Monday, December 30, 2013

Falling in Traffic

Being home is normal, comforting, reassuring, familiar & all that jazz.
For better, & sometimes worse.

It has been a roller coaster.  Alongside many many reunions, I had a job within a week of arriving, was back at school in the next couple weeks, got back to the radio station, the venue & started a bike mechanics workshop.  Shortly thereafter I was sick of uni, feeling unchallenged & by the time exams rolled around I was bored, anxious & afraid of staying & leaving all at once.  Ideas sometimes crush me with their immensity, then lift me with their possibility.

My anxieties about being home are channeled into winter cycling.  This has been my personification of re-exploring familiar territory; the only cure for reverse culture shock.

I stumbled into it because the snow came, & I was still on the road.  Just trying to keep what's natural.  Cycling has been a major component of city life.  I've had a bike in every city I've lived in; Magellan in Winnipeg, Storm in Auckland & Artemis in Melbourne.

I thought this was new terrain, but this is the city I grew up in.
I thought I was going to re-learn to ride a bike, but most of the hazards are year-round.
(Especially the giant metal instruments of death.)

The day of the first snow, I was excited to take it on, but mostly terrified.  There are two types of people my father hates: Winter cyclists & I forget the other one.  It is simply impossible.  Summer leisure (& the sunny optimism of a bike bell) combined with ice, snow drifts & -40C weather.  Impossible.

The road had me locked in a staring competition for alpha dominance.  I wasn't going to lose.  As a cyclist, I shrug off aggressive drivers & stand my ground.  While developing my road legs as a winter cyclist, I admittedly made a couple rookie mistakes.  Cars HATED me.  My terror was at it's highest on my way to work during rush hour on a busy street.  Everybody thought I was out of my mind & I had to agree.

It took about 2 tactical changes in strategy to make winter cycling my new favourite thing.
1 - Know your route/Avoid traffic.  2 - Dress warm.

Now I am defying physics.  Not only do I make the impossible happen, but I dominate it!
I relish tucking my scarf under my goggles & wearing my touque over my helmet.  I glide along beautiful vistas of the river (i.e. ice).  I am grateful for long underwear.  (This is my first true winter in almost 3 years.)  I dance at stop lights & hope people are watching.  When passing a group of people at a bus stop, I holler an aptly timed Hyaw! while speeding by.
(Also, harnessing momentum could be my most important lesson of the winter.)

When I first arrived back in the Peg, I wiped out because I forgot that we sand our roads in the winter & don't clean them for the rest of the year.  The first time I wiped out in the winter was because of bad roads.

Today, I fell in traffic.  Capital B Bad.  This is exactly what the fear is!
I've been sensitive to Magellan's boundaries thus far, but today is particularly icy.  I'm still riding on regular tires.  So far, my fingers have remained crossed in my gloves.  Smartening up is a privilege.

I've got so many plans to act on, and a lot of preparation involved to make them happen.  Prep makes it a reality, which seems like the obvious choice when accomplishing the impossible!

I'm racked with hesitation to move forward, but momentum can only be gained with motion.  Action is the fun part, but prep is a key component that could otherwise get you (me) killed.
(Have I convinced myself enough?)

On the one hand, danger is part of the thrill. (?) On the other hand, NO IT'S NOT!  STOP BEING AN IDIOT & BUY SNOW TIRES!
Also, do all that other stuff you're looking forward to. :)


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