The Mystical Bicycling Experience Revealed

Girl on bike
Photo by Matt Sundin

Compared to the presumptuous car the humble bicycle costs far less, rarely brings speeding tickets, provides exercise, may be parked free on sidewalks, is low on emissions, bestows moral superiority, is efficiently simple, low on maintenance, saves money etc. These can be important, even crucial factors in deciding whether to ride a bike.

But what is the primary attraction, the very essence of bicycling? It is, of course, the mystical experience of actually riding a bike. This experience lies more in the area of poetry than prose, more in art than in science, more with singing in the shower than with watching TV. It can be put in words but perhaps no more effectively than having beautiful music, a gorgeous sunset, or how your dog looks at you put in words. Riding a bike is play, pure fun, and a game. It holds true for someone who has not ridden a bike in a while, and miraculously remains the ever blooming experience of the daily rider.

Mount your bike, take a few leisurely pedal strokes, and you'll marvel at how easily and far it rolls (unless, of course, you started uphill). Listen to the gentle whirring of whirling wheels, and the ever so lightly crunching sound of tires on pavement or gravel. Clang your bicycle bell. It does not startle, and does not threaten. It forever announces: "Look Ma, no hands!" Riding unfailingly brings us back emotionally to our early bicycling experience. We will always remember the excitement of mastering (be it after a few bruised knees and scraped elbows) the seeming impossibility of balancing on only two wheels. We will never forget our first new and shiny bicycle (whether in actuality shiny and new or not).

by Eric Sundin

Small boys & girls darting on bikes
untiringly they explore
in streets, trekking on backyard hikes
'watch me! watch me!', they implore

In our ‘hood hover tiny voices
each moment full of movement
on summer days endless play choices
movement fills every moment

Copyright © 2013 Eric Sundin

Our first bicycle endowed us with fantastic speed compared to running, allowed us to venture from the neighborhood, gave us our first taste of controlling a moving machine, granted invulnerability from the mean dog down the street, and the first seductive hint of leveraged human power. Bicycling will let us relive our amazement over the effortlessness of just quietly gliding along. When young we told ourselves, on some level: "This is how Life itself will unfold for me!"

Above all, we remember what it was like to be a kid. In the face of sometimes harsh conditions in our hearts we were carefree, adventurous, noble, indomitable, and always invincible. We possessed resilient and bouncy bodies, and it would never be otherwise. The air smelled fresh (even if we grew up in the inner city, or in a factory town), food tasted heavenly, sleep was deep and delicious, right would prevail, true love was always requited, and...we would never know greater buddies.

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