One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

17th March

"Ah, le BMX - trop frais!"

That's what I heard the teenager say as I rode past him soon after taking this photo.

Later on, passing through the courtyard of my friends building, I greeted one of the elderly residents in the typical fashion.

"Bonsoir Madame", I offered.

"Mmm, il est beau," she replied, decidedly not referring to me, but rather to the bike by my side.

In both cases I thought the courageous response might be to say something like "The bike? Yes, I stole it!" But for different reasons each time, I decided that this would be sending the wrong message. Instead I just smiled at them and hoped that my eyes would betray the whole story.

Was it just the fact that they were seeing a grown man on a BMX that made them say something? Granted, its not such a common sight, but still, two comments during a 15 minute first test run - it struck me as a little odd. I ride around this city almost every day on a 'normal' bike and no one has ever made a comment like that before.

I had put some air in the back tyre and fixed up the brakes, but I couldn't find the oil so the rusted chain still needed attention. There were at times some alarming clunks emanating from the crank housing, but despite these minor problems, the bike felt good under my feet. The smooth sensation of lightness was in no doubt aided by the fact that I was riding without gloves through one of the first evenings of the season that might be described as warm. But could there have been something else at play?

This bike which had been held motionless for so long was now suddenly careening through a balmy pre-spring evening in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It seemed that not even a rusty chain or a clunky crank housing could dampen its spirits. Maybe the teenager, the old lady and myself were sensing something else, somehow picking up on the bike's difficult history, somehow receptive to the feeling it was trying to express.

After 4 years in captivity: freedom at last.