One with the bike

After cycling every day for a month, there's so many things I wish I could convey to others about cycling, and touring in particular. But words don't convey anything, the only way to understand is to do it yourself.

  • That feeling when you approach a minor hill at speed and manage to use your power to get up it without shifting down.
  • The satisfaction when you've been going up, down, up, down all day, slowly climbing, and finally at the end of the day it turns into a windless downhill just when the sun breaks through the clouds.
  • That moment when you reach a conbini after a huge hill, sweaty and tired, and everybody just looks at you in wonder, and you're just too tired to even care.
  • The feel of the bike when you're nearing a traffic light, and the weight of the trucks has made the asphalt stand up on the edge of the road, and you zigzag on and off it to feel how high it is to decide which side you should be on.
  • Pulling up to a traffic light and trying to time it just right so that you don't have to come to a complete stop before the light turns green again.
  • The smug satisfaction that comes from overtaking the same car/truck several times when there's several traffic lights in a row.
  • The 'brace yourself' moment when it's a windy day on a narrow road and an oncoming truck passes you at great speed, the gust of wind nearly knocking you over.
  • The reverse moment when the road is wide enough for a truck going in the same direction to pass you at speed and you try to catch as much of its wake as you can.
  • When you seat yourself firmly in the saddle after a lunch break and realize that your butt doesn't hurt because you've gotten used to your bike.
  • Quickly reaching under your saddle to turn on your rear light when approaching a tunnel.
  • Awkwardly reaching under your saddle for five seconds to turn off your rear light after a tunnel.
  • When it's actually quite cold and windy but your cycling efforts are exactly enough to keep you warm.
  • When there's rubble on the road and you know exactly which bits not to hit and zigzag around them with perfect timing and confidence.
  • Checking behind you to see if your luggage is still there, after every minor bump.
  • Slightly jumping up and down on the saddle while looking down at your rear tire to see if it might have gotten softer, after every minor bunp.
  • That downhill moment on a relatively quiet road when your speed and concentration suddenly increases and you start taking a wider line to ensure that you have enough space to maneuver safely in case of an emergency stop or evade.
  • The nod you give to a truck driver for making a very polite pass. You'll never know if he saw it.
  • The fifth time you hear a truck rapidly approaching behind you on a narrow road, and you decide to take a very wide line to prevent him from passing because the previous four trucks cut you off rather dangerously.
  • The scenery when you decide not to take a tunnel for a change, and the side road turns out to be beautiful and quiet.
  • The feeling of being rescued when you're near the end of your strength and switch from progress mode to search mode, and happen to find the perfect restaurant/conbini/camp site.
  • And my favorite one: the feeling of the warm wind blowing on your face after a huge descent from chilly cold temperatures into a warm summer breeze.

You must cycle.

Posted in Cycling , Spirit of Japan 2 , Thoughts