Friday, September 5, 2014

The Magical Bicycle (as in all of them)

A conversation that took place behind the great wall of FB has provoked life back into this poor neglected blog!

I found occasion to mention the peculiar, seemingly inexplicable awesomeness of bicycles, and it was our great fortune that a slight acquaintance saw a question for which an answer he did intend to deliver. And let me tell you, you had better put on your reading pants!

the illustrious RW McCalmon wrote:

First, we are a nomadic species. Evolved to move long distances regularly. 14,000 years of the agrarian revolution cannot completely change the adaptations of millions of years.

Those activities that stimulate beneficial cardiovascular adaptation do so not only to heart, lungs, muscles, etc, but also the brain. As the user of 20% of all calories consumed, more than twice as much as the next closest competitor in the animal kingdom, our brain reacts well to the growth of a denser network of arteries and veins. Which will in turn deliver the oxygen and glucose necessary for brain function + more efficiently remove the damaging waste products of metabolism once the energy is consumed. I believe our brain function is tied to our nomadic nature. Evolved in a conjoined fashion. Movement is necessary to think clearly. There is a reason why cardiovascular and metabolic diseases go hand in hand with dementia.

Now bring in the bike. An invention that takes the human endurance animal with middling efficiency and makes it the single most efficient moving body in existence. No other animal can compete with the amount of energy we put in versus the distance we can travel when we are on a bike. Not even when you place humans in other modes of transport. Not even close. The bicycle is the efficiency king of the physical universe.

That sort of efficiency is the freedom we all feel from the moment our feet leave the ground for the first time. It is a crack for those especially lacking a healthy physical outlet. Which is most of modern first world society.

Bikes let us chase the wind, or take the fight right into the face of a strong headwind. Choosing to feel in a very direct physical manner the invisible substance that surrounds us not entirely unlike a less viscous ocean. Or do the same up a mountain side, wrestling with the ultimate victor of us all, gravity. Symbolically chasing death ascending or descending.

But, more than anything, it transcends words. To the point that most nearly, if not all, words struggle pathetically to capture the true essence. And will continue to do so, for as long as there are beings to ride them, for many centuries to come. It is the closest we'll ever come to a free ride and I think subconsciously we know this as if we are standing on the edge of a very high precipice. Mundanely abundant with an illusory simplicity that masks a counter intuitive efficiency.