Resting bike face

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You may be familiar with the phenomenon that is resting bitch face, whereby a certain number of females and males too (let’s not discriminate) are prone to the condition of a face that, when left to it’s own devices, expresses the wrath of an inner demon that thrives on kicking kittens, making their friends pay for everything and insulting disabled people.

This is no reflection on the owner of said face, as more often than not they are unaware of this portentous façade, which is why the evidence is only ever seen when the person is at rest and is not responding to the people around them.

Some say this may be a survival tactic that has evolved over hundreds of years to send a clear signal to anyone, that might want to engage in some light hearted chit-chat with a stranger, that this stranger would actually rather be left alone with their own thoughts/book/electronic gizmo/etc.

Some say this condition is actually symptomatic of those inner demons that reside within all of us and are merely pretending to be human whilst waiting for the moment to exorcise themselves of their host and take over the world.

Some say that as it takes more muscles to frown than to smile then resting bitch face is just a subconscious facial workout.

Whatever the reason behind the act, at least the condition has gained worldwide recognition. What may be less commonly known to you is the phenomenon that is resting bike face. It has come to my awareness that this is something that afflicts me.

From a distance on my bicycle I probably look like any other cyclist, well possibly slightly slower, more out of breath and marginally sweatier than other cyclists but you get the idea. However, if you were to take a nice photo of me cycling past and then zoom in on my precise facial expression you would notice that in fact my resting bike face is no laughing condition.

Unlike resting bitch face my facial expression whilst cycling does not so much suggest to the world that I am better left alone, so much as ‘if you don’t get out of my way I may actually bite off a limb and pick my teeth with your bones.’

Even though I am now conscious of the fact that my face has a tendency to scrunch up into something resembling a snarling paper ball I am still unable to stop the problem.

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I am probably more conscious of the issue since my Cambodian bike helmet, complete with snazzy visor, broke, thus leaving much more of my face exposed to the world than previously. Perhaps my face is just reacting badly to the removal of that flimsy plastic piece of social distance that used to be affixed to my head?

I have noticed that my resting bike grimace is intensified with the addition of the vacant gaze a dead fish would be proud of when cycling uphill becomes even less enjoyable than normal, with, say, the addition of a light snowy breeze blowing into my face or leg muscles that are valiantly trying not to crumble after I’ve overdone it at the gym and then decided to cycle home (in my head it makes a lot more sense).

Although at least under these conditions that zombie dead-eyed ravenous expression would probably make more sense to the average passer by than under pleasanter cycling conditions.

Whilst I am unable to control my two wheeled riding expression I am reasonably sure I don’t actually want to tear your head off with my teeth, but as this theory is untested it maybe best to stay out of my way if you see me pootling toward your, just to be on the safe side.

This wont be a problem as I tend to pedal at the pace of a sloth who has already put in their day’s work just by waking up in the morning, but you have been warned!

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Ten reasons to give up and go back to bed

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1. Your cat decided that she would prefer to do her business in the shower than in the cat litter box and consequently you are forced to clean cat poop out of the bath before you have even properly woken up.

2. You drop the razor in the recently cleaned shower and although it doesn’t actually do you any damage it scares the bejebus out of you and shakes you up for the rest of the day wondering how long it would be before your cat discovered you naked in the shower and bleeding from inexplicable razor wounds to the knees and ankles. You would hope your cat would not have returned to do her business once again.

3. You tried to get dressed for work opting for the nice skirt suit you had laid out the night before but, after putting on not one, not two but three pairs of tights that either already had holes or quickly gained some, you concede defeat and wear trousers.

4. Cycling to work, one of your comfortable shoes, that you specifically chose for being easy to ride in, falls off in the middle of the road and your pedal then viciously attacks the back of your ankle and makes it bleed.

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5. On arriving at work you remember that the document you have been furiously working on and took home to work on the previous night, remains lodged in the memory stick… at the back of the laptop…on your desk… at home.

6. You go to make a cup of tea at work and are upset that of the ten boxes of tea in the cupboard, these all turn out to be various herbal offerings including fennel and chamomile but all you want is just a normal cup of tea. You are forced to settle for an unsatisfactory green tea.

7. You manage to knock your unsatisfactory cup of green tea and it spills all over your phone, you are forced to spend some ten minutes frantically drying the device on your scarf as the nearest thing to hand and praying to the gods of technology that the essential device will survive the experience.

8. Your scarf, which was white, is now covered in unsatisfactory green tea and it’s cold in the office and you want to wear it rather than leaving it to soak in the work bathroom’s sink.

9. You realise you absolutely do not have time to attend the interesting work-related but not wholly essential meeting taking place that afternoon that you have been looking forward to for a week.

10. You heat up your homemade leftover-for-a-while soup at lunch to discover that contrary to previously held beliefs, yes, vegetable soup can go off after a week and taste very very bad. You try to eat it anyway.

The unexpected surprise of an early morning

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“Morning is wonderful. It’s only drawback is that is comes at such an inconvenient time of day.” – Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues

Generally I’m not a morning person and I usually like to start my weekends in a lazy fashion, with a bit of a lie-in and then lounging around over a leisurely breakfast watching some sort of trashy tv (and since Netflix is now available in Switzerland a whole new world of trashy options has been opened up for me – hellooo Gossip Girl!).

But this Sunday I had to come into work for an important meeting, which takes place every six months and always involves at least one day’s work over the weekend. This involves not only getting up earlier than I would usually do on a weekend but actually getting up earlier than I would usually do if I were going to work, which for a non-morning person comes as a bit of a shock.

So last Sunday morning my alarm went off far too early and I bumbled around the flat with bleary-eyes, trying to find my toothbrush (charging in the kitchen) and keys (eventually located in another work bag) so that I could actually get out of the flat, without having to climb out the window, with reasonably fresh breath.

Finally, I was ready to leave, but still in plenty of time despite the minor setbacks, as I got up extra extra early (for me). It’s an important meeting and I didn’t really want to leave anything to chance so I factored in time for the toothbrush tracking, key-locating and about 10 other potential mini-mishaps.

Venturing out of the flat I released my bike from it’s cave* to ride to work in the early morning light.

Riding my bike to work is one of my favourite moments of every working day. There is something incredibly liberating about riding a bike, especially when it comes with the added bonus of the smug awareness that it’ll get me to work faster than the bus.

Actually let me just amend that. There is something incredibly liberating about riding a bike in a bike-friendly city like Geneva, which has on the whole been a positive experience (aside from one minor, albeit expensive, brush in with the law for running a red light see ‘Daring to dare but don’t dare to run a red light’). Cycling in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was liberating but more in the sense of an almost-liberating-myself-from-the-land-of-the-living, dicing-with-death, experience navigating a treacherous path amongst trucks, jeeps and tuk-tuks loaded up with people and produce, who may or may not have been driving on their designated side of the road, if on the road at all. 

But riding to work on a Sunday morning in Geneva, with barely a whisper of traffic, was an entirely pleasurable experience. Whizzing through the almost deserted streets felt kind of magical. There is something rather wonderful in knowing that you are awake and active when most people aren’t. And being up and about, on my way to an important meeting, hours earlier than I would probably even have woken up under more typical Sunday circumstances, felt like something to be proud of in itself. It was an unexpectedly enchanting way to start the day.

When I was studying for my law diploma in London, exams would happen once every three months on a Saturday morning and every time I would experience this same strange sensation. The heart pumping from the adrenaline needed to accomplish an upcoming event (then the exams, Sunday pulling off the meeting without a hitch), added to the buzz of being almost alone in a normally busy town (and not just for the opportunity it afforded to pretend a zombie apocalypse is underway) topped off with the somewhat conceited self-satisfaction of knowing that by the time I’d normally be ready to face the world, I’ll already have achieved something.

I’d like to say that I’ll repeat the experience voluntarily by setting my alarm for 6am on Saturday to go for an early morning run and revive the mystical circumstances. But…But…But I don’t think you can force these things… and I wouldn’t want to disturb the cats…and I would probably do myself some sort of an injury setting off at that time. And any number of other excuses to explain the fact I just don’t want to.

Magical morning experience over mooching about until noon? I’ll take the mooching thanks. I already admitted I wasn’t a morning person.


* I really love that in Geneva cellars/garage/general storage-holes are referred to as caves.