Bicycle Diaries: Fat Lad's 4th <i>Riders Writing Cycle</i>

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Fat Lad's 4th Riders Writing Cycle

utilitarian & vélotarian

From Fat Lad:
For you is cycling a lifestyle thing or is it a utilitarian tool for getting from A to B? For our utilitarians how do we convince the caged masses that bikes and not children's toys made large and for our lifestyle companions how do we further evangelise the true way? Thoughts on the back of a £20 pound note to my home address please ;)
Whenever folks ask me why I roll, my usual response is that I'm not all that into the environmental or health benefits of alternative transportation. Instead, I say, I'm cheap ... and impatient. I don't know how I'd get by in the current global recession if I had car payments plus the costs of insurance, gas, and parking.

But even before the economy went south, I realized that I could get around The Windy City as fast or faster by bike. Any trip under 3 miles is certainly faster than by car. Between 3 and 5 is just as fast. What helps, especially with the latter, is that without a car I don't need to trawl for a legal parking spot. All I need is a bike rack. If that's not available, a handy street sign or parking meter will do. I can't overstate the convenience of bike parking. Nothing is more nerve-wracking than spending more time in a car hopelessly searching for parking that I do getting to my destination. And if I need to go further than 5 miles I can always do a combination of biking and mass transit.

Having said that, I'm not a total utilitarian. My attitudes have evolved in some rather surprising directions in the 6 years since I dumped my car. All you need to do is scan some of my early posts to Bicycle Diaries. One close friend, who regularly reads this blog, remarked last week that much of what I post has actually very little to do with biking. He's both right and wrong. Certainly it's just one of the many topics I cover. On the other hand, biking is what unifies it. And like a really enjoyable bike ride, a post rarely has a predetermined destination. It often starts out with one thought or theme, then goes somewhere else altogether. Try as I might, I have yet to post an entry in which my initial intentions match the finished product. In this way I'm a vélotarian. Or as Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden,
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!
Live the life you've imagined.
As you simplify your life,
the laws of the universe
will be simpler.
I wouldn't say that I'm in the business of evangelising the true way. I leave that to The Rat Patrol and The Scallywags. My goal, if I have one, is to share something that gives me immense pleasure with anyone who's interested in reading this or asking me about my biking. In other words, I much prefer being a humble example than an intrusive lecturer. Besides there are more thoughtful and articulate folks out there than me. My absolute favorite is Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), who wrote the famous poem, Ode to Bicycles. So I'll end with that!
I was walking
a sizzling road:

the sun popped like
a field of blazing maize,
was hot,
an infinite circle
with an empty
blue sky overhead.
A few bicycles
me by,
the only
that dry
moment of summer,
barely stirred
the air.

Workers and girls
were riding to their
their eyes
to summer,
their heads to the sky,
sitting on the
beetle backs
of the whirling
that whirred
as they rode by
bridges, rosebushes, brambles
and midday.

I thought about evening when
the boys
wash up,
sing, eat, raise
a cup
of wine
in honor
of love
and life,
and waiting
at the door,
the bicycle,
only moving
does it have a soul,
and fallen there
it isn't
a translucent insect
through summer
a cold
that will return to
when it's needed,
when it's light,
that is,
of each day.

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Blogger WheelDancer said...

Funny how a simple question produces a meandering answer. Nice post!

2/3/09 16:32  
Anonymous Insurance said...

This is quite impressive post, I just loved reading it, keep poss like this coming more often, you rock!

21/3/09 21:20  

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