Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve owned a tricycle or bicycle of some sort. Yes, really, I was born after the invention of the modern bicycle!
I’ve always been fascinated by them too. I appreciate what you can do with them. For the same energy expenditure, you can cycle several times further than you can walk or run. You can make short journeys quicker and cheaper than by car. No parking worries either! I can see more on a bike too. I’ve never be stuck in traffic on a bike!! That’s why the Police use them in built up areas. Oh and you don’t have to wait for them to arrive!
Yes you can get cold, wet, knocked off, sun-burnt and exhausted, but you can get killed in a car too! Hell. you can get hit crossing the road…..
When someone asks me why I cycle (and I don’t cycle all the time) I quote the following story:
A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and dismounted their bicycles, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”
The first student said, “It is the bicycle that is carrying the sack of potatoes. I am glad that my back has escaped the pain of bearing the weight”
The teacher was glad and said, “You are a smart boy. When you become old you will be saved of a hunch back unlike me.”
The second student had a different answer. “I love to have my eyes over the trees and the sprawling fields as I go riding,” he said. The teacher commented, “You have your eyes open and you see the world.”
The third student came up with yet a different answer and said, “When I ride I am content to chant ‘nam myoho renge kyo.'”
The teacher spoke these words of appreciation, “Your mind will roll with ease like a newly trued wheel.”
The fourth student said, “Riding my bicycle I live in perfect harmony of things.” The pleased teacher said, “You are actually riding the golden path of non-harming or non-violence.”
The fifth student said, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.”
The teacher walked up to him and sat at his feet and said, “I am your disciple!”
On a nice day, along a quiet country road or such, I feel full of joy on my bike. I can’t explain it, I have always felt this way. I feel truly alive.
The availability of affordable machines must have been incredibly liberating for many people. A good bike, well looked after could last a lifetime or more. My late aunt, who lived in Blackpool, would think nothing of cycling up to the Lake District and back for a picnic with friends. This was a journey of over 100 miles.
My late father-in-law and friends would often cycle through the New Forest to Christchurch, rent a rowing boat and row out into the harbour, just for a swim! Round trip 50-60 miles.
Neither of them were athletes, nor were their bikes anywhere near as lightweight and efficient as modern ones.
Put simply, if they didn’t cycle they didn’t get to go there. Once you build up a little fitness, it’s surprising how far you can ride if you take it steady….
Anyway, all this waxing lyrical about the joys of cycling is purely because of two things:
- the improvement in the Spring weather. At last! means I will get out on my bike more.
- I sold one of my two bicycles!!
This second point is highly significant. Keen cyclists, normally, only sell bicycles to buy another one! To enthusiasts, the ideal number of bikes is N+1, where N equals the number you already own!! This philosophy is also true with other things in life, I know.
I had, until today, a traditional Raleigh tourer made of Reynolds steel tubing…….(yawn?) a real versatile workhorse and a newer Boardman hybrid made of triple-butted aluminium alloy (lots of yawns?) with disc brakes and designed to speed around town on roads or good trails.
Well I decided that one of them need to go to raise money for ‘Peter’s New Lens Fund‘.
My wife, who could never understand the need for two bikes when you can only ride one at a time, is still in shock at this voluntary act! Brownie points for me?
Remember Elgar composed his music and Einstein thought through some amazing concepts while cycling……………..nothing on that scale happened for me yet.