Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Ride Home

After a bit of a struggle to get my large cruiser bicycle out the back room of the office where I had parked it upon my return from lunch, through the oaken front doors and onto the veranda, I lift its lightweight aluminium frame down the steps and settle the Fat Frank balloon tyres onto the cement, pointing the mechanical missile towards the Town Hall and the path that will lead me home after another day at the office.

From the elevation of the bottom step, I easily twist myself onto the saddle, grip the handles, prepare the pedals for departure, and then I am off! The air is fresh, the skies are cloudy and I am glad to have worn a sweater. The slight decline in the road as I pass under the railway overpass permits me to gather some speed, but not for long, as I must begin the uphill climb that first takes me across the Maclan Bridge where the water stretches north and south on either side, then the road rises in front of the Judge's mansion along the River, then steeper still towards the Doctor's house, before rounding the corner and declining once again towards St. Paul's Church and Rectory. There are young boys at the intersection milling about a basketball stand, and their sharp glances tell me that they clearly notice the unusual bike as I sail by. I wonder to myself whether I must look like some old fogey, dressed in business clothes, on a weird and ancient looking bike (though in fact it is brand new); or whether they are jealous (as males so often are) of the singularity of my possession.

No time to linger, however, as the ground begins to fall away rapidly, and I pick up speed for the loop towards the River, then swinging wide and acrobatically up the side street towards the Hospital in the distance. I feel the cool air over my hands and face, pushing my hair back, as I glide onward through the open spaces that surround the Hospital. On the perimeter of the grounds, I am slowed down by taking a bumpy off-road passage through a small fallow field that leads me back to the residential streets. But then it's smooth riding again, as I whiz and dodge through a gaggle of boys playing street hockey, uttering a bland "G'Day!" to them as I pass by. The final stretch is all downhill. I tap the gears one after another to maximize the speed, until at last I am coming in for a landing in the driveway, my spaceship noiselessly settling into its parking bay in the garage, like something out of Star Wars.

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