Thursday, March 8, 2012

Siren Song: A March Ride

Today was the day, after a four month hiatus, to dust off the Giant Iguana, circa 1992 ...
... and go for a spin.

It was perfect.  Frost in the morning melted into mist before 10:00 a.m., and the thermometer climbed steadily until it almost hit 70 degrees.  The autumn leaves, which the city allows citizens to blow into bike lanes in the fall, were long gone. The sky was blue, the breeze light ...

Image source:

... and yet, it was HARD to get back into the saddle.  The damn car.  Its siren song called from the garage, so comfortable, so fun.  I love my car!  

The Siren, by John William Waterhouse (circa 1900),
depicted as a fish-chimera.

It was easy to procrastinate.  No, don't wanna ride in the morning; no, not ready at noon.  Finally, when the sun was past its zenith,  checked the tires, brushed off the cobwebs, tested the brakes, tightened up the helmet strap, and two-wheeled into the sun.  

So bittersweet this first ride of the season.  With gas now at almost $4.00 a gallon, you'd think our love affair with internal combustion would have cooled, maybe a tiny bit, but no, the cars are lined up, bumper to bumper, whooshing past my car-enfeebled body/bike, their windows clamped shut to the glorious day.

Image source:  Vincent Laforet for the NYT, 1/30/12
Luckily, the bike path by the river wasn't far ...

Image Source:
And the sidewalks there were busy with people like me, hungry for sun and fresh air, and maybe even for each other. 
Image source:  EDN,, 3/8/12,
Three small children hold hands and yell, "Bike! Bike! Look out!" run into the grass and laugh. A young woman in a plum-colored hat with a velvet ribbon, smiles in a way that calls for a smile back.  People flock to the bridges and gaze into water that is still opaque with spring runoff.  A cormorant dives, and comes up empty.  Beautiful.  

It's hard to shake off winter, the warm clothes, the blankets piled on at night, the wipers sliding over the windshield sighing hot tea, hot tea; but there is a whole world out there, just waiting.   

Leonardo da Vinci wrote, "The siren sings so sweetly that she lulls the mariners to sleep; then she climbs upon the ships and kills the sleeping mariners."  Plug my ears with beeswax! Tie me to the mast! The car might be a wonder of mythical proportions, but just get me over the hump, out on my bike for a trip or two, and I'll be back in two-wheeled balance again.

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