Every time I turn, my bike makes these terrible sounds. Actually, now every time I get on my bike with my backpack tucked into the milk crate on my rear rack, it makes these terrible sounds. One of the screws that attaches the rack to the frame fell out (or, as I think in my more paranoid moments, was removed). I hate riding in the Alabama heat with my backpack on, so I searched through my bag looking for a stopgap. Perhaps a zip tie…? I used to keep them in my pack. You can fix ANYTHING with a zip tie!
I found a bobby pin, muttered to myself, “Welp, guess it’s time to macgyver this sumbitch,” and stuck the pin through the hole the rear rack and the corresponding hole in my bike frame, hoping the weight of the rack would hold the pin in place.
I am not Macgyver. This did not work. And I destroyed a bobby pin.
I just wore the backpack home.
This intimate geography, learned from the saddle, was a product of the bicycle itself. Cycling is a collaborative act, a meditative engagement with the world of material things, and riding a bike encourages you to build up a private map of the terrain you travel over. You learn what it’s like to ride down a particular road when wet (noting the placement of slippery drain covers that wait to catch you on sharp turns), or the specific sequence of traffic lights at a much-crossed junction. For drivers the road is merely, in Iain Sinclair’s words, that “dull silvertop that acts as a prophylactic between driver and landscape,” but for cyclists, like pedestrians, every road has a personality. Roads possess an enduring identity borne of their shape, and of what it’s like to ride them, and cycling allows you to feel their grain, to decipher their bumps and inclines as a single continuous experience.
Confessions of a Cycle Messenger, by Jon Day.