Thursday, October 14, 2004


It's been a gloriously velocipedal week, all spokes and derailleurs...The poor old Edinburgh Courier nine-speed has been lying, burst of back tyre, for almost six weeks, chained and so undesirable that alone out of the four bikes regularly left in its repository, it has remained unstolen.
I spent Sunday afternoon oiling, repairing, messing with inner tubes and generally fettling (including the repair of a bicycle pump) and then set off for the Aberdeen beach, which has been a destination every day so far this week. Somehow, just getting on the bike and pedalling makes me feel good...maybe it's a return to childhood, I don't know.
I've just finished re-reading Matt Seaton's wonderfully poignant book about cycling and the Big Nasties of life, The Escape Artist. Along with Tom Davies' criminally underrated Merlin the Magician and the Pacific Coast Highway, it continues to motivate and the diamond-framed bike a passport not just to physical fitness, but spiritual and philosophical insight, or even peace? Doesn't seem like it when some idiot taxi driver has just pulled out in front of you, but you learn, you keep learning. And my aluminium-framed, beautifully simple, rear-derailleur-only bike is, not to be too mawkish, a teacher: it instructs and reminds on the need for simple, human-centred, elegant design; to keep your equipment well-maintained; the need for physical and mental alertness; the inherent wrongness of our obsession with the internal combustion engine...and much else.
Last night, the smirry rain and cloud cleared around 5.30 pm, and as giant rollers came thundering in, a few brave surfers were caught in the twilit sunset down at the beach. I had a burger at the Inversnecky Cafe, then cycled up to Vue to see Collateral, a further instalment of Michael Mann's continuing love affair with the psychogeography of LA. Can you cycle in LA? Is it legal? As hilly as Aberdeen.
It's not as cold, anyway. But I can see the Beach Boulevard/ Venice Beach comparisons. Sort of.

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