Some Brief Notes on Relatively in Urban Cycling

February 13, 2013 at 6:22 am

Astronauts in outer space experience time at a slower rate. When they return to earth, their watches are slightly behind because of the difference in the speed of time. Or something. I’m not sure. Look it up.

What I’m trying to say is that riding a different bicycle is like being in orbit. Time moves at a different pace. And I discovered recently that it also changes my mood and temperament as a cyclist.

Let me explain.

My buddy left his bike at my place for several weeks. Because I love bikes of all stripes (though some fiercely more than others), I rode his bike. A lot. It’s an old Trek 520 frame with riser handlebars. It looks like a beast, but it shifts and rides beautifully. On it, you sit lazily upright and survey the road like a trucker. Your feet appear to be way out in front of you. The pace is cooled, to say the least.

In any case, for the several weeks that I was riding the Feral Child (its name is another story), I was a different cyclist.  I believe that safe urban cycling necessitates a healthy dose of active defense (hard riding, aggressive decision making). But on the FC I settled into an entirely different pace. I let cyclists pass me,and I didn’t even care. My competitiveness waned.

It was an interesting experience, and one that allowed me to reflect on the act of cycling. It could be this other thing, a wide-eyed crawl through the city.

And then my buddy took his bike home. The next morning, I took out my IRO and immediately began to push. I rallied at the corners of the city, pushed my legs constantly past what was comfortable. I felt like I was tucked into a cockpit, arms forward, barreling towards the future.

It was good to be back.