A week or so back I was about a mile in to my trip home and I saw a green light ahead and stepped up the pace to a sprint. Since there is no bicycle lane (but five car lanes, go figure) I was in the middle of a lane but travelling with the cars.
I got through the light and was feeling very very decent and immediately after there is another light and it is also green and I start trying to get this one also and this amazing thing happened. I all of a sudden was pedaling crazy faster. In a short miracle-esque moment, for reasons I don't get at all, my middle-aged body found something much younger in itself and my sprint doubled and although I am now heading up hill I am passing all the cars to my left and by the time I was pedaling through the (still green) light I felt like I was flying, or maybe even gliding because I felt as if it was all easy, I felt as if I could have gone as fast as I wanted.
Then it ended, as suddenly as it had arrived, like a thief disappearing in the night and I was back to me and breathing really hard and the cars were again passing me as if I were just an ordinary bicyclist. But for a minute or two, I was not an ordinary bicyclist. And that minute or two was incredibly delicious.
Bob Dylan has this song I love, it's called "Let Me Die In My Footsteps." My favorite version is on disc one of the three disc bootleg series. He wrote it after seeing people digging massive underground bomb shelters for shelter in the event of a nuclear war. Lately I have been thinking of this song when people tell me that bicycling is too dangerous, or when I see another article of a person being killed or badly injured by a car while the driver walks away without consequences.
I want to take my chances out here, on my bicycle, because everything that matters to me is out here. The air that flows around me and smells of hot sun and white oleander and tall drying grasses. The little ground squirrels that I ride by camped out by the side of the road nibbling tender green shoots. The shadows that flicker through the trees. The big white egret that flies overhead and the circling hawks that scan for long legged rabbits. I love to see the same people pass me each day and they wave and smile and then go on to their own jobs or take the dog out for a walk.
Moments of flight are daily reminders that I cannot bear to lock myself away in a metal box from everything that matters to me, even if it is marginally safer in there.