Author Topic: The Joy of Cycling

sam

The Joy of Cycling
« on: February 14, 2013 »
I'm here today to tell you about the joy of cycling. Perhaps you think you've experienced it, but I want you to ask yourself: have you really? While most cyclists I know may be fully versed in Freud's pleasure principle, whereby they will try to avoid pain and suffering (e.g., getting hit by something bigger than them, heading out into driving wind and rain, dodging Clarksonisms) in order to satisfy those biological and psychological needs not met by noncycling activities, their actual pleasure seeking often seems to be short-circuited by an urge to take it all a little too seriously.

The evidence is everywhere: Enthusiast magazines graced by grim-faced road warriors; the actual grim-faced road warriors we run into an a daily basis who aren't on a photo shoot; online watering holes given over to the vented spleen; blood feuds between the helmeted and the bare; blogs all worthy and no whimsy; that voice in your head that's even now as you're reading this telling you to tell me that life on a pushbike is a serious business and I had better start taking it seriously.

I understand. 15 years dodging urban motorised mayhem doesn't tend to make one prone to bouts of cheerfulness. And yet, at some point in my self-propelled education I was overtaken by Pollyanna and decided to try and keep up. My attitude adjustment was brought on by a growing appreciation that cyclists take first chair in the orchestra of the road. (Granted, somebody needs to tell the other traffic. That's not my job.)

When conducting an ode to joy it helps to remove your hands from the handlebars. Don't try this on the High Street; don't try it at all if you think it's going to end in a trip to casualty. But if you're feeling confident, just do it: let go. See how good that feels? How it turns the bike into a time machine transporting you to when you were just starting to learn what was possible? How that next level of freewheeling ratchets up your expectations of pleasure and leaves you wanting more? OK, you can stop now, we're making a turn onto the Boulevard of Desire and you wouldn't want to fall off.

Now have a look down at that sexy beast you're riding. It doesn't matter how new it is, or what model. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, what's important is that this steed [use of 'steed' not optional] is yours, the one that would glide up to you at a whistle if this post was being written in an old western, Brooks saddle optional. Chances are you chose it with some care, after consulting your muse. As you've spent quality time together you've grown tolerant of its foibles or taken it to surgery when necessary. You groom it, at least for company. You would almost certainly die a little inside if it was stolen.

Of course it's not all about the bike, though a cyclist without wheels is, plainly, a pedestrian. We ride bikes because that's the way we roll, in perpetual pursuit of that place where DIY intersects with the sublime and finding it often enough to make it worth the thorns in our path. Quite simply, moving helps us feel the earth move.

Joy takes many forms. It may be exploring idyllic country lanes with your GPS turned on or left at home under a couch cushion, faithfully triangulated by satellites. It may be dancing on those pedals all night long accompanied by friends and other joy-riders shapeshifting in the magic light of a full moon. It may be cake, guilt-free. It may be personal best numbers on a computer, the roar of the wind replaced by the roar of the crowd, tutting about Lance over tea with Bradley in a post-race daydream. It may even be diving into the adrenaline rush of city traffic, restlessly searching for the path of least resistance.

Give yourself permission to be a hedonist now and then. Infect the world with your smile. Wave cheerily to Jeremy Clarkson the next time you pass him stuck in traffic. Tell him you've found your J-spot.