03 April 2018

Introductions At The Beginning of A Season

When I first learned about Western Civilization (yes, with a capital C and capital W!*), I was taught about a period called the Dark Ages, which was in turn followed by the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  Everyone seemed to agree that the Dark Ages began when the Roman Empire fell (in the 5th Century C.E.) and ended more or less with the millenium, but there was more debate about the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Anyway, I grew up with an image of the Dark Ages as a defoliated, barren landscape broken up by patches of mud and huts from wattles made.  And in the late part of the Middle Ages, the brightening but still austere light of winter-turning-into-spring made the landscape all the more stark.

Years later, when I would first read The Canterbury Tales, I somehow pictured Chaucer writing in such an environment, just as the first buds of irises and crocuses and lilacs were peeking out of sinewy vines and weary earth.  

That landscape of my imagination came to life, more or less, on Saturday, when I went for a ride with Bill and his friend Cindy.  Not that the landscape was a bad thing:  When I ride, it's all good.  And they were fun to ride with.

Our spin took us, ultimately, to the ocean.  Along the way, just after we crossed over the Belt Parkway between the Queens neighborhoods of Ozone Park and Howard Beach, we encountered this entirely appropriate (for the season, but unlikely for the location) sign of the season:

I've ridden horses only a couple of times in my life. I would ride one again.  Even if I don't, though, I'm glad to see them--although I'm sure they'd rather not be fenced in.  Everything about them--their beauty, their movements and the aura they have--reminds me of what I love about cycling.  In fact, they embody, they are, the freedom I feel when I'm in the saddle, with two pedals at my feet and two wheels between me and the street (or ground).

They can skip with the wind.  We can glide with it.  They gallop over reeds and fields.  We pedal by them.  And we and they can trod or slosh through mud--or not.  Our reasons, of course, are different.  We didn't ride through this mud because, well, it wasn't all mud:

It was odd to see such a vista just within the limits of New York City, just before the Atlantic Beach Bridge.  Even when it's full of water, when the tide comes in, it seems almost out of place.  But exposed or submerged, wet or dry, with the tide in or out, it was exactly right for a day like Saturday.

Anyway, these very-early-spring days full of sun and wind--especially when they include rides to the sea--always seem like beginnings.  So, perhaps, it's appropriate that I was riding with a new friend in Bill and I may have made another in Cindy.

And, like the ride I took two weeks ago, I introduced a new bike.  Well, all right, Dee-Lilah, my Mercian Vincitore Special, is indeed a brand-new bike.  But on Saturday, I rode another Mercian that looks brand-new.  

I am talking about Tosca, my fixed-gear bike.  A while back, I sent her to Mercian for repairs and refinishing.  She finally got to see the light of an American day again.

She may have a new look. But she rides like an old friend, only better!  I'll write more about her soon.

N.B.  All of the photos in this post--except for the one of me and Bill--were taken by Bill.  That photo came from Cindy.


  1. The last horse I rode was in nearby New Jersey, near a vineyard and farm, his name was Maestro, and he was super responsive, I didn't need to pull on his reigns much at all ... or maybe he just knew the route well. Before that, the last time may have been on a pony, around a circle, when I was 6 or 7 :)

    Fun ride, next time Point Lookout!