Gear Prudence: Probably 60 percent of my dreams are about bikes, but they’re always anxiety dreams straight out of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” My bike is stolen; my bike is broken and I can’t repair it; I can’t remember where I locked my bike; I’m trying and failing to pedal up a hill that’s way too steep; it’s raining and I keep crashing. In my waking life, I love riding my bike, so what gives?! —Bike All Day, Doomed Rest Evinces A Mighty Stress
Dear BADDREAMS: The dreaded bikemare has been known to bedevil even the most steadfast cyclist sleeper, but with such a high rate of recurrence you’re far exceeding your quota, especially given your professed love of bikes. It’s time to get inside your dreams and figure out what’s going on. (Cue Hans Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack.)
The ancients held that dreams were prophetic. And often, dreams contain visits from other-worldly beings—angels, saints, dead relatives, etc. Can you recall seeing a haloed dude nearby any of the times you’ve dreamed that your bike was broken? Or a dead great aunt watching you struggle up a hill? They could have a crucial message from the great beyond. (“HTFU,” says Saint Christopher). It doesn’t sound, though, like what’s coming to pass in your REM cycle is coming to pass while you really cycle. While GP can’t rule out prophecy, the evidence seems thin.
A more modern approach might be necessary. Freud would suggest that your bike anxieties are a manifestation of some deep psycho-sexual frustrations, where the bike represents your mother, the lock represents your mother, and the rain represents your mother. When you keep crashing, it’s just a series of Oedipus wrecks. This interpretation seems almost as dated as saintly clairvoyance, and while it does offer an explanation, it also suggests that there’s nothing you can do about it, other than maybe going on a bike ride with mommy dearest.
Perhaps these nightmares have no meaning at all. As the great philosopher-poet Nelly foretold, it was only just a dream.
Since there’s no way to prevent the dreams, what you’re really lacking is a positive spin on the situation. Fitful nights are bad, and many suggest that sleep is crucial to your overall health and well-being. But look on the bright side: By shoving all of your bike anxieties into your dreams, you’ve freed your waking hours from them, allowing you to enjoy bicycling while you’re actually bicycling. This is a gift and you should treasure it! If there’s no way to forestall bike stress, suffering it in illusory and fleeting dreams is far better than experiencing it on the road. —GP
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