I am reasonably confident few (if any) cycling commentaries have touched on this. But for you non users of ‘open air transport’, don’t worry, this is definitely ‘NOT ABOUT THE BIKE’.
Our senses serve us well. Even the loss (perceived loss?) of functionality of one or more simply opens the possibility for others to be developed, enabled, re-directed. Being someone who would be viewed as ‘functionally common'(all usual and known senses working), I can’t speak from a position of loss. But I do have a new appreciation of my olfactory abilities and what it has enabled me to experience.
As soon as I leave my front door in the morning my nasal passages are assailed with smells. Usually these come from cars, but not the vehicle itself – the occupants of these ‘particulate containers’ don’t seem to realise that if their window is down – particulates escape and if someone is outside the car in close proximity – they most definitely find their way to the nasal cavity and WHAM – there it is!
Perfume and aftershave dominate (fortunately), with cigarettes next on the list – and the occasional ‘other’ cigarette (bit of a worry when one of those tickles the nose – defensive riding for sure). Then there is the profoundly disgusting poo particulate stream – or the fart car. Of course you wind the window down – but just know it doesn’t always dissipate. Yesterday I followed a methane stream for about 1km (a good 2 and a bit minutes!). Forget diesel fumes, I would have happily sucked on the back of a bus it was that bad.
I also get familiar with the cities refuse cycles and general hygiene. There are some sections of town that are very…fishy. Following rubbish trucks is up there with fart cars. On the other hand there are times when I have been out training and the worst smell is cooked breakfasts – especially when all you have eaten is bananas and energy gels (flavoured snot – for those unfamiliar with these) but it does make me ride harder to get home and get some real food.
So there is the good and the bad but I do have a point – just wanted to fully engage your imagination… I can see the cringes from here.
Smell is a powerful memory trigger and I think we could use it more in our lives and well-being. Even the smell of fresh air on a cool morning, or freshly cut grass (sorry allergy sufferers) connect us with nature and ourselves.
Get out there and smell the roses – REALLY smell them, smile and be glad they are all sweet.