The pause that doesn’t refresh

14 12 2015

Cycling is a multi-sensory experience.

Riding along busy roads, sharing space with traffic, demands your full engagement.

Your ears pick up the buzz of approaching cars and trucks.

Your hands feel the textures of the road surface, which at this time of year, seems mostly to consist of a whole lot of grit and grime. Your face stings from the cool air, the occasional raindrop. Your leg muscles burn with the off-season effort.

Your eyes linger on the landscape that slips by slowly, noticing things you’d otherwise miss zipping by in a car; the heron hanging out in a muddy puddle in the midst of a barren field, the odd deposit of what looks like refuse from a Mexcian restaurant that appears regularly along a favourite route.

Your tongue tingles with the taste of indulgences allowed because you’re burning calories on the bike; the tart pucker of a lemon square at the coffee shop, the sweet softness that floats in your mouth of a pain au chocolat.

But nothing can prepare you for the olfactory assault of riding alongside rural farm ditches filled with runoff from two days of heavy rain.

The pause that does anything but refresh, alongside a dung-filled ditch in Richmond. P.U. (And yes, that is a fender you see besmirching the lithe figure of the Lapierre; I ported it off my mountain bike to see if it helped keep myself and the bike a little cleaner given the damp, dirty roads. It didn't.)

The pause that does anything but refresh, alongside a dung-filled ditch in Richmond. P.U. (And yes, that is a fender you see besmirching the lithe figure of the Lapierre; I ported it off my mountain bike to see if it helped keep myself and the bike a little cleaner given the damp, dirty roads. It didn’t.)

Motorists whizzing past, cocooned in the environmental pods of their vehicles, likely had no idea of our suffering.

For three or four kilometres on our rainy ride this morning, the acrid smell of an open sewer was our constant companion. The weekend’s rain had washed manure fertilizer from the fallow fields into the roadside sloughs, turning them a sludgy, putrid brown.

The smell certainly quickened our pace; no one wants to hang around that for long. Even the ducks we’d seen sheltering in those ditches last week had moved on to cleaner environs.

It also sparked some nasty mind games; what if a car or truck passed too close and sent one or both of us careening over the grassy shoulder and down into the ditch? Forever unclean…

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