Those of us who cycle as our default means of transport are sometimes faced with an interesting contradiction: having to pedal to a destination at which we desperately do not wish to arrive.
I do not mean the ordinary unpleasantness of cycling to a job we hate, or to unwanted commitments. When it comes to those, cycling usually serves to improve the experience, to relieve some of the anxiety from such everyday drudgeries.
But occasionally in life we are faced with destinations which we dread with every fibre of our being. We might cycle to a risky or painful medical procedure. To a funeral. To a legal proceeding. To a job from which we know we are about to get fired. We might cycle to receive news which we know in advance will almost certainly not to be good news.
When faced with a journey to such a destination, I experience the conflicting sensation of both wanting and not wanting to turn the pedals - of enjoying the cycling experience in spite of everything, while knowing that with every pedal stroke I propel myself toward the place I do not want to be, the thing I do not want to experience, the news I do not want to receive. In this manner, joy and apprehension are combined into a single, tangled emotion that none of the languages I know have a word for.
In a car or on a bus, the same trip is somehow more congruent. An unpleasant - or at least a neutral - way to travel seems more consistent with a destination we dread, more appropriate for it. But cycling is one of life's few pleasures. It's a refuge. Pedaling toward something horrible just feels wrong somehow, a betrayal of our beloved activity. Might some of the trip's anxiety rub off on the cycling experience itself?
Then again, there comes a point, where pedaling everywhere - and that means everywhere - is simply all we know. And whether that means heading somewhere we want to go, or straight into mouth of the beast, for better or worse cycling is the way forward.