A great night for riding a bicycle in Edmonton

It's the end of October, it's 3 degrees Celsius, it's raining, it's dark, the wind hits my wet face at about 15 km/h. A great night for riding a bicycle in Edmonton. 

Let me explain myself. 

Which is the point, actually. What I'm searching for is myself. For me, a bicycle has just been the most reliable interrogation device I have ever found. I keep running my questions through it. 

I am just back from a 50-minute pedal from the north side. My tan Levi's went from pencil points of rain to splotches to tiny islands of dry fabric. The new asphalt shone oily. The green and red traffic lights projected lightsabers. Car tires sloshed. My nose leaked. I wasn't exactly warm. I felt alive. 

Hannah Arendt wasn't talking about riding a bicycle, I get it. But, still: 

Vitality and liveliness can be conserved only to the extent that men are willing to take the burden, the toil and trouble of life, upon themselves, Arendt wrote in The Human Condition. 

The unexpected visit from Arendt as I pedalled into the harder rain on Ravine Drive brought the truth home: cycling is labor. Round and round to keep going. The feeling of elation is the payoff of the metabolism. The feeling is the bliss of being alive. Speaking again for me, it's the  joy of balance. Not just the simple balance of staying upright on a bicycle, but the balance, too, of labor and joy. It's an egalitarian equation: the person feeling the joy is the person doing the labor. 

A sedan slid by on the 142 Street bridge over MacKinnon Ravine. For a second I saw he glowing instrumentation panels inside. I looked down at my light, which illuminated  specks of rain. Tiny Orion's belts of light in the dark street sky below. Tiny messages of Morse code. 

The message that I hear is: the world of sensation and insight and crazy ideas and bliss is opened with a little labor. Out there in the cold and rain that are laboured through. 

I know that I couldn't get there without my bike. 


Popular posts from this blog


Some Late Thoughts Listening To Wheat Kings

Three Things from Edmonton - Episode 46: minding the gap, talking the talk, reading the room