It’s all a matter of harmony. Some things you can do are in tune and some are not. Bungee jumping is not exactly a seamless transition to playing chess. Butchering meat is not exactly in sympathetic harmony with flower arranging. And so it is with riding a bicycle and driving a car. These things are not the same; not on the same page, not a part of the same story. We can do both, but we would not, if you really think about it, regard cars and bicycles as two manifestations of the same thing.
And what thing, exactly, is it that these two things not the same thing as?
Here’s the crux of my philosophical ponderings of late. Here’s the crux of the argument that bicycles and bicycling are substitutes for raping the earth by car. I’ve come to realise that cycling and motoring by car are not substitutes, after all. As close as these things get to being substitutes is the fact that when you are riding a bike, you are not driving a car. But then again, when you are sweating away in a stinking gymnasium, you are also not (hopefully) driving a car. We don’t suggest that riding the gymnasium fixed bike is a substitute for travel by car, do we?
No. Cycling and cars are not one thing as opposed to the other. Here’s the crux of the argument: when you ditch a car and ride a bike instead, you are not travelling by two wheels instead of four. No, you have transcended the bloat gloat of coffin box asphyxiation with the joyous cultural transcendence of travelling by bicycle instead! There’s some cultural transformation that goes on when you move from one mode to the other.
Actually, I think it’s wrong minded to think that cycling is a substitute for travelling by car. The danger is that when you propose such things, the car folk kind of expect that cycling is just an alternative mode of transportation. It’s not. So, when you try to convince then to transport themselves by bicycle instead of a car, they soon discover the realities of exercise. And that discovery is probably something they’ve not experienced before… So, when they discover bicycling, they discover their physicality as well. But that’s not all! They discover that journey’s can be fun. That travelling slow is a concept that only makes sense from the context of a car. When you travel by bike, speed is the speed you do. When you travel by car, speed is what you want most to end the trauma of travelling by car! When you travel by car, you want to get somewhere. Getting somewhere is what you are focused on when you travel by car. Whereas, when you ride your focus is on the journey. It’s the experience of travel that matters now. And what a metaphor for life that really is!
Yes, cycling is in tune with the glories of life. The journey is the only game that matters. Our ultimate destination is, after all, death. And who wants to reach that final terminus before our time; or, really, to focus our lives on the ultimate destination of our ultimate departure!
No, dear reader, the journey’s the thing. And cycling is an instrument through which to enjoy the trip. Cars are tools through which we detour the rich rewards of a life lived well.
But! And this one has always been a challenge. What if we could combine the necessities of travel with the joys of riding a bike? That’s a two-for-one deal that would seem to be rather attractive in these days when all things, otherwise, are all about putting life on hold while we get on with the business of money. Some of us are so devoted that that purpose that by the time our pile is big enough, we sadly find that life is something that’s passed us by. Enjoy the journey… That’s the more important task.
But! if we were wanting to replace the transportation functions of cars with the joys of travelling by two wheels, some of us might find that we end up time warped out of the frenzied stream where everyone else seems intent to play. If we want to keep pace while living a life for the journey that life provides, we can either try to persuade everyone else to slow down (a terribly good idea), pedal really fast (terrific if you are training for sprints) or, and here is the point, buy a motorcycle to augment the bicycle we’d use when our pace is more our own.
A bicycle and a motorcycle are, unlike cars and bicycles, two versions of the same thing. Bicycles and motorcycles are on the same page. They are in tune. The motorcycle, as I said at the top of this diatribe, amplifies the sensations delivered raw by a bicycle. There’s two part harmony going on here. I have a proposition. If you love cycling, I think you’d also love motorcycling. If you love motorcycling, I suspect you’d love cycling too.*
If you want proof of my curious contention, try this. I faced this dilemma myself. Consider this two-cornered contest. Consider this contest of ultimate statements of two-wheeled choice. Consider this cage match of blissed-out delectation: the 2010 Pinarello Dogma (re-born for your devoted attentions via the latest and greatest manifestation of carbon strung to 60HM1K) vs. the 2010 Triumph Daytona 675! Two toys of (over-the-top) engineering perfection through which to fuel one’s two-wheeled addiction. Both have the same design brief: to proceed via the ultimate in two-wheeled efficiency to the highest possible passion of speed for the sake of speed rather than speed as the tool through which to get someplace. Two toys that cost almost precisely the same! Two toys that would satiate anyone’s techno-lust to precisely the same degree. Two toys that provide the same buzz, via tracking different lines on the same page of one glorious song sung in two part harmony.
One sings the tune in the treble clef and the other via the harmony of the bass. I think I will sell the house to indulge in both… but then I’d have no place to live.. Then again, it’s virtuous to avoid comsumerist addictions of this kind! So in virtue I will proceed along more modest lines. But then again, you can’t admire the alpine peaks of technical perfection if you never take your gaze above the plains wherein our attentions might otherwise perpetually reside.
*My argument applies above that level of destitution wherein some folks travel by clapped-out motorbike or steel pipe bike for reasons of a lost licence or some other fate related contrivance of penury that fits its victim to the ceiling of bikes supermarkets sell…