Musings and Conjectures of a Fundamentalist Bicycle Rider

By: Jack Huckleberry 3 August, 2009 A bicycle is a bike. Some people look at a motorcycle and call that a bike, but those people are wrong when they do that. Think about it like this: sometimes the things we know as children are the purest and truest truths. Go ask any child what a bike is and they’ll tell you, or they’ll take you to their back yard or the garage or the driveway and point to out their bike to you. It could be any or every colour of the rainbow, it might have tassels flowing from the handlebars, or a basket on the front, or one of those oldfashioned squeeze horns; it doesn’t matter. There is a common grain of mystery in any bike any kid points out to you, and it is this: a bike is that wonderful invention, simple and sure which, when you get on and start peddling, you attain pure and undefiled freedom. I am a bicycle enthusiast. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that bicycles rank somewhere in the top three to five interests in my life. While finishing up the dishes last Sunday night I was listening to a program on the radio. The host of the program, we’ll call him Charles to protect his identity, was talking about how much he loves music. Charles says he loves every kind of music. He says he honestly doesn’t think there’s any kind of music he can’t appreciate in some way. Charles says that’s when you know you love music. After thinking about it, I came to realization that that’s like me with bicycles. I’m not just interested in bikes, I’m passionate about them. I walk down the street and my wife will tell you, it’s not cars or dogs or ads that catch my eye – it’s bikes! I can appreciate something in every bike I come across. Whenever I visit the Big City, at some point in the day I’m sure to be found at one of several bike stores I know about. It’s almost like a pilgrimage for me or something. The nice thing about visiting the city is they have both the really big bike stores and the really small, quirky bike stores that just wouldn’t survive in a city the size of the one I live in. Currently I have three bikes. My KHS (as much as I love bikes, I’m not one of those guys who gives his bike a name) I use practically everyday to get me around from

the beginning of April until the end of October. It’s a hybrid, which means it’s a cross between a racing bike and a mountain bike. It’s quick and sleek like a racing bike with the slim tires while at the same time strong and rugged and designed with the more comfortable upright posture of a mountain bike. It’s black, it has mud flaps and I have a milk crate on the back for carrying most of the stuff I need it to. I love that bike, I’m not even kidding. My second and third bikes are both still in pieces in my garage; they’re a pure racing bike and a pure mountain bike. The racing bike is pretty much just an experiment: I want to make it with no gears and have the brakes in the pedals so you press back to slow down. The mountain bike is going to be a trail bike, which I’m excited about because I’ve never really gone on a trail with a bike before. I’ve been giving it some thought lately, and I think bikes represent some of those essential, basic values that we as human beings share and long for and cherish. Things like freedom, and innocence, and purity, and healthfulness. When you sit down and think about it, it’s true. Riding your bike is total freedom, and not only because you can ride around wherever you want. You’re free from having to pay for gas or car insurance, and you can feel innocent that you’re not causing any negative impact on the environment. Then the environment ties in with the purity and healthfulness – it’s pure in its gentleness to the planet and it’s good for your health because you’re out there pedalling, pumping your muscles and breathing in all that air. Riding your bike is a wonderful form of exercise. Out in the country where my parents live, you should see the bike riders who whiz by – now those people look healthy! Another thing I thought of lately is that bicycles are holistic. Holism according to the dictionary is defined as, “The theory that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood except in their relation to the whole”. Now I’m pretty sure I don’t really understand what that means, but I think it’s getting at that old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It sounds kind of mysterious, but also kind of true.

My bike makes me feel like I’m flying. I’m one of those cyclists who ride with no hands whenever I get the itch. Riding bikes with no hands is marvellous; it’s probably the closest the average person can get to flying. A key factor about riding with no hands is that it’s not really safe. I’m in my thirties now; I have two kids, a house, a mortgage, all these bills and payments; I’m at the place in life where I can’t be reckless or too daring with things like my finances or my leisure time or pretty much any other part of my life anymore. So when I get out there on my bike, feeling the wind in my hair and fresh air in my lungs, riding with no hands gives me that little rush of “living on the edge” so rare in the rest of my life. Speaking of the dangers of hurting myself reminds me about something. Earlier this summer I hurt my knee playing tug of war, and for a period of time I was really worried I might not be able to ride my bike ever again. I’ve got to be honest; there was a time there when I was really afraid. I was afraid that I would have to put down this part of my life which means so much to me. To me bike riding is almost like a form of protest sometimes. It’s an action against all the ways we choose to put our wants and convenience before the good of the earth and all the other living things on it with us. Bike riding to me is protest against all the pollution we put into the air. It’s a protest against all the consumer products we are enticed to purchase to make us feel better about the fact that we aren’t really doing much to actually change our lives in a way that will do good. And it’s a form of protest against the laziness I feel when I know I could get on my bike but I choose to get in the car instead. Bike riding to me is like a lifeline between what I am and what I want to be. Thankfully that tug of war injury wasn’t permanent. I’m back on my bike and riding like the dickens these days. But if I had permanently injured myself, I know what I would have done, and it didn’t take long before I came up with the plan. If indeed I could not ride a bike anymore, I decided I would focus all that enthusiasm and joy into making bikes for the orphans in our neighbourhood. I envisioned my garage as that place where any orphan knew they could come and receive their very own bike. I

would work quietly and with great determination, yet always with a smile while making great bikes for free to all the orphans in my neighbourhood and the world. And when the reporters and documentary filmmakers interviewing me ask why I do it, I would say, “I do this because bike riding can be hope. It can be beauty. It can worship. Riding a bike is the synthesis of the human spirit, mind, and body. It is glorious thing.” The End.

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