Friday, October 31, 2014

Wheels, Sing Me a Song

As I pedaled my bicycle back and forth to work this week my wheels sang a hollow tune. It came out of nowhere, once again, like a warm breath of contentment. The next day the rolling song disappeared. It's a phenomena that I first noticed a few years back, front wheel (as near as I can detect) emanating a steady hum and—as close as I can describe—sounding like a cross between a hot air balloon's engine blast and a purring cat.

Singing with me through Autumn.
I mentally tried to decipher it's cause. Did the sound emanate from a particular bike, tire pressure, tread, tire width, recently greased bearings, type of rack, panniers, gravel or pavement, wind direction, weather? However, after a few years, my sleuthing abilities came up short. There was no determining factors that accounted for the noise (I'm pretty proud of that fact that I keep my drive-train fairly clean and attend to annoying rattles)—in fact the resonance occurs on all my bikes, with the exception that it happens more often on my Trek Antelope.

A painted scene in the waning October light. A horizontal cloud streaks
above Mount Mansfield's summit.
I also pondered the possibility that the hollow melody was always there. Perhaps a quiet mind and environment opened my eyes. However, I don't think that's true. Cycling for me sparks reverie and creativity like nothing else can. Surely, I would have noticed the beautiful sound long before now.

Sunset glows highlight the remaining color like nothing else can.
It's been a breathtaking week.
And so, with a wistful longing I've finished another year of bike commuting to my countryside office. For the next few months I'll drive and watch out for brave souls who pedal through darkness at 5 o'clock. I'll still ride my bike on weekends—nothing, short of ice, snow, and below zero temperatures (okay, maybe 10 F) can stop me. The depths of winter is still far off. Until then, I'll be listening for the peaceful sound in my wheels. It's time to quit analyzing and just enjoy the journey. That's what the noise means to me now: contentment, acceptance, and a smooth running bicycle.

Wheels, sing me a song.

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