Confessions of an Urban Cyclist: 004 - The River
Then they stood at the edge of a large river, enveloped by a thick fog hanging densely down to the surface of the water. It left a slight edge between the calmly rippling waves and this heavy grey blanket. They stared at it with intent, as if the more they stared, the more they could perhaps understand its significance. Maybe, just maybe, if they sat there long enough, gazing on in silence, it would reveal to them just how it is able to hang there, suspended in the air with such ease.
Outside it was red, orange, yellow, brown, green, grey, white. Grey. Misty. The air wrapped around them, billowing, like a scarf around a slim neck on a cold, windy day.
They had been cycling for a long while to get there. They journeyed up and down several hills, some straight and smooth paths, others windy and curved. At some point, she stuck her hands forward as if she could caress the black road between them and grasp it like one does piano keys. She could have felt the texture of the road and every bump on her skin if it were within her reach, but her pumping legs lead her vigorously forward and onwards. If she had had enough trust to let go of her handlebars for long enough, she might have been able to feel the heat emanating from the pavement. But she swerved and reached back towards equilibrium.
Standing on the waterside, they took a break, but they knew they still had further to go. Their ride would not end as of this point, but they had to move forward to go back home and continue on their way, no matter how spent they were already.
They caressed the sand on the beach with their shoes as they walked along the bank, and it hugged her back with a sense of belonging; ‘Your feet were made to fit into every part of me’ it said. ‘Glide on. Glide on. Give in. Feel how I am composed of tiny little parts of everything and everything is made of me. How I stick between your fingers and nails, how you will carry me home in the cracks at the bottom of your sneakers. You are me and I am you.
‘Feel each of my grains. You have much to learn, young one,’ it called.
It was still moist from the lapping impressions of the earlier morning tides, coarse and dark. It always dries, and it yet will always get washed over again, she thought. Soaked through each day like clockwork, and then dried with the sun and the air, repeating the cycle with the moon and the pull, regularly. Rise and fall, rise and fall. Like breath.
They stood at the edge of a large river. It seemed to expand further than their eyes could see; they couldn’t make out the details on the other side. Yet their shadows still stood, even through the fog. They knew it was a river, even if it looked more like a lake. They knew the other side was there somewhere, even if it was not visible to them then.
They never returned. Who knew if they would ever be able to see the other side even if they did.
They rode home, the gentle hum of their tires and tired eyes carrying them forward.
She watched her spokes extending outwards towards the rim in every direction, extending their hands forwards, yet away from each other. They support the rim, those spokes, and the rim pushes back into them. Without the spaces in between, the bike would surely wobble with the passing wind, butwithout the spokes, the wheel would be unsupported.
She looked to the sky and contemplated the singular flying hawk overhead, cutting through the fog.
Illustration: Justin Champagne