, but this was a GREAT post to read and reflects why I am coming to love biking. The activity started out as a low-impact way to get exercise, but is quickly becoming much more for me because of experiences like this.