That Smell of Biking, and a Little Bit About Boxes

26 04 2008

Date: April 25, 2008


April Mileage: 94

Year to Date Mileage: 192

Temp/Weather: 40F, rainy

In My Mug: Rishi Tea Organic white tea Snow Buds (loose leaf)

I am sure that I am not the first person to experience this strange phenomenon. But I have noticed that since I have been spending less and less time in my car, my sense have started to become more acute, specifically my sense of smell. At first I thought I was just imagining it. But I can smell a wider range of scents, and detect subtle differences that I hadn’t noticed before.

For example, yesterday it was very windy, and we had a thunderstorm system moving in, but it was still almost 70F outside. This made it smell muggy, with a hint of hay/freshly mowed grass, and like slightly damp earth, and I swear I could pick up the smell of pollen on the breeze.

This morning it was drizzling outside, windy, and cool. It smelt like soggy earth (remember how I was talking about subtle differences?), rotting leaves, lakes, and wet bark.

I am surprised to find that no two days smell the same. Some days the wind is just right, and I can smell the slaughterhouses 20 miles away. There is always some new exciting smell on the breeze. This is neat to me. I never realized there could be so many diverse smells in the world. My favorite smells are the Puget Sound, pine forests, horses, and right before a midsummer thunderstorm when it’s about 85F outside with 90% humidity. It seems like all the aromas in the natural world are released just for my pleasure.

Along the same thread as scent, is sound. Did you know that robin birds are one of my favorite spring birds because they sing almost round the clock? I could hear them last night at 3:30 in the morning. I never bike with my iPod, for several reasons. Firstly, I want to make sure I can hear the traffic coming up behind me, secondly, I don’t need the distraction, and lastly, but equally importantly, I like to hear the world around me. My hearing really comes and goes thanks to a long series of ear infections that finally stopped when I had my wisdom teeth pulled; but when my hearing is good, I love to listen to all the birds outside. My day to day life is FULL of artificial and man-made sounds, why clutter up my free time with it when I don’t have to?

My bike makes a lot of sounds that would be alarming if I didn’t know they were normal sounds for her. These have become comforting sounds on my commute. Heavy breathing going up hill, big catch-up sighs as I coast down hills, the whirring of rubber on pavement, the clicking of coasting wheels, the gentle whir of chain on gears, the creaking of my handlebars as I strain against them going up steep hills. These have come to represent happy sounds for me. I look forward to this silent conversation that my bike (her name is Vinny, by the way) and I have on a daily basis. Vinny, my friend, my confidant, my lover, my equalizer, my challenge.

I always felt forced trying to come up with a relationship and name for my car. She is just an old lady in my mind, nameless, faceless, and looking at the end of her life. She has never had the character that my bike has. I think cars are like that, though, just boxes, no character. My bike is like the box that has been given to a little kid. It has a personality, it is something, it’s a fort, a house, a something special that only my imagination can see. I like it that way. Vinny may be just a bike to other people that look at her, but when she and I are off on an adventure, she is more.




One response

26 04 2008

What a beautiful post. I was smelling the smells and hearing the sounds with you.


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