Of all the analogs of movement that I find the most difficult to ignore, it’s the bicycle.
The bicycle has propelled me from hobby, to career, to lifestyle. It’s daunting to say that the machine has always been an inexorable part of my ontology, but it’s more difficult for me to name a passage of my life where it wasn’t. There have been times where I’ve felt a sort of guilt for this, moments of personal reflection where modern paradigms and conventions of employment impose their judgments on my psyche, feeding feral neuroses about climbing certain ladders and, as some may say, growing up.
Of course, there is an inherent innocence to its mechanism that yields itself to casual dismissal as a youthful plaything, a sort of modal cryogeny in the evolution of human movement. We have since distracted ourselves with lessons of combustion, the pornographic explosion of propulsion born of the lust between fire upon fuel. We’ve taken to the heavens with this power, moving through the boundless dimensions beyond our sphere, as far as we’ve dared to venture.
But there is yet a complexity to its iterations that demands the most celestial of adorations. Could the bicycle have taken us to the moon and back?
It did when I first learned to ride it, and every time I’ve ridden it since.
At its most rudimentary and elemental it can be described as circles that turn circles, that turn circles… a brilliant implementation of the most fundamental of physical principles; Cycles of cellular momentum that leverage and bend our own bodily redox into a slavery of angular velocity. A terrestrial lesson borrowed from sidereal principles, put into motion eras and eons before we found the corporeal cognizance to capture its essence in a mechanical system. Cosmos, turned common.
Of course, the wheel was invented ages ago, revealing its prowess as magistrate of leverage, cantilever, and commotion. But it took time, experience, and experimentation to establish its supreme reign over the kingdoms of friction and force. Eventually,through veritable revolutions of ratio and reduction, the modern bicycle was born. Man’s most perfect and personal transmission, powered by pistons of flesh and bone.
The contemporary cyclist has oft skewed this eloquence and economy of travel into timbres of status-riddled posturing… poses of accomplishment worn proudly like a badge of rank. It is confined inside this graduated caste- scored by spandex, Strava, and superlative parlance- that we work far too hard to occlude one simple truth of modern travel: It’s really fucking rad to get there under your own power.
Me? I still wear jeans. I don’t track miles. My bicycle was born a couple of years after me. Because it’s not about anything other than the feeling that you get when the road unfolds before you, a conduit to the core of where our anxious, electrical complexities unfurl and only one simple, empowered emotion remains. Delight.