July 19, 2012

On yer bike!

At some point between stowing my bike and losing much of the feeling in my cheeks, I reviewed the blind spots in my life, as a young man verging on the edge of drunkenness is apt to do. Everyone has such spots -  not obvious shortcomings, but the hidden flaws and conspiring circumstances that duck under the radar, usually until it is too late.


“On yer bike,” the bartender hollered in the direction of this seemingly comatose fellow. The scuttered gent found his footing and wandered for the door.

“That guy’s not really going to try to ride a bicycle home, is he?”

This brought such a roar of laughter from the gang in our booth that you’d have thought I’d just goosed each and every one of them.

The expression had caught my attention several times already during my Irish jaunt, but alcohol and other lively conversation had distracted me from further investigation. I was certainly thrown by it, since none of them appeared to be avid cyclists.

“It’s a clever way of telling someone to get off their arse and on with their life,” Brian explained. “Out the yard, up your socks, on yer bike.”

On yer bike . . . it was the very battle cry I’d been reaching for these many miles in the saddle. My eyes practically filled with grateful tears as I hoisted my glass.

“Gentlemen, on yer bike!” I toasted.

While not moved to my level of emotion, these newfound friends looked plenty amused as our glasses touched. Clearly, I was the only one at the table for whom the phrase carried untold depth and weight. And in the sober and thankfully gray light of an Irish morning the day after, it had only grown more valid as an evocation, rite, fight song, and prayer. Not the sort of thing you’d expect a Tibetan monk to offer up as a mantra, but who would argue with the clarity and simple wisdom of “get off your arse and on with your life”?

Some days I have to coax it from myself as a whisper. Other times I belt it out so loud and strong along lonely stretches of road that quail are flushed from the bush. As long as it rings true, I’m sticking by this as my operating instructions.

On yer bike!

~ two passages from the book, Riding Outside The Lines by Joe Kurmaskie

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