There can be no doubt, that ‘being’ on a bike brings benefits visible and obvious or unseen and felt (it can bring drawbacks too, but why get mired in negativity?). Often we’re too busy to notice. The dishes need doing. A pressing engagement overlooked. A key training session ahead. The report that wasn’t written. The strange procrastination of the perennial hard worker.
Last night, following a viewing of his film, Graeme Obree described the importance of the present and his desire to ‘be like a seagull’. No more shooting for the stars. Just being present, buoyed by winds and breezes, moving according to conditions, making it up on the move; just being in the here and the now.
Riding back from Chapter arts centre, we had the roads to ourselves. It was late, but not excessively so. Only one car involved itself in our journey and then at a respectful distance. Llandaff fields was lined with Cherry Blossom, a Japanese fascination that is easy to understand. Whilst clouds obscured the skies there was no wind, no noise. Just the steady whirring of chainsets (clanking, in my case) and the chatter of friends.
The last third of the journey was solo. I heard the Taff quietly minding its own business. I was buzzed by a pipistrelle, erratic and blind in its aural universe. Emerging from the park the Victorian railway bridge clattered and shook as a train passed overhead. I’ve never sat in a tin shack during a hurricane, but I imagine the sound is much the same.
However it wasn’t rivers, trains or bats that brought me to a halt. I was arrested by the sight of yet another cherry blossom, incongruously sprouting in the most urban of positions. Its branches had extended, its blossoms were opening and gradually it embraced the street light, splaying sodium in all directions. The perfectly still evening presented this scene to a lucky audience of one. In a few weeks those perfect blossoms will be swept away by wind, rain and machine.
Obree is right. Like life more generally, to get the most out of ‘being’ on a bike, you have to first ‘be’ in the present. The dishes, the engagement, the training session and the report can all wait.
‘Battle Mountain’, the story of Graeme Obree’s world record HPV attempt is on general release now.