Friday, July 13, 2012

Scolded By An English School Marm

Yesterday while riding in to work I found myself thinking just relax. Relax relax, don't push, take it easy. This has to be pounded into my head because I find myself fighting with Olivia.

That's not to say that my bike and I don't get along, it's just that we're getting used to each other. I'm pretty sure she finds me exasperating, the way I'm always pushing and trying so hard. It was a few days ago that I realized I was struggling like this unnecessarily - that no matter how hard I push, I can only make a few minutes' difference in my travel time. The Pashley has its own pace, and that's all there is to it. It's mostly a very agreeable pace and, as I've mentioned before, it's not a slow pace - it just feels slow to me. I guess because it's such a smooth and solid ride, and so effortless, that I can't imagine I'm going as fast as I did on Pepe.

With Pepe, I always felt like I was urging him on. Like the bike would only go fast if I pushed it to. The speed with Pepe was directly proportional to the effort I was expending. In contrast, Olivia goes just exactly the speed that she feels I should go, no more nor less, and she'll thank me very much not to think I'm in charge of everything.

Seriously, when I fight against the pace, it's like I can hear my bike talking to me. The voice I've given to her in my head is the same voice I conjure up when reading Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha, in the Jeeves books. (Jeeves, incidentally, is a great name for a bike. If you felt like keeping the bike impeccably clean and always feeling inferior to it, that is. But I digress.) I can just hear her saying things like, "Kindly do not treat me like horse, young lady!" And, when I find myself  pumping hard, hunched over, trying to beat a traffic light, I can clearly hear "Unseemly! Sit upright and stop sweating, you vulgar young chippy."

And so on. Olivia has no patience for my impatient ways, and so I've learned to go at her pace. Which I was going at anyway, I just kept fighting to go faster. Even though, with all that effort, I rarely if ever went faster on Pepe.

This is Olivia's kinda scene. (That is to say, all bucolic and shit.)
As we ride along the lake front path, it's like I can hear my mom hissing at me to sit up straight, young lady, shoulders back, chin up. And so I do relax my grip and stop mashing the pedals, and I suddenly feel absurdly proper and downright stately. And I must admit that Olivia is really on to something, because it all becomes terribly pleasant the moment I let her just do her thing without my attempts at interfering.  When I do it her way, I suddenly notice the breeze, and how pretty the light is on the water, and are those snapdragons over there, and isn't this just a lovely way to start and end a day... I just glide along feeling like the Queen Mother herself and resisting the urge to wave at my imaginary subjects.

It's pretty awesome, even if it does require lots of admonishments on Olivia's part. That's me, a headstrong young lass needing to be whipped into shape. By a bike.

(Let it never be said that my imagination gave out in my old age, people. The voices in my head are, as you can see, as alive as ever.)


Megan said...

So funny--that's exactly how I feel about riding the Yuba. Being so heavy, it has a ton of starting and stopping momentum. My wonky knee means I have to be especially careful not to "jump" on the pedal to start off from a light, because it doesn't make the bike go faster and just aggravates the old injury. I've noticed that if I just think of starting and accelerating as a gentle lurch, I can get going with a minimum of effort and injury.

Bikes really do seem to have their own preferred speeds. They're so funny that way!

Velotales said...

My Raleigh Tourist DL-1 technically has 3 speeds but really only one--slow. With its seriously useless rod-brakes this is a good thing. Truthfully, I love being a part of the slow bike movement (willingly or not) and have come to enjoy my commute all the more. I just have to budget more time.

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