Somewhere out Villeneuve way, there’s a little pull-out beside a fenced field populated by a couple of horses. In our little cycling community, this pit stop has come to be known as Pee-Horse Corner. We almost always stop at the pullout to say hello to the noble beasts and take a quick break. And to pee.
The correlation between this corner, horses, and peeing is not something we ever planned. It just kind of happened. The corner is a convenient halfway point on our usual northern loop, so it makes sense to stop thereabouts. But over time, somehow, I’ve become conditioned to associating horses at the corner with the act of urination—my own.
It’s become an almost Pavlovian response to these particular horses at this particular corner. When I see them, or anticipate seeing them, I inevitably need to pee, even if I just peed before I left the house or earlier in the ride.
I sometimes wonder what the horses think of all this. To be honest, they don’t seem to pay us much heed. The first few times we stopped there, the horses trotted over, perhaps expecting a treat. But now they know better. The horses ignore us, or so it seems; they give no indication that they even see us, though sometimes I think I can see one horsey eye looking askance at me, judging me. (Incidentally, I’ve never seen these horses pee.)
Have they been traumatized by us airing out our undercarriages whenever we stop there? Have they been made to feel somehow inadequate by comparison?
Have they learned to associate bicycles with urination? Do they make any distinction between the machine and the man riding it? As far as they’re concerned, it may well be the bicycle that’s peeing, marking out its territory like any old dog.
In the late nineteenth century, bicycles were heralded by many as a new, improved version of the horse. The Iron Steed, which required no food, water, or rest, was much heralded in the popular press. But this comparison was slightly skewed, for while the machines themselves can go without those things, the riders of them cannot. Bicycles may not have bladders, but bicyclists do.