I'm finally starting to get settled into my new life as an Oxford student (though since school doesn't start for another week and a half, perhaps my confidence is a bit premature). I've taken my first ambles around the city, bought my first groceries and living supplies (though realized too late that we have to provide our own flatware in my dorm's kitchenette so had to eat my pasta straight out of the pot last night), and had my first meet ups with folks I know in the area.
The most exciting development, though, happened yesterday when I went to pick up Marcel from the bike shop where I'd dropped him to get assembled. After a quick seat adjustment (as the folks at the bike shop assumed that I was around 6'3" when they reset the seat for me--something I can't blame them for as my frame is indeed massive and probably designed for someone around that height), I set off on my first bike ride on British soil.
As I rode, something rather amazing happened. All the worries and stresses of the past few weeks, the anxieties of settling into a new country and sadness of leaving an old one, melted quietly away. I started out slowly (as I fully admit that I'm a total coward in traffic and the road was initially quite busy) but as I left Oxford behind I picked up speed. As I hummed easily over the earth, thrilling in the svelte power of my wonderful bicycle as it carried me further out into the countryside than I've ever gone before, I was overwhelmed with a sense of openness and space quite disconnected to the landscape around me.
I felt free. It was the closest feeling to riding I've ever had, and in this tough week where I'm facing the reality that riding isn't going to be a part of my everyday life anymore and am finding myself in an environment that is so closed up and jammed compared to anything I've been experiencing home on the farm, it was a feeling I desperately needed.
(Chilling for a photo on top of Cumnor Hill)