A few years ago a friend casually asked me if I cycled. Little did I know that this simple question would be the catalyst for something far greater than I expected. You see, I hadn’t ridden a bike since some twenty years earlier when I lived in Berlin and took fancy to the many bike trails of that city’s famous forests. But since that time cycling hadn’t crossed my mind, that is, until the aforementioned question. It awakened memories of discovering new places and exercising in the open air. It made me realize that a whole new world awaits when the spinning of two wheels happens below one’s feet. And so off I went and bought a bike.
Three years have passed and that bike still goes strong. With worn tires and squeaky brakes, it rolls on trails both wide and narrow. It’s seen places too far to walk and not far enough to drive. It’s the medium between the here and there. In a city jammed with cars and swaying with people, it’s the opportunity to get lost without being told.
English author H.G. Wells (1866-1946) stated that “Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the human race.”
If old H.G. didn’t ride one, he certainly knew what it meant to. For cycling is more than a form of transportation of getting from point A to point B. It’s the embodiment of what it means to be human. From the physical to the mental to the spiritual, it draws upon every form of human energy. Whether climbing a hill, navigating a curve or savoring a view, the human experience is magnified in all its glory, exhilaration and stress. It yields the cyclist’s strength and demonstrates the cyclist’s weakness. For better or worse, it’s a ride into the depths of humanity.
And yet this is the alluring feature of cycling; like acceptance, it’s also a quest. But it not only seeks relevance, it’s also a quest to discover the confines of the human experience (see Acceptance: The Quest for Relevance….) With every pedal, with every breath, with every lean, the cyclist dives into a world of dynamics and probes boundaries. Time, speed and distance are its parameters, with heart rate and beats per minute its pulse. Measurements come fast and hurried, and the lure of betterment is never-ending.
It’s definitely addicting, but not in the usual way. Wherein addiction sneaks up without warning, cycling acts fast and open. The cyclist accepts and gladly so. It’s talked not in circles of chairs, but in type and quality of bike, in distances traveled and scenery witnessed. It’s a passion without parallel and stirs a continual longing for that ‘next’ ride. Elusive in nature, but always grasping, it never quite reaches. Perhaps it’s here that the allure to ride forms: one never quite knows what next to expect.
To the cyclist the world is another path to ride, another path to bear witness to the humanity that it is, and it’s always another chance to saddle up and take another spin.
And so the wheels turn…
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