I know this sounds like an urban twenty-something cliché, but a bike can be so much more than just transport.
Defiance, Ohio sang “even Columbus looks better from the back seat of a bike, as my fears get swept away in a stream of blinking lights”. And I’ve had those moments, when you get on a bike feeling down, or stressed, or anxious, and then the feeling disappears, blown away with the wind on your face.
But equally important are those times when everything seems right, and you fly through the streets feeling like nothing could stop you and nothing could be better than right here, right now.
Like late at night when you’re the only one on the road, and everything has a tinge of orange from the streetlights. The atmosphere is electric, and you smile at everyone you go past because they seem like a comrade in the struggle to make more of our lives than the 9 to 5 routine we are given.
Or in the afternoon when you cruise around watching the sun set, in awe of the sky and feeling invincible. The other day I saw maybe the most stunning sky I have ever seen. It was completely red – closer to the horizon it was deep red with little ripples of clouds, it looked like a giant red sea. Higher in the sky the swirling red clouds looked like a massive bonfire.
As I rode from Woolloongabba to West End it would drop in and out of sight, sometimes obscured by big buildings. Every time it came back into vision my heart jumped a little bit. As I rode past people I would yell “look at the sky!” Sorry if you happen to be reading this now and I startled you.
Or just days before that, I rode to my friend’s house from Wil Wagner’s show in the city at a similar time. The sky maybe wasn’t quite as spectacular, but it’s never just about the specifics, and the overall feeling was a similar kind of euphoria.
One of the best things about Wil’s music is the general in-love-with-life-ness of it all – he doesn’t just “love” life, he is completely in love with it, with all the craziness, emotions and potential for heartbreak that comes with that, as he sings about love and friendship and places. That vibe makes his live shows special as well, as everyone shares the joy in those songs, at least while the music plays.
It’s so great seeing the music of Wil and the Smith Street Band get more and more popular, as more people find themselves resonating with those songs. The night before at his other show I had spoken to a group of guys and girls who had driven up to Brisbane from Casino just for the show. At the Saturday afternoon all-ages show they were there again, along with a bunch of teenagers singing along and asking to have their photo taken with Wil. I met two kids who took the two hour train ride from Nambour for the show, afterwards they had to rush off to get the train back.
Anyway, this wasn’t really meant to be about Wil’s music when I started writing it, but I wanted to say that as I left the show with all these excited kids and rode into the sunset, I felt like I was flying, high on the possibilities of life.
Maybe the whole bikes and sunsets thing is a metaphor to say that as we travel through life our surroundings on the journey matter as much as the destination, wherever that is. Maybe I’m just some weird guy getting excited by punk songs and screaming at the sky as I ride down Logan Rd. I was really just trying to capture some of the most joyous moments in life, the ones that seem to fall through the cracks when we try to recall the truly significant things. Anyway, I’ll keep riding around. Say hi if you see me.