Pedaling a bad day away

It was one of those days when nothing seemed to be going right.

The banality of work.

Politics.

The uncalled-for cacophony within the cramped walls and cubicles of the office floor.

The insult to my intelligence and the dynamite to personal relationships that is the Philippine presidential electoral campaign.

The oppression of being forced to watch and listen to a bad TV sitcom, without being able to switch channels or turn it off.

All that negative energy and helplessness had crept in as poison. I needed to be rid of it.

In the final hours of the day, I pull over in an empty parking lot and kill my car’s engine. I break out my bike, slapping on its front wheel, and clamping on its quick release skewer. Squeeze the tires for air pressure and the brake levers for deceleration. All its lights go on.

 

Helmet in place, I slide on the saddle, clip into the pedals, and go.

In the dark of night, with the summer heat largely absent, my legs mash away one stroke after another in silence.

All I hear are the rustling of the wind past my ears, the wheels crashing into the ruts of the asphalt, the rattling of the chain as I summon cogs.

With 1200 lumens burning away, my front light illuminates all the road acne in front of me. Any oncoming cars behold the strong white light, warning of a rider hurtling their way at the same speed they run along these quiet, narrow roads. They give way and leave enough room, as they should.

I see a patrolling security guard astride a cruiser bike. As I approach from his left, I greet “good evening” as I pass by.

Hands on the drops. I stand up out of the saddle and sprint. The cyclocomputer glows green, its speed reading growing. The bike dances from side to side underneath me every time one of my legs straightens out.

The intersection looms. I hook my fingers around my brake levers, get into attack position, and pull. Speed scrubs off, until I slowly roll up to the junction. Look left, look right. No need to unclip and put my foot down, so I turn and mash away again.

I return to the parking lot. It had been four laps. I am sweaty. I am “tired”. It is the good kind of “tired”. I feel it in my legs and lungs.

And yet, I feel refreshed. Reinvigorated, and now free from the toxicity of the day, I feel alive.

For half an hour, riding in the wind, all is right with the world again.

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