I blew a tire, some days ago. (So badly, not even The Goop could save it: in fact, The Goop oozed unpleasantly out through the gap at the base of the valve when I did change the tire.) And between not really finding the time to fix it and the hideous set of winter storms that descended on Ottawa, turning the streets into, alternately, epic giant Slushies or treacherous ice rinks, I spent a few days taking the bus.
And I was reminded, a couple of times, why I decided not to go back to riding the bus, three winters ago. Once, when I accidentally caught a 144 instead of a 114 and wound up in the furthermost bowels of southern suburban Ottawa, ending up about two hours late for a party. Once, when I was running a little late for my radio show, the bus I was hoping to catch didn't appear, and I spent a quite unpleasant thirty minutes playing the guessing game about whether to get off the bus and take my chances with finding a taxi, or to risk not making the next connection. Which bus to take, and what route my chances would be better with. Once, on Saturday night around midnight, when my feet were killing me after helping to run a fundraiser for about 7 hours, and my iPhone was telling me I'd missed the last direct bus home and would have to walk another 20 minutes or half an hour from Walkley Station, carrying a ballot box, in bad shoes. (I didn't miss the bus: turns out the OC Transpo website is no help for figuring out when the last buses are. Trust the posters in the stations. The posters are more or less accurate.)
But yesterday evening I replaced the tire. And today, I was reminded, not of why I stopped taking the bus, but why I didn't stop riding, three winters ago. I rolled the bike across the caked ice on my building's front step. I put it on the pavement in the driveway. I swung a leg up over, and pedaled off into the street.
What a wonderful feeling biking is. It becomes sort of second nature, so you don't really realize it, but when you stop to think about it, it's pretty damn cool. I've been running three days a week lately, and maybe that's also part of why it felt so good to get on the bike. When you run, there's that jolt as your feet hit the ground. You move forward only as fast as your legs can take you. I, personally, feel most of the time as though I'm lurching along when I run. On the bike, I could feel the amplification of the force from my legs driving the back wheel, floating me along. That comfortable circle of my feet on the pedals. Going faster than my feet could take me. I think I felt for a moment what the first 'wheelers' would have felt like: this machine is sheer magic.