09 June 2010

I Rode That Way Then Because This Is How I Ride Now

"Velouria" wrote about me and this blog on her "Lovely Bicycle!" blog.  

She made me blush.  I may not know much, but I know this:  The only thing better than a man who can make a woman blush is another woman who can make another woman blush!

Part of me wonders whether I deserve such a wonderful write-up. First of all, look at the photo at the top of her blog and the one at the top of this one.  Not only is she (or whoever took that photo) a better photographer than I'll ever be, she's also more beautiful and stylish.   Take a look another look at that photo:  Do you really think I can compete with that?

Also, look at the layout and design of Lovely Bicycle!  I wouldn't have a clue as to how to do anything like that. And, finally, read her writing and compare it to my ragged prose.

But, hey, what can I say?  I'll take the compliments.  Besides, she's right definitely right about the fact that I've experienced two completely different aspects of cycling, and I'm one of the very few people who's experienced both of them.  

The funny thing is that I was the "lycra-wearing, hard-training, fast-spinning, Alps-conquering roadie...named Nick" precisely because I wanted to be "the woman who cycles to work in a skirt and heels."  Or, more precisely, I was the hard-riding guy precisely because I always knew that, deep down, I was, and was meant to be, that woman cycling to work, to the marketplace and down a country lane to the sea.

So why did I live and cycle as I did?  Well, I have to admit, I enjoyed competitive riding, whether or not it was sanctioned in a race, and the camaraderie that accompanied and followed it.  But I now realize that I wanted to ride as hard and as long as I did because I had so much anger in me.  By now, you probably realize what forged much of that anger:  the cauldron of rage that roiled from the fires of my unfulfilled desire--to live as the woman that I always knew myself to be.

Some guys' worst nightmare is finding out that the girl for whom they've fallen was once a guy--and probably even more of a guy than any of them ever were!  Of course, I don't mean to make light of that:  Too many of us have been killed over that. But, it's hard not to see the irony in it, and to apply it to my cycling life:  What if some of those guys I used to ride with and against were to meet me today?  

Actually, one of those guys has.  And he's taken it very well.  He has an even stronger sense of himself than I ever imagined he did.  What am I saying?  Back in the day, I wasn't even thinking about whether he or anyone else was secure within his own skin.  There was simply no way I--as I was in those days-- could have thought about that. 

But as for the other guys...well, I'll tell you about one of them.  He would have utterly despised me, as I am now.  Or, at least, he would not have been seen with me, whether or not either of us was on a bike.  But I know for a fact that if no one else were watching, I am the very first person he would have come to, for love, advice or just about anything else.  He would have--if he were honest with himself--spent the night with me rather than with his wife or any girlfriend he ever had--or, for that matter, almost any other woman and absolutely any man.  He would have gone for rides with me for the same reasons he would have gone to museums, poetry readings and stores, and walked the streets of Paris, San Francisco, Rome and Boston with me.  

Actually, he wouldn't have done any of those things with me.  He did those things with me.  What's more, he did them with me, and in the presence of his wife and girlfriends.

By now, you've probably figured out who that man was.  Yes, he was me.  And he was who he was--including that "lycra-wearing, hard-training, fast-spinning, Alps-conquering roadie"--because he was me:  the "woman who cycles to work in skirts and heels."