Ode to a bicycle

I bought a bicycle today. Ode to a bicycle: It has been years since I have written one, it feels to me now altogether a strange and difficult contraption. I need to wrap myself around the creature’s steel frame so intently, and balance so precisely, and kick off and continue wobbling forward in just such a manner as the overall performance requires, that it’s hard to believe this practice is in the general domain of children everywhere. And yet, the benefits are immediate. First is the absolute silence; such a drastic contrast between the motor of my scooter, which in itself has never bothered me, nor was I much aware of it. This silence fills my ears and my heart, it seems to expand the space between objects and push up against the weight of the sky; the world becomes altogether sweeter and more peaceful. I also notice, with this bicycle, words such as “hurry” or “quickly” have no place. There is no thought to going faster when it is enough work to simply keep going, to adjust pace with traffic and deal with, using your own exhaustable energies and physical strengths, the hills, turns and other obstacles of the world that are unnoticed by other modes of transport. However, while alleviating the stress of needing to be somewhere, and the frantic sensation that comes when we feel we are wasting our precious time in transportation, bike riding does not allow us to remove our consciousness from the active process of handling the mechanism itself. While in a train, car, or scooter, the driving process is so easy as to encourage day-dreams and other indulgences, the result of which is to arrive at your destination with virtually no memory of the journey. Riding a bicycle takes just enough concentration to be aware of not only your surroundings, but also the continuous acts of pedalling and steering. You are thus so engaged in your environment, you become hyper aware, but also just enough removed, through the gentle speed through which you cut past, to observe objectively. (I have never found this to be the case with walking, which, on the one hand is far too personal, placing you directly within influence of your surroundings, and which can also, so I find, create a desperation of being able to see where you are going while not being in control of getting there any faster, with any less expenditure of energy).

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