Bicycle Meditation by John Beechem

The damn button popped off when I was putting it together, so now I have to use a paper clip to turn the light on.  I only got the light, an actual decent one at least, when I began biking home from work every night, and one night a jeep’s left turn into my lane would’ve flattened me if I hadn’t been paying attention and hit the brakes before he turned.  So now I have a blinking, white beam announcing my approach to any of the vehicles heading my way.  On an aesthetic level, I also appreciate the strobing light that bounces back to me from the green street signs.

So now I push my pedals hard to pick up a little speed, rushing past the parked cars on either side, the crankshaft and gears producing an arthritic creek as I strain them.  The hill starts to descend, and I slowly curve.  It’s this game I play with myself and my body—I brake as little as possible on my way down to see how fast I go without putting myself at risk for falling. 

I’ve fallen off my bike three times this past year.  Twice from mechanical failures (broken pedal, broken spoke), but once was because I wasn’t careful enough riding through gravel in a parking lot.  This has given me a dimension of caution that wasn’t there before. 

So I squeeze, ever so slightly, and thread around the sloping curve.  But all I want to do is let go, and glide the way I used to.