It’s easy to justify driving your car when you’re going to Costco to pick up a shipping container’s-worth of food and paper products. But I was just going to buy a little camera and decided to take my bicycle. I used to ride it daily, but it’s been moldering in the basement for a while. At the last minute Dave surprised me by offering to join me.
Our route took us along the Columbia River on a dedicated bike path. It was swell! It was grand! The temperature was mild, ospreys wheeled in the sky, herons struck picturesque poses along the shoreline, wishes were lavishly granted. I marveled once again at what a wonderful invention was the bicycle: with almost no effort at all, we were gliding along at a nice clip, with Mt. Hood smiling in the blue in front of us. We were strong! We were sailing! There was no limit to our powers! We rolled smugly through the acres of SUVs at the Costco parking lot and found, to our amazement, a bike rack right out front. It didn’t have a scratch on it. I bought my camera and we headed home.
Within a few blocks we were back on Marine Drive and nothing was right. We ran into something a lot like Shinola. We were pressing miserably into the wind, pedaling hard just to stay ahead of our own dark impulses. Here’s the thing. When the wind is at your back, you don’t even notice it. You think you have superpowers. But a headwind is debilitating. You’ll brave the rain; you understand the rain. You’re fine with pushing up a mountain; you understand a mountain. You expect to work harder when you’ve loaded up your saddlebags with heavy things. But you can’t see a headwind. You can only feel it, and it feels pervasive, and wrong, and deeply unfair.