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How a small, scared decision can turn your bikelife around

So, as I mad-max cycle it through traffic, swivel head trying to keep on top of all the comings and goings (and there are many, many), it occurs to me that this event: riding a bike: is one which links me to so many others. The small decision to ride a bike (in Bangkok, in traffic) wasn't that small. It almost didn't get made at all.

a cyclist rides in traffic

The mechanics

seriously funny guys

handed me an old hustle of a red bike

and off I went

like it was no big deal

like I hadn't walked home in shame months earlier

like I knew what I was doing

Fake til make still works sometimes.

As it happened, that day I was wrestling with a deep sense of not-belong, of always-away. And the moment I sailed into the chaos of Bangkok traffic, it was some kind of homecoming. My body knew what to do. Life long hypervigilance for danger has it's applications sometimes. Being a passenger on hundreds of motorcycle taxis (no helmet, ever, and the friendly relentless jostle of all those vehicles and none of that space) has sunk in a few lessons such as this:

1. Being 'part of' means taking risks. No-one will turn you away - but you have to make your own space.

2. Usually there are people ahead who will clear a way for you in some sense, or even, (as happened one day) say something like 'come with me', while they ride slowly alongside through a particularly gnarly intersection. How kind and unexpected that was.

3. There is a secret code among those in the know and the only way to get it is by doing it. My time connecting to people is quantifiably increased simply by riding a bike. We nod, we smile, we have eachothers back.

For me, right now, the day begins and ends on a bike. It's such a simple, joyful thing. I connect, I breathe, I observe, I sweat, I am part of. For those minutes, I know what I'm doing and I belong.

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