The Escape Machine

Today when lunch rolled around and I’d had my fill of corporate buzzwords, ‘make the logo bigger/bluer’ and flipping through 1,038 internet channels of everyone riding bikes across Estonia other than me, I did what I often do: I had a minor internal freakout, asked myself how I got here and what the hell I’m going to do to get out, and realized the only real answer was to go for a bike ride with no purpose or destination.

I find myself doing this far more frequently these days and thankfully, some years back I assembled a bike for just this purpose that lives in the basement of my building of employment. When the voices in my head build to a roar and my internal Captain sets a course straight for ‘fuck this shit’, I jump quickly to a firepole and descend 3 floors to where my steed awaits. Well, I don’t actually have a firepole, I have to use the stairs, but that firepole idea and imagery is just FANTASTIC.

The purpose-built bike waiting I have painstakingly cobbled in an effort to create the most simple bicycle I possibly could. It’s a beater frame, rescued from a dumpster and draped with all manner of parts-bin finds. If it had a gruppo it would be called DERELICTE. It has no gears, no brakes in the traditional sense, and absolutely no sex appeal, thus enabling me to leave it practically anywhere with minimal risk of theft. Any common street hood who jumped on it and make a speedy getaway would probably be immediately bucked to the pavement by the fixed gear drivetrain. It requires little-to-no maintenance, operates in any weather on any type of surface and requires zero special equipment or shoes to ride it. It doesn’t make a single sound when you ride it. It’s like the concept of motion manifest in an assemblage of steel, aluminum and rubber.

But so much more than an inanimate object, by animating it, I am freed from the bonds of work, office space, expectations, bills, email, recycled air, screen glare and incessant machine humming. I know there are studies and science that support and/or attempt to explain this phenomenon, but really, I don’t care why it happens, only that it does happen. Over the years I’ve tried various substances, meditation, inversion boots (well not really inversion boots, but I needed something else to make this list seem more extensive), witchcraft (again, embellishing) and even jazz (for real) and found nothing that soothes my inner-savage beast like a bike ride. For awhile I was hung up with requirements I placed on the distance or effort of these rides, but I’ve now realized that these metrics aren’t important. A 15minute destinationless, wandering loop at sightseeing speed can have the same effect as a 100km multi-hour epic. It is hard to remember that though, until you’re out, but once you’re out there’s no denying it. I’m sure the scientists will say it’s endorphins or pheromones or pherdorphins or whatever, I still just call it plain ol’ MOJO.

It’s so easy for us to get frustrated with our lives, jobs, people, karma, people who put long comma-separated lists in blog posts, the Universe. The Escape Machine humbles. The Escape Machine abides. As much as my job has lately been pushing my buttons and leaving me feeling less than inspired, I have to remind myself that at least I have the luxury of getting out, and the Magical Mojo Machine in the basement to escape with.

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