Have you ever had an ‘itchy feet’ bike ride? You know the one – when you’ve been stuck in the house all day – perhaps you’ve been busy from dawn till dusk, perhaps it’s been raining all day and come 11pm, the rain stops and the streets are empty?
Take last night for instance. I’d been flat out all day at work and all the while, the rain had pelted the roof and beaded the windows. ‘No chance of a ride today’ was my by subconscious refrain. The day ground on, dinnertime came and went, then a bit more work afterwards. The rain had stopped now but it was dark. It got to 11pm. I’d done all the work I could do. I opened the front door and stepped out for some air. Then an idea hit me. I looked back into the hallway and the bike was there as usual, ready to go, leaning against the stairs, glinting in the sodium light.
“Back in a minute” I said over my shoulder, as I grabbed my keys and wheeled the bike out of the door. The evening was warm, around 18 degrees, the air was still and the rain was gone, leaving clean, clear glistening streets. I was wearing a t shirt, 3/4s and sandals. I didn’t even grab by ‘paranoia bag’ (containing pump, multitools, etc). I just left, without a clue where I was going.
Equipped thusly, I cruised around the neighbourhood, negotiating the grid-iron of streets, never straying more than half a mile from my house, relishing the lack of cars, the warm, still air and the fizz of my tyres on the damp tarmac. It was one of those sublime, snatched-from-nowhere rides, no longer than 15 minutes, where everything seems effortless and you’re in tune with the bike and your environment.
I kept on riding, LEDs flashing against the parked cars and street signs, an imagined soundtrack playing in my head (don’t tell me that never happens to you when you’re riding) until my wheel tracks had knitted an intricate cat’s cradle across my neighbourhood. Then something told me it was time to return home. The itch had been scratched. I was refreshed and retuned.
Remember, no ride is too short or too late. Those snatched-from-the-nick-of-time, late-night bike rides are the best.
That night, I slept like a baby, dreaming of spinning wheels.