Cycling to and from work has become rather mundane. There are only so many routes to take. In general I have 3 that I stick to. The long route is, as the name implies, longer but flatter and runs mostly along the river and canal. This is the route that I generally take. The wind is generally at my back, from the west in the morning, and not too strong in the afternoon. Along this route I get to see the kids going to school, the swans and ducks on the canal, and cycle through the college campus. The steep route is, as its name implies, steep. It traverses the steepest hill in the area and makes for a hard morning ride as the bottom of the hill is only 100 meters or so from the front door, so not a lot of time to get warmed up before I am huffing and puffing up the hill. This route is nice when the wind is blowing out of the south, or when I am a bit late as it is much shorter, and once over the hill mostly down to work. What it makes up for in speed it lacks in view and vista — save for the top of the hill on the way home. The middle passage winds between the two and provides the best shelter from the wind on the way home. But with the middling hill it is only worthwhile on very windy days. This route takes me down one of those roads that is so narrow that the buses stop to let each other pass, and like the steep route, it lacks the view and vista of the long route.
Mixed in with all the common sights and smells there is, on occasion, something that leaps to the forefront. The other morning, while toodling down a side road I was struck by the scent of a turf fire; a scent that reinforced the feeling that fall was here. A few days later it was the scent of a wood fire. The other day, while riding home in the rain, there was a small white swan feather floating in the canal. Just the white feather floating peacefully on the grey raindrop-pitted water.
Speaking of riding home in the rain, I recently was reintroduced to that sickening feeling of the bicycle’s rear wheel sliding away. In an off camber corner after a light rain, the rear tyre broke lose and all I could do was utter a single multisyllabic curse word before I was roughly introduced to the tarmac. I slid a bit, but it being wet and my being fully clothed due to the weather I only received a slight abrasion and contusion to my right elbow, a weak contusion to my left palm, and drastic injury to my pride and ego. And while they say “pride goest before the fall” mine “wentest” during the fall. What was there to do, but pick myself up off the ground, thank all of those who asked about my welfare and unknowingly contributed to my increasing embarrassment, get the handlebars back facing forward, and continue my cycle journey home. For as I noted in The Nature of Adventure, for me adventure arises from willingness to make the attempt and the acceptance of any defeat with good humor.
But that was then and this is now and more adventure awaits…