Dublin has made me a cyclist. Living in a suburb and unable to endure crowded buses with fogged up windows during rush hour does that to a body. I’m also skint most of the time and a bike saves a hell of a lot of money. However, these are all material concerns and this ode to my bicycle is also about its spiritual effects.
Where to begin? I bought a grey-blue second-hand man’s bicycle with an intriguing gear system from the brilliant Café Rothar on Dublin’s Fade Street in September. I stumbled upon the small shop while wandering aimlessly waiting for term to start. It took me about five minutes to invest. The people working there are great and have helped me out of many a dire strait.
That beat up old bike of unidentifiable origins has saved me. I have grown to love the commute in and out of the city at all hours of the day and night. I was a snob about the suburbs until I started cycling. I grew to appreciate their quaint gardens and deserted estates, but especially the bruised colours of the mountains in the distance, the violent orange sunset hovering beneath a lid of rain-swollen clouds.
I have become even more infatuated with the congested and bustling pot-holed streets of Dublin, the grandiose buildings and council houses, the blast of wind that hits you in the face when you cross one of the city’s many bridges and the slow river winding its away to the east and west. I love to travel from south to north and back again, from rim to rim of the Dublin bowl, a vast sky of scurrying clouds overhead.
Without that cheap piece of metal, I would be stuck and miserable. I would be unable to pretend I was in Eliot’s brother from E.T.’s gang of wayward youths. A bicycle teaches one about human behaviour, life and all that lies beyond and in between.