Monday, 28 March 2011

Another one for my pile of Mostly Unlearned Life Lessons (MULL): don't cycle to concerts. The first time I cycled to a concert which was more than a few minutes away it was during my undergrad in Montreal, and I cycled to Lachine with my trombone. Of course, it started to rain, and I played Verdi's Requiem not only cold and wet, but as that particular bike had no mudguards, with a thick brown stripe running along my back from my neck to my buttocks. Yey for sitting down to play.

The next time was here in Basel, a beautiful sunny June day and I'd cleverly left my trombone there after the dress rehearsal the day before and biked around 50km over a mountain pass to get to a concert of Sch├╝tz. It was a lovely ride indeed, but I cannot remember being more exhausted by concert time, and I remember not enjoying it very much because of that.

Nevertheless, not long after I cycled to Marienstein, a monastery on a hilltop in the countryside near Basel, also on a lovely sunny day. This trip was quite successful - short enough that my breathing was very good and yet not too long that I was exhausted. Maybe this is why I still try. I do remember a frustrating moment, though, coming up to the bass of the hill and being passed by my colleagues in a car. I was the smug one of course, but at that point I did dearly want them to stop the car and put my trombone in the trunk (UK:boot), which they didn't. Suddenly this missed opportunity magically doubled the weight of my instrument as I proceeded up to the top...

Yesterday I left an hour earlier than I technically needed to to get to rehearsal on time, in Rheinfelden, 17 or 19 km from Basel depending which scenic route you take. I was slightly wary because I'd only repaired my bike the day before, plugging up an inner tube with rubber cement and tape which oddly seemed to work better than a patch kit. Just in case, I brought along lots more glue and other random bike tools, water, a banana, trombone, concert clothes, music stand etc. etc. etc. and we're off!

But when I lost my chain while gearing down to stop for the first time, I remembered that the limiters weren't in quite the right place. Do I have time to get off and adjust them? It's quite a flat ride and the front gears work fine, I just have to remember not to gear down so far in the back. I debated.

As I was debating, I came up on an intersection and instinctively geared down, at which point the gear shift went so far as to get caught in the spokes, tearing the back wheel off the bike and bending that crucial bit of frame that holds everything together. I managed to get off rather than be thrown off - yey! But big picture: Shiiitt! I stared the carnage of my back wheel. Ctrl+Z! Arghh! I didn't cry, but it's locked up now (I hope) where the incident happened and I'll bring it to a bike coop today where Nate will have a go at bending things back - I do hope it works!

Hands black from handling the chain, I considered myself very lucky that this had happened right beside a tram stop and hopped on, catching the next train to rehearsal. Thanks to my buffer time I wasn't late, but the grease never quite came off before the concert. Fortunately the audience doesn't see the palms of the trombonists in the back row.

The concert went quite well, if I may say. Tuba Mirum never fails to terrify me, but I found myself pleasantly amused at the fact that right before it started I was shaking like a leaf. I took great big breaths and it all went quite well. At the end of the concert, the tenor soloist (with whom I only get a very short duet) gave me his massive bouquet of yellow and orange flowers. They're very cheery in my living room now and the best thing is, I wouldn't have been able to bring them home if I'd been there by bike.

1 comment:

  1. Freudian slip (in written form) or subconscious pun, given the Tuba Mirum solo: "bass of the hill." :D

    I'll never understand the power of that solo to terrorize (and believe me, I share your fear). Brava. Wish I could have been there to hear it.

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