It has been described as the ‘Bible of the bike shed'; it’s author as the godfather of cycling. But had I heard of it?
Not until recently. Richard’s Bicycle Book: A Manual of Bicycle Maintenance and Enjoyment is far more substantial, philosophical even, than its title suggests. In fact, I was so moved by a few paragraphs at the end of its first chapter that I felt moved to share them – they’re so perceptive. So that’s what I’ve done below. Can you relate to the godfather’s thoughts on bicycle travel? Which bits really resonate with you? I’d be really interested to know. Here goes…
“The most important effect of mechanical contraptions is that they defeat consciousness. Consciousness, self-awareness, and development are the prerequisites for a life worth living. Now look at what happens to you on a bicycle. It’s immediate and direct. You pedal. You make decisions. You experience the tang of the air and the surge of power as you bite into the road. You’re vitalized. As you hum along you fully and gloriously experience the day, the sunshine, the clouds, the breezes. You’re alive! You are going some place, and it is you who are doing it. Awareness increases, and each day becomes a little more important to you. With increased awareness you see and notice more, and this further reinforces awareness.
Each time you insert you into a situation, each time you experience, you fight against alienation and impersonality, you build consciousness and identity. You try to understand things in the ways that are important to you. And these qualities carry over into everything you do.
An increased value on one’s own life is the first step in social conscience and politics. Because to you life is dear and important and fun, you are much more easily able to understand why this is also true for a Vietnamese, an Eskimo, or a Tobago islander. Believe it. The salvation of the world is the development of personality and identity for everybody in it. Much work, many lifetimes. But a good start for you is to get a bicycle!”
Well put Richard – The Slow Cyclist agrees entirely with your sentiments! You can find Richard’s Bicycle Book on Amazon. Or support an independent bookshop by ordering it from my favourite shop on the planet here.