Friday, May 21

Rich Experience

“Ride Your Bike to Work Day” prompted me to reflect a bit on some reasons I ride. Cycling is not for everyone, but it is a rare essence for those that have gotten addicted. What’s more, though it might seem illogical, the contrast between things we don’t like as cyclists, and those that inspire us, adds to cycling’s charm, at least for me.

For me, selected flats, getting unexpectedly soaked, a whiff of stale roadkill, an encounter with a socially-challenged or cluelessly ignorant motorist, a strong headwind as I head up the hill towards home on Old Denton Road with a construction truck on my tail, the abysmal road surface on Westport, and even hot or frozen slush water in the water bottle all add to the richness of the experience, and build commitment when combined with the far more frequent positive experiences. I think we need some unpleasant things to help us better appreciate the sweet ones.

Motorists do not experience the road and things surrounding it as richly as cyclists. It’s not just the speed, or the cage, HVAC, and electronics surrounding them, but the combined totality that insulates and numbs them from fully experiencing what they pass – and much more so than in times long gone. My motorists do not know the joy of waving to my concrete guys, or of going over to the fence in order to say hello to the buffalo herd next to Cabelas, of the smell of fresh baked goods, or of the crossing guards and kids that wave when I go by. Motorists never see lizards basking in the morning sun, much less execute a rock dodge to avoid running them over. The baristas at Starbucks mostly don’t really know one motorist from another at the drive through. They ALL know the crazy cyclist, and they offer him ice water when it’s hot. Motorcyclists know some of what I speak, but even they are insulated by their power, noise, and speed. A brisk tailwind means much less to a motorcyclist. Pedestrians and joggers, on the other hand, are constrained by their slow speed and limited range. They just don’t have the opportunity to experience as wide a palette of glorious sights, sounds, and smells.

Bikes, and cyclists, ARE different …

Yes, the Buffalo ARE Back in the Pasture Next to Cabelas...

5 comments:

Apertome said...

Nice post. You summed up well many of the things I appreciate about riding.

I don't share your buffalo obsession, though I do like them.

Doohickie said...

Smells.

Smells are my favorite part of riding my bike. I smell the night flowers giving way to the morning flowers on the way into work. I smell the muck along the river after a heavy rain. I smell exhaust too, but somehow it exhilarates me to know I'm not contributing to that. In the afternoon I smell the delicious flavors of dinner being cooked, a whole cornucopia dinners.

Definitely smells.

dickdavid said...

So true.

cycler said...

Such a nice post.
Smells, wind (airflow in general) and temperature shifts really connect you to the world in a way you miss when you're driving.
I never commuted past buffalo, but I used to talk to the cows....

Steve A said...

I don't talk to cows, but I DO blow kisses at them. They LOVE that!

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