I was handed this book when I was loafing around my favourite bike shop last Sunday, running a probing finger over my injured knee while keeping an wary eye out for a certain gormless kitten; and listening, I admit with some feigned contrition, to Mr. M grumbling about how my bike seemed fresh out of an oil-and-grime bath. It took me barely two minutes to go through the first piece, but when I had, I was smiling like a man who had just had a mystical revelation. I read it again, and again, and again. I caught myself memorising the passages, savouring the elegance of the images they conjured, and marveling at how they stirred the rider in me. Here was a man with passion, speaking to other men (and women) with passion, about how his heart lifts a little every time he swings his leg over his machine, “at a moment pregnant with possibility.”
So many possibilities… Indeed, so many possibilities.
“To set out on a bike is always to travel with the expectation of an encounter. We are not bound by the rules of public transport of politely pretending that our fellow passengers are invisible and that whatever temporary association binds us is purely a coincidence of direction and certainly not to be mistaken as a justification for social intercourse. Nor are we prisoners of the myth of invisibility of the private motorist, who feels impregnable in his (usually his) sound-system asociality, but is, in reality, a goldfish trapped in a bowl and a figure of pity and derision.”
James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 94-98). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.
“On a bike, stopped at a light, tourists ask us directions – because we know the topography of cities better than town planners, police officers and civil engineers. Better, even, than GoogleEarth, because we know contours and gradients too – we feel them in our legs.”
James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 98-100). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.
And boy, does it feel good!
“And every few weeks, I run into someone I know. We ride the next mile together, annoying drivers by riding two abreast while we chat. A happy accident, this brief convergence of busy lives.”
James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 101-103). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.
A smile, a nod, a wave, a shout in the middle of our intervals as we zip past a friend coming from the opposite direction… nothing like it, is there?
And then there’s this, meant especially for people like me who like their own company:
“But riding a bike is only incidentally social. Often, its finest hours are those spent alone, in that rare and desirable commodity of private communion with oneself: uncluttered by routine thought, just open to experience. It’s a gusty day, a sunny day; the leaves are turning, the blossom is coming out; a cold wind puts a ruddy burn on our cheeks, a summer breeze dries our perspiration. We experience the seasons, feel the weather in its fine detail of temperature, pressure, humidity, Beaufort scale, sun strength. Our senses are engaged, yet our minds set free to wander.”
James Randerson and Peter Walker (2012-08-13). Cyclebabble: Bloggers on biking (Kindle Locations 104-107). Guardian Books. Kindle Edition.
I ride out to train for races and rarely need to commute on a bike, but I feel you, Matt, I feel you. And damn, when would I write like you?
I will get on the rollers now. I missed my ride on account of an experiment today, and I must serve penance in my paincave.