Tuesday, August 16, 2005

What It's About

Three times in the last three months things have happened to me while riding that evoked an instantaneous, unthinking response so quick and concise I never experienced an adrenaline rush from them. It almost makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me.

The first was the man reading a newspaper in an oncoming 325i who pulled an abrupt left turn in front of me when the traffic light turned green. He must have been waiting until he finished his article before deciding to go; nothing else would quite explain his odd timing, waiting until I had claimed the bulk of the intersection as mine before he suddenly leapt across the lane. Oddly, there were two other bikes behind me, so perhaps our combined aspect simply befuddled him into incomprehension and he decided to abdicate our presence.

The other two occurrences were cars changing lanes into me from adjacent lanes; in both instances I simply powered around them and out of harm’s way without incident.

The first event I did not anticipate, in the sense of expecting it to happen (he didn’t do the usual trick of simply jumping the turn as soon as the light changed, but hesitated as though to lure me on) yet it did not come as a surprise; I responded to it appropriately and never got that tingling metallic taste in the back of my mouth.

The other two events I responded to as a fish in a school or a bird in a flock reacts when their companions move, and it was over before I knew it. None of the three cases provoked any kind of emotional response in me, no road rage, no interpersonal feeling or indignation or anger. I was in my medium, responding to just another variable in the environment, overlooking the careless human aspect of the transaction.

I was detached, dispassionate, disinterested—observing events from a safe remove, yet intimately integrated in the moment. As trite as it sounds, there was no division between me and the bike. Reaction, response, reflex all melded into a seamless whole. It seemed like all the important work was ably handled by my reptilian brain long before it got to the thinking parts.

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