Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tell Me What You Know

I know something of my reasons for getting a scooter. I suspected, and so far it's proving true, that the scooter would have a different pace than what I experience while walking or riding a bicycle. On the flat land the equation is a simple one, perhaps twice as fast as walking, quite probably twice as fun. The muscles used are different. I am trying to develop rhythm in my kicks, in how I switch off which leg is doing the pushing. I have already learned that it is not the kicking leg that tires, it is the one on the scooter deck that bends, the one that says to the other leg "hey pal, get up here and do some work."

I am beginning to build an ability to glide, to coast, to flex my foot in the kick off, to hold momentum as I switch legs. I am learning something which perhaps someday will be grace. Today it is something less, but I am out and rolling in the world.

Hemingway wrote this about a bicycle, but it is most certainly true of a scooter: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” This truth is sharper on a scooter, the smaller the wheel the greater attention one pays to the lay of the land. I kick up the shallow climbs and if it's too steep then walking is the winning move. With a scooter the transition from rolling slowly to walking is instantaneous and shameless, it is the wisdom of the moment. Similarly, the most subtle dip down is celebrated with a joyful leap onto the deck, both legs resting, the soul free to soar.

When the slope down is greater still, a bargain must be struck. How much control does one have, when does thrill pass to fear, how much faith can we place in the smoothness of the path, the efficacy of a rear fender that is also something of a brake? Like the apocryphal Campy Delta Brake, loved by some and hated by many, "It is not for stopping, it is for modulating velocity." Too much mountain, the mountain I walked up with scooter in hand, can not be safely fed back to the scooter through the wheels. The fender is pressed to the wheel, repeatedly, urgently. Feet drag, speed bleeds. Better to lose speed than skin. I am still learning just how much caution and control I need.

In the level places and the gently sloping ones I'm more apt to stop for moments to gather the gifts of what is noticed more. The green of the moss. The art that is intended and improvised.

The mist hangs on the mountains, the water shines the road. I travel balanced between effort and relaxation, speed and slow study.

There are signs pointing the way home and signs that don't know what to make of me.

Perhaps someday I'll flow more like the creek. Here I'll meander, flowing slowly in the gentle places and learning to speed in the steeper places.

Tell me what you know. I know only that I am learning yet another way of rolling. I have very much left to discover.
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