On the saddle, and...into action!

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On the saddle, and...into action!
April 2016

The kickstand snaps up with a clap.
Lights, Camera, Action!
The film's about to start and I'm sitting comfortably in my front row seat.
I slide gracefully off the footpath onto the open road. And we're off.
Each smooth push of the pedal sends the film through my wheels as they spin round in a blur like movie reels.
At the end of the road, there's a building with the front door hanging wide open.
It looks like it's staring open-mouthed, surprised to see me. I know, it's been a while since I was last on a bike. But look what a beautiful day it is! I mean, it's so bright out.

I turn the corner and a reflection off a car windscreen brings me back to Earth.
Now the city's looking like one big second-hand car dealership.
I catch a glimpse of a man wearing a suit and tie talking to a younger guy. It looks like he's saying: "This one's got 110 horsepower. It goes from 0 to 60 in 7 seconds".
I, on the other hand, am in no rush. 
I go just as fast - or slow - as I want, I'm the one directing this film, the number of frames determined by how hard I push the pedals. 
Right or left? It doesn't matter. I'm not going anywhere in particular but I've already found my cruising speed. Just right. 
At this speed, the city doesn't look nearly as grey.
I see blues, yellows, oranges, in myriad shades. And green...so much more than I would've expected.
Jungle-like penthouses on almost every building, balconies teaming with plant life, surrounded by others defiantly sad and empty, a palm poking up behind a hedge, seeking out the sun.
Green. Back in the saddle, the film continues. 
I overtake people walking quickly because they feel like they're going too slow.
I overtake slow cars grumbling because they'd rather be racing down the road.
I've found my cruising speed. At this speed, the city looks just perfect.

A car pulling out of a parking space has me sounding my bell.
Among the clanking of trams, screeching of brakes and blaring of horns, its tinkle is the sweetest sound in the world to my ears. I decide to take the cycle path and it's like a red carpet has been laid out, just waiting for me to step onto it.
I pass people riding in the other direction and, not being au fait with bicycle etiquette, I give everyone a smile. They smile back. I'm already feeling like part of a family. 
The cycle lane is getting a bit monotonous, though: the city becomes muffled and I'm in danger of missing out on all it has to offer.
At the next junction, I hop pack onto the road.
I come across a busker in a cowboy hat playing country music and then twins on a tandem looking like artists on their way to a gallery opening in Soho.  
I've barely covered a few miles and yet I feel like I'm in a whole different world.
Another hundred spins of the wheel and I'm in Beijing. Restaurants, emporiums, almond-eyed kids speaking in a local dialect. Wow, will you look at that! I've certainly never seen graffiti in Chinese characters before.
I push on quietly, sneaking peeks this way and that, like a spectator waiting for the next scene.
I've lived in this city forever and here I am going through places I hardly knew existed.
And yet this is an area I know well. There's a bakery somewhere around here that I used to go to with my father. Who knows if it's still there. What's the time? Oh, what the heck...

With chocolate still smeared across my mouth, I head off home. And think.
I'm thinking that if the weather's nice next weekend, maybe I could cycle out into the countryside, following the blocks of flats as they gradually shed storeys and give way to houses, like steps leading down to the city's garden.
Or I could head into the city centre, where the roads get narrower and windier as the buildings gain beauty and history, get lost among the tourists and feel like a foreigner in my own city again...
But tomorrow's Monday and it's back to reality. 
You know what? I might just cycle to work.

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