“There are two ways one can appreciate cycling. As a means-to-an-end, it is the perfect way to travel in an unfamiliar place. Fast enough to cover some territory, but slow enough to experience that territory. But as an end-in-itself, spinning the pedals and devouring the road is a rhythmic, exhilarating, and challenging action which sets the mind into a steady, soothing groove. The world is a friendly place from the saddle of a bicycle, and anything you can’t actually see from that vantage point tends to recede into unimportance.”
Quoted from Neil Peart, ‘The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa’. (1996) Toronto, ECW Press. Page 160.
“I have also discovered that biking is suitable for my line of work, teaching and writing philosophy. Riding the bike in the morning often helps me to clarify and simplify my thoughts; the small stuff and petty worries drop out somewhere along the way. I have come to appreciate Nietzsche’s advice: “give no credence to any thought that was not born outdoors while one moved about freely–in which the muscles are not celebrating a feast to”. I almost always arrive at work a more clear-headed, not to see a braver-minded man after riding my bike in the morning. On the way home I’m able to relax and unwind if my day has been a stressful one. But what I have come to like most about commuting by bike, along with the resourcefulness it brings, is simply the time that gives you to spend outdoors, facing the elements. I had all but forgotten how much time I spent outdoors as a boy and how slowly and almost imperceptibly I was changing into an indoor creature, a sedentary man, furniture of a sort. I have at long last restarted my one-sided conversation with the stars and the ocean, and I have come to recognise again that I share this earth, or my little stretch of it, with other living creatures, especially insects but also birds and an occasional seal that looks at me from a safe distance. It is silly to forget such things but one does; just as one forgets how changeable and multifarious the weather is. If the sedentary life makes you an absolutist or a dogmatist, biking turns you into a pragmatist, that at any rate has been my experience.”
Quoted from Robert H Haraldsson, ‘Philosophical Lessons from Cycling in Town and Country’. Chapter 11 in Cycling: Philosophy for everyone (2010) edited by Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza and Michael Austin, Chichester Wiley-Blackwell.
“The energy required to pedal a bike isn’t much more than the energy required to keep your body warm while watching television…. If we compared the energy that is used by a car and the energy used by a cyclist, we find that the cyclist’s use of energy is vastly more efficient. The Toyota Prius…. gets roughly 49 miles to the gallon….. Converting the energy expended by an average cyclist traveling at 12 miles per hour we find that the cyclist gets the equivalent of 1,000 miles per gallon. Interesting enough, cycling is even more energy efficient than walking. The bike’s extraordinarily effective use of energy makes it an ideal mode of transportation.”
Quoted from John Richard Harris, ‘The Communist Manifesto’. Chapter 12 in Cycling: Philosophy for everyone (2010) edited by Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza and Michael Austin, Chichester Wiley-Blackwell.
“The condition of the cyclist is the human condition writ small – all of us must craft for ourselves the kind of lives we wish to lead, we must decide how we are to live, what we will do, and how to pull it off. Like Kierkegaard, we can find exhilaration and self-knowledge in this challenge instead of ennui or despair.”
Quoted from Steven D Hales, ‘Cycling and philosophical lessons learned the hard way’. Chapter 16 in Cycling: Philosophy for everyone (2010) edited by Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza and Michael Austin, Chichester Wiley-Blackwell.
I guess pulling it off is the secret.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
Hemingway said that. Never trust a car driver’s estimate of the number of hills on a route – I said that.