Hot Day #3: Road Rage & Recognition

Weather in Sydney right now is fairly extreme for a so called “temperate” zone. Days of 35+ degrees, nights remaining above 25, houses that barely insulate against variation. We are also getting some classic afternoon storms.

I have started riding my bike again. I like to Instagram a picture of my riding in the more extreme weather and comment on my feelings because it is so full on being exposed on a hot road on a hot day on a little bike.

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This first photo is one I took when I was about to ride up a long hill into the afternoon heat, pulling my toddler in a trailer.

As well as taking photographs, I also have quite particular thoughts while riding my bike in the heat.

Thought 1) No driver has the right to road rage towards a cyclist when they are riding in heat over 30 degrees Celsius. I am pushing my own body weight up a hill, they are riding around using dead dinosaurs for fuel in air conditioned comfort. The anger feels very particular. I feel it in my gut only. I want to be angry, but my body physically cannot process the anger because I need my energy to cycle.

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I took this photo a day after a car just like this (but without the bumper sticker) zoomed past me while going up hill. A day later I saw the above car parked on the roadside and I was reminded of the incident. Then I reflected on the bumper sticker. It suggested that I needed to free my mind from the residual rage that was churning inside regarding yesterday’s incident. And I thought, “what BS”. Although I am a mindfulness practitioner, even I don’t buy this in all contexts. It is important to be able to be angry when anger is required. I should have flipped that car a bird!

Thought 2) The physical effort of recognising Donald Trump as President—a man like him holding so much power—seems almost impossible when I am riding in the heat. I cannot generate even enough energy to acknowledge the fact of, let alone be enraged by, Trump and his entourage of Apprentices while riding in the heat. When I am absorbed by the heat it is as if this new global reality were unreal. Riding in the heat is therefore pleasant as it takes me away.

Thought 3) Someone took a picture of my butt yesterday afternoon while I was riding up Illawarra Road. They held their phone out the window of the car and slowed down as they passed. I am sure any other day that same car would likely have zoomed by scarily. I am pretty sure I have a sort of nice butt. I caught up to the car at the lights and I heard the man say “Here she comes”, as if they were waiting for my butt to finally make it to the top of the hill so they could have another look. Or maybe hoping to get a rise out of me? I had the perfect opportunity to yell at them. But it was a hot day, and my capacity for road rage was muted by the need to have energy reserves to cycle home with my son. So I just ruminated on it all afternoon. It was 30+ degrees, they were in a car, their gender politics seemed about as advanced as Trumps (i.e. not very) and I was riding my bike uphill in the afternoon. This should have been peak rage. And yet, I needed my energy to keep peddling.

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This is a photo of my face, not my butt. I took it when I was caught in a massive rainstorm. When I got home I was completely drenched down to my undies. Cycling makes you relate to the weather differently, without a doubt.

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