Country Roads

The sound a rear derailleur makes as it shifts the chain from one cog to the next is hard to describe. It’s not quite a click. It’s too long of sound, and definitely too deep. It’s also not a grinding sound, it’s too smooth to be described as a grinding. And if your derailleur makes a grinding sound, it’s time to clean it. I would say that the sound a rear derailleur makes is a sort of clunk. But not quite a clunk regardless, the almost clunking sound is one of my favourite sounds. Specifically, as I shift up to a more difficult gear. Which I had just done.

The slight bend in the country road had just straightened out and I was now faced with a long open stretch of flat, empty rural highway. This was my favourite part of riding.

Other people I rode with loved the challenge of a good climb, the struggle to overcome the steep gradient and gravity and reach the top. Others loves the thrill of charging downhill. Shifting to the very top gear and squeezing their body against the top tube to become as aerodynamic as possible. As far as I was aware, I was the only one who enjoyed the endless straight flat road.

Im not sure why Im the only one, but I have theories. The appeal of the climb I think, is the obvious finish line. Getting to the top. Reaching that summit is the completion of the goal, the successful triumph over a great obstacle. For the downhill, it’s the thrill, the feeling of power as you watch the number on your garmin go from 28 kilometres an hour to a staggering 58. The almost effortless ability to continue to accelerate to speeds not seen on any other type of ride is without a doubt an incredibly satisfying experience.

I think the distaste for the flat road comes from the fact that both of these aspects that make the other two so enjoyable, are absent. There is no finish lone to push for. Accelerating isn’t easy, the numbers you see on the garmin are directly proportional to how hard you are working. It is you vs the road, no excuses, no motivation. Without the finish lie there is also no challenge, no goal.

Regardless, this was my favourite part. So, I took advantage of it.

Moving up the gears, I watched my speed climb from 27 to 32. I knew on this particular stretch I had about ten kilometres before the next bend in the road, so I resolved myself to twenty minutes of difficult work. There was no help, no tailwind, the road was perfectly flat, but that was good. This was how I measured myself.

I tried to enjoy the scenery, but at 32 kilomtres an hour the most I get is the road directly in front of me and flashes of green, brown, and yellow, as trees and tall grasses zip past me on either side. But I could see the sky.

It was cloudy, that wonderful deep grey and total coverage you could expect right before it rains. Which I expected it to. However, the sky was clear behind, and the world was lit up brilliantly. It was an interesting picture, the dark brooding clouds coupled with the bright lighting of a warm late day in may. To see the two combined together was almost paradoxical. But it was also incredibly beautiful.

I quickly glanced over my left shoulder to check for traffic, seeing nothing I focused forward again. I shifted my hands from the hoods and levers to the drops, getting my body a little bit closer to the top tube of my bike. With my slightly more streamlined position I watched with satisfaction as the speed on my garmin began to read 32.4 instead of 32.1, a small gain, but it felt good.

I moved the fingers on my right hand up to the brake lever, and I pushed the inner lever towards the centre of the bike, and that almost clunk sound repeated itself as I went up another gear.

I felt my cadence slow down a bit, but I also saw my speed climb to 33. My legs were starting to burn in this new gear, but with less than four kilometres to go, I was determined to maintain this speed until the turn. Following that turn, I knew I had about six kilometres of more open straight road.

When I got to that section, I would push myself, just as I did this section, and just as I would do every time I found myself alone, on an empty straight road.


On the Subject of Valentines Day

I think many people in my life would be surprised to know that I like Valentine’s day. Even this year. The reason it may come as a bit of a surprise is that on the surface I am an asshole, and deep down under that, I’m still an asshole. But a little further down from that, I’m a sucker for romance. Every lame cheesy romantic gesture that can be made, I love it. Flowers, tickets to Romeo and Juliet, the drive in, picnics in fields, I think it’s all great.

So, even though I will be spending tonight with a bottle of tequila, Netflix, and a bag of candy, while reeling from a very fresh broken heart and betrayal, I still like today. I still got a nice warm fuzzy feeling in my gut when my roommate surprised his girlfriend with dinner reservations for tonight. I smiled when my friend talked about the night she was going to spend with her boyfriend and the dinner he was going to cook her.

I like Valentine’s day.




It was a new feeling. Not the feeling of anger, that had been felt before, and not even a greater intensity of anger. No, this was a different kind of anger. Where before he had punched walls and thrown chairs, this was a calm anger. Despite the rage bubbling underneath, everything was calm and collected. His breathing was even, his heart rate no different than if he was reading a book by the fire. His hands maintained that steadiness, carefully groomed over years of writing, and drawing.
What was new was the blood. The phrase my blood boils flitted across his mind. It was accurate, he decided. There was a burning in his veins and arteries, that began at the centre of his chest and spread right to his toes and the crown of his head.
Their was a fine line between pleasurably warm, and uncomfortably hot, and his veins danced on this line. For a few seconds the heat was soothing, almost relaxing, the next it made his toes curl in discomfort.
He focused on his breathing next. It had continued at the steady in and out that one could expect from someone lying down. So he began to count his breaths. When he reached 10 he moved on to the next step.
He let his left eye slowly shut, focusing on the picture in his right.
He counted his breaths again. 10 once more.
He moved his finger from where it was resting on the cool aluminum half circle to just inside of it. He gently pushed his finger forward, and waited for the audible click.
When he heard the click he changed his breathing. No longer a steady in an out, but a mechanical in, hold, out, hold, and repeat. So he did.
And on this out, with the precision of years of practice, thousands of hours dedicated to mastering this one aspect, he let his breath out.
The moment his breath had left his body and his lungs were empty, he squeezed his finger back towards his palm.
With a crack that left his ears ringing, and a sharp kick to his shoulder, he watched the little dot of light trace its way through the sky for a brief second and a half.
Then with a puff of brown he watched the wooden board buckle and twist, and for a moment appear to be ready to fall over, but then right itself. All this, over a thousand metres away.
With his ears still ringing, and his limbs burning where he knew his blood flowed, he got up, and he left.
Still angry.