The Affect of Cycling [From BA 43-400]
"It's precisely because the bicycle creates rather than eliminates the need for physical labor that it's so gallant. When we ride bicycles, we reconnect with ourselves and the world."
from BA 43-400
The entire process of bicycling is rehumanizing. Your legs and lungs shout that they exist. Your eyes water in the cold and your nose runs and your palms start to ache. That’s your body reminding you of yourself.
Cycling need not ever displace or be suggested as superior to any other mode of transportation. We’re beyond that point in the conversation. But it bears considering that if humankind ever ceases to recognize and celebrate its own nature, its own potential, it risks decline and obsolescence. The sleek, beautiful, efficient machines we have invented to transport ourselves are ingenious creations, but they have a striking lacuna—they no longer require us, and if they do, they require us only minimally, peripherally. Jets fly on autopilot and are landed via computer, while automobiles are set to cruise control and now can drive themselves. Fair enough; that’s some magic right there that our species made. But those things are not us and we are not those things. Don't forget that—we’re the ones inside those machines and it's easy to lose ourselves within them.
Through the bicycle one can take back ownership of one's body. It is precisely because the bicycle creates rather than eliminates the need for physical labor that it's so gallant. When we ride bicycles, we reconnect with ourselves and the world in a way we do not when we take the train or fly or drive or ride a horse or camel. The human who produces power by his/ her own strength is a very elegant animal, indeed.
Perhaps then the bicycle is a “boneshaker” both literally and metaphorically. It shakes us physically and it shakes us mentally, emotionally, and psychologically—shaking us awake. When the cyclist is shaken into remembering that it’s human, the affect of bicycling can be resounding and residual. Because the bicycle, as a means of transportation, recreation, and competition, is simultaneously and subtly something more: it's still a commendable technique of moving amongst the world.