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Posts Tagged “Bicycism”

My morning holiday rides all pass a milk factory. And the cows that feed the factory. You can see it all over the space of a half hour flat spinning bumpy pot-holed meander of a ride. Happy cows wallowing in a supermarket of grass. The morning milking. And the busy hub of never ending big vat, stainless-steeled smoke stack puffing factory frenzy at the North Coast Dairy Cooperative. And then the tankers taking off to deliver bottles and cartons to a world that gives little thought to the cows that made its milk.

One of the dark, mysterious things that goes in in that factory is homogenisation. That’s the mechanical process of breaking up the fat or cream in the milk to spread it all around; to prevent the cream rising to the top like it does if you take your milk directly from a cow. I know this is true because my family drinks milk from our own cow. If you don’t stir the cream, all you get on your muesli is a massive dollop of cream. Cream does, indeed, rise to the top!

Which gets me to thinking. How poignant that society these days is powered by homogenised milk. Because homogenisation is the central meme of just about every aspect of life these days. We live in a world where cream is studiously and relentlessly prevented from rising to the top. And if it does, the machine managers of the world just skim it off and all the folk get is the white water that remains. The machinery of state seems intent on saving us all from the richness of a raw, unprocessed life; and feeding us just the thin watery remains. Policy and politics is the milk factory that homogenises society down into its uniformity of type; so much easier to manage us that way. Difference is too hard to handle. So skim it off. Smash up the cream and spread it all around. Welcome to the vat of modern life.

Take a look at what’s happening in our schools these days. Big Government is homogenising the curricula our kids receive. They learn what our masters want them to learn and avoid those raw unprocessed bits that make life interesting, if not more unruly. Just this week, the Australian Federal Government has opened the gates on its new Educational Homogenisation Plant. You can just see the factory stacks belching their steam of frenzied educational design. You can just see the bureaucrats round-tabling the bits that will go in and the bits that will be skimmed off. The juice that remains is the script to an ordered life of the politically correct. Our kids become widgets to be processed on a factory floor of learning managed with all the precision and direction of a Swiss railway line.

Yes, homogenisation is the deep political plan. Safe, uniform, boring, ordered and inane.

That’s one way to manage the unruly complexity of this world in which we live. We travel our delusions of calm around the trials and tribulations those rogue globules of fat would otherwise cause. Homogenisation frees us from the tyranny of difference. Smash and burn, crush and soothe the world back on the tracks of its homogenised rails.

The trouble is, of course, that cream is the place where most of the inspiration ferments. It’s the heady cloud from which innovation and the big steps of social progress are inspired. Difference elevates questions and inquiry. Difference makes the rest of us think. Difference provides the traction for us to escape from the bogs into which we’d otherwise slowly decay.

So what do we get when we devote too many resources to the technologies of homogenisation over the nurturing of free floating cream? A soulless, watery community of sheep; plugged into the canned conformity of nine-to-five, Mcdonalds and the homogenised religions of money and the automobile.

So what can we fatty globules of distinction do to escape the white watered milk baths to which most of us have succumbed? Be different, be distinctive and be brave. Ride a bicycle of course. Send your kids to a Steiner school. These are pretty impressive levers to pull. Basically, anything that confronts and confounds the machinery of state with spluttering indecision and an incapacity of response is the right thing to do. Keep those factories charged with the necessity to stay awake! Keep the sparks of creative tension tensioned over the big milk vats of State. That’s what keeps society alive.

Mine’s a potent yet mildly inoffensive anarchical push. Riding a bike is my active resistance of choice. It harms no one (except for those who should be harmed from their anti-cyclist rage) and adds layers of creamy possibilities to a life that would otherwise be squeezed and smashed under the tyranny of the Same. The more I ride, the more others might be so inspired. The more we ride, the bigger the challenge we provide to the homogenisation of Big Government’s watery community designs. Vive la Veloroucion!

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There’s one last outpost of the uncivilised world, largely untouched by the machine manicured perfections of the bureaucrat’s ordered vision. We, the cyclists of the world, are still, largely, free to do our thing. Isn’t it wonderful!

You can almost understand why we’ve been left to last. Consider the different kinds of cyclists out there. Granny coaster-riding her way to the shops with bagel basket attached, is a cyclist. That 10 year old wobbling down the cycling track oblivious to the wider world, is a cyclist. Mountain bikers are cyclists. Lance is a cyclist. Even Cadel… Tandem riders are cyclists. So are recumbents(!) Pork bellied dentists riding the latest and greatest from the artisans of Italy and France, are, it is rumoured, cyclists. I am a cyclist too! Even my mate who only ever gets as far as remembering the bike rusting away in his shed, is a cyclist (because he did indeed ride once). Yes, consider the diversity of machine and riders out there who fit the Bicyclism bill. Was there ever such a diversity in the world of cars? It’s a glorious, fabulous untamed chaos of diversity and confusion out there in the land of the pedal powered machine. A confusion that enrages the Lego Land, Swiss clock tick tock of the bureaucrat’s lab-white Matrix model of how the world should and must be.

How long can all this last? We live in a world where the only sign of economic growth is via the perpetual inflation of government bureaucracy. Every day, in every way, we get more and more policies and rules to bandaid us from the anarchy of our unruly policy-confused lives. Like birds need to build nests, bureaucrats need to layer the world with ever more rules. It’s what they do. It’s in their genes (or perhaps it’s the drugs in their OH&S triple-approved water coolers…).

The bureaucrats have to rake the policy compost of their nests. How else can they maintain control over all the other turkeys rooting about in peripheries of their territorial domain?

So, when more and more cyclists take to the roads (as oil runs out and the rules that govern the mobility of cars finally governs all that mobility away), what precisely do you think the bureaucrats are going to do?

They’ll be wanting to save us cyclists from the compounding anarchy of our under-governed confusions, that’s what.

We’re the last Great Promised Land of unclaimed policy paradise for them to explore. There’s a gold mine of policy claims to be staked. A new world of confusion for our bureaucrats to tame! You can see the excitement build. Restructuring plans to make, Departmental re-organisations, policy summits to attend! World fact finding missions to plan. Green Papers and then White Papers to write. Senate reviews, Commissions, Investigations, Policy Councils to set up. Endless fun. It’s Party Time! A cycling-led recovery for a bureaucracy that might otherwise have fallen asleep…

Clearly, when our bureaucrats turn their gaze in our direction, they will feel the urge to do what they have always done before; to do what it is that is in their genes to do: to reproduce a litany of categories, classes and schemas through which to manifest order onto the unruly chaos within which we have wallowed for too long. In a flash, they’ll be convening committee structures all over the land. They’ll be appointing Committee’s with chairs charged to tame this last vestige of free flying chaos. They’ll be charged to deliver a vision of groomed hierarchically ordered landscapes – tick boxed, cog-driven, procedurally accountable, results/outcomes directed … ‘transparent'(!) … audit-compliant pathways to bureaucratic heaven!

In no time soon, there will be categories within categories with manuals of glorious specifications a thousand pages thick through which to define which particular hole within which we each would then be deemed to fit.

In no time soon. I’d become a cyclist Class IV, Category II, Grade V, open-restricted. Log books required. Annually reviewed. Insurance Category 1006b, Annex 1a. All for the one low and terribly reasonable cost of $500 per year. Not including medical and mechanical certification tests, also required – enlightening our prospects for eternal safety for ever more! Hallelujah! Blessed be the enlightenment bestowed by our benefactors to rescue us from our chaotic untamed-policy wilderness…

As a Class IV, Category II, Grade V, open-restricted cycling person, I’d get a series of rights. Right’s I never had before if only because I was too ignorant to know that these are the things to which I should have aspired, instead of the simple crude pleasures of just going for a ride… Please see pages 1004-6009 of the Official Cycling Code book through which to familiarise myself with what I now can and cannot do. Ownership of said Code Book being compulsory. $910.95 please. Payable at any friendly Roads and Cycling Authority Office (please take a number and wait in the queue). Credit cards – or gold bullion – acceptable. A small inconvenience to pay for the enlightenment now bestowed! Ah Men; long may the bureaucracy live forever… and ever… in accordance with the doctrines of policies decreed. Blessed be the rule makers.

Yes. This new orderly world of manicured policies through which to govern us once wild anarchical cycling louts will sing the song of glory to our bureaucratic lords. A sight to behold and admire! The vision splendid for thousands of repurposed bureaucrats once so terrifyingly dispossessed when the oil ran out.

Yes, I can see the next great trend. I can see the day, aeons from now, when we cyclists will tire of having to ride behind displaced motorists charged to walk ahead, waving a red flag and flashing a red light, to warn pedestrians of the dangers we might represent. Then, I’ll guarantee, we will all turn the last vestige of our primeval unruly urges to that final challenge of walking. Then, in those final days, the bureaucrats will turn their gaze to the wild chaotic horrors of unmanaged feet.

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Is there anything on this earth more abjectly depressing than a bicycle built down to the price, standards and shelf life of a takeaway McHappy Meal?

It can’t be denied that there are, indeed, at least two classes of bike buyers out there. In the one camp are the enthusiasts. That would be anyone who reads this humble blog. In the other camp are what I would describe as the ‘Cycling McHappy Wheel’ tribe. They’re the mob who expect the world for the price of a bag of chips. They’re the mob taken in by expectations forged in the kiln of packaging and play school naivety.

The McHappy Wheel tribe are the vast majority of cycle-buyers. They’re the quickest to buy their way in and the first to loose interest; with the products of their ill-formed enthusiasms rusting in time with their short-fused persistence. These are the bicycles stowed, lost and forlorn in the shed, garden, basement or attic – or passed quickly on like some kind of virulent disease. Too crude, rude and unwieldy to use, these things blight any enthusiasm before the blessings of cycling ever get the chance to take hold.

I saw a sign! I heard the warning of danger to come. I read it first in the motorcycling press. Hate the subject or not, cycling and motorcycling are related by more than the number of the wheels they share. They’re two segments of a common front against cars. They are two segments of a common front of enthusiasm for wind-in-your-hair, braving the elements, asserted individuality that the car tribe will never comprehend. The McHappy Wheel virus has hit the motorcycling arm at gale force 10. Thus far, we cyclists are still sheltered behind the dunes.

Yes, we are seeing more and more China made bicycles out there. Yes, there have always been supermarket ‘drain pipe specials’ with all the grace and durability of a bag of soggy Happy Meal fries. Yes. But we have not seen anything yet. The cyclone is still offshore. It’s busy blighting our cousins in the petrol powered cycling domain.

Time to introduce the smirking devil we’re about the confront. The Chinese bicycle biz. This blight is as far from the history-forged cycling culture that stars the eyes of all those who truly know what it is to be, and to forever remain, a cyclist. The Chinese bicycle biz is only ever about making a buck. A quick, dirty, scruple free buck to be extracted from the loose change of those who have succumbed to the transfat-gorged fast food acculturation of the world. The Chinese bicycle biz can turn its talents with equal dedication and minimal re-tooling to the production of plastic spoons, nappy liners or red flags. It’s all the same thing to them. But for now, their focus is on the production of the most horrendous, vile, obscenely non-durable motorcycles the world has ever seen. And the great, tragically uninformed McHappy Moto-Wheelers are lapping it up.

There’s a few new games in town right now. Centre stage are the here-now-gone-tomorrow importers siren-songed into the Chinese tune of quick buck scalping busy selling ‘Flying Duck Happy Leaping Deer’ brand motorcycles to all those dumb enough to be seduced by prices way too good to be true. Even though that particular truth is the only truth the buyers are ever likely to find in transactions of that kind… The other game is the sheep-shuffle of embarrassed cringliness as the dudded McHappy Moto-Wheelers wheel their way into real dealers to get their junk fixed; once they find their 24 hour warranty has expired like the mobile phone number of the importers who’ve now so mysteriously vanished.

But what are we left with once all this dumping of Chinese cyclo-junk runs its inevitable course? No industry – that’s what! The masses have voted with their ill-informed stupidity. The real dealers are left with too many bikes they then can’t sell. Those bikes become last year’s models and become even harder to shift. Next thing you know, that dealer with a history back to the inter-war years is no longer there; or anywhere. Then the real-deal makers go under, or worse, are bought out for a song by a Peoples’ flag waving plastic spoon and motorcycle manufacturing company based in the industrial slumlands of invaded Tibet.

This model works even better for bicycles, of that you can be assured. For starters, for most folk, bicycles are an even less considered purchase than the motorbicycles with which the Chinese are now so enthusiastically engaged. The level of bicycle buyer intelligence that’s likely to apply will be even less than the low to which the motorcycle industry has now succumbed. We are all going to be dragged down into the swill-soured bog as the folk start spend-sending our industry to the oblivion of no-return.

There are some hopeful signs. Both the Canadians and the EU have hit Chinese McHappy Wheel makers with anti-dumping levies of 30% or more. To my mind, these levies are a levee from the bevy of the impending tide. Long may these levy levee walls hold! Our cycling future depends on it! Tell your local politicians you want protection! Vote with your money only for the real deal. Spread the message. Support your local bicycle shop!

Please consider making a donation to keep Bicyclism Blog going! Any contribution you make will indicate your support for my efforts and help cover bandwidth and related costs. You can make a donation through clicking the donate button on the Bicyclism Blog or the home page. Thanks!

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