Cycling behind my husband in this clear and sharp arctic sunlight, I have caught myself fixating on his beautiful new roadbike. The metallic greens and blues of the "Donegal" paintjob shimmer alluringly, accentuated by the outward flicks of the seat and chain stays. As the sunlight catches one curve, then another, I see bursts of olive, turquoise, emerald, sapphire, sage. With a playful randomness, they light up like fireflies or bits of scattered seaglass.
As I pedal and stare at his bicycle frame, mesmerised, I become aware of a feeling I do not want to have but can't suppress: I am envious! Genuinely, childishly envious of another person's bicycle. Because it's prettier than my own. More colourful. Sparklier... Ack!
Of all the emotions on the spectrum, I very seldom experience jealousy or envy. And so in those rare times that I do, I find it disturbing and feel the need to confess it immediately.
"I'm jealous of your bike!" I say, with a wistfulness he cannot help but laugh at.
"It is so beautiful!"
I proceed to tell him about the colours, to describe the way it catches the light. He is grinning, enjoying such ludicrously poetic appreciation of his new machine.
"That is lovely," he says, "tell me more! I have no idea what this bicycle looks like beneath me, you know - it's you who gets to stare at it and enjoy that custom paintjob. I only ride it!"
When the truth of this hits, I almost feel sorry for him. And my envy at once disappears. It is true that we seldom look at our own bicycles. When we ride, our view is really limited to the handlebars and a few other bits of the "cockpit." Instead, we spend much more time looking at the bikes of our cycling companions as they pedal beside or in front of us.
Ergo... instead of fretting over what our own bicycle looks like, it makes more sense - for our aesthetic quality of life, as it were - to ensure that our friends ride beautiful bikes.
And should you meet a cyclist whose fanciful machine eclipses the beauty of your own, don't be envious. Instead join them on a long bike ride on a clear day - and enjoy the view!