I am a creature of habit when it comes to cycling. The same routes, the same views, the same lanes, the same speeds, the same lycra. It is the comforts of familiarity (mostly) that leads me to be like this. That, and the pull of the past. These views, road signs, pub car parks and the patches of uneven tarmac, send me back, further and further back, to times when …. when I was damp and listless, my gears dry and irritable. Back then I spent the most part of most days in bed. If I turned to lie on my right side and let my eyes smear their blurry gaze in their direction, my view was of the top couple of storeys of a nearby block of flats.
There are places I ride to, ride through, where I remember how, all those years ago, I was adrift from my surroundings. I recall how, that first year (2002) my bike stayed in the shed for a whole year. As I ride past the fields, alongside country cottages shielding my eyes from the sun, I recall the motionlessness of that time. The sense of time slowing down, and the sameness of my diminished surroundings. In particular I can still clearly see the partly broken plastic tile on the bedroom ceiling that I had tried to dislodge when we had first moved in several years before, like an eye socket staring sightless down at me.
Sometimes I recall the years (2002 – 5 that I was too ill to work, or to do anything of great note, positively. I mean in the sense that I am not like that any longer – that all feels so long ago. Then there are other times when I think of those times, and other, more recent episodes of ill health, and I cannot help but think quite differently – how close beneath the surface such times are – able, at any moment to break the surface of the waters and spray me with hopelessness and apathy.
I May Live On
I may live on until
I long for this time
In which I am so unhappy,
And I remember it fondly.
Fujiwara No Kiyosuke (1104 – 1177)