Cycling Through Life

Painting of a bicycle
(c) Mimi Boothby, Bike Date

There’s something about the motion of a bicycle when it’s on its way and the laughter of its wheels downslope that makes you wish you did nothing else all day. If you ever rode a bicycle, you know perfectly well what I mean.

Like most kids I grew up on bicycles. Though I can’t remember anything about my tricycle, I know for sure I had one. Living on the fourth floor of an apartment building, however, discouraged cycling during my city childhood and adolescence. It saddens me to say I have not been friends with bikes at that time.

Nowadays, in the lower and wider spaces of a suburban neighborhood, I still don’t have a bike of my own, but I find myself borrowing mother’s more and more. Though the mongrels would object, cycling bouts in the evening through neighborhood are quite a treat, and when you hear the trees swishing all around you as you go, it’s as if you had something to do with it. Which is no small satisfaction.

Even more enjoyable are longer rides down the road that runs along the train tracks. It’s a road that goes on and on, I don’t know where, and it’s neither paved nor disturbed by cars that much. Your bottom does grow numb with the potholes and rocks in your way, but the flowery fields to your right and the countryside atmosphere make amends for such inconveniences.

What is it about cycling that is so enjoyable? It’s in the open air, it’s eco-friendly, it happens at just the right speed, neither slow nor fast – it gives you time to breathe and take in the sights. Then there’s the crunching of the pebbles under you and the laugher of the wheels downslope. To say nothing of the hard-won joy of conquering an incline or other.

Should I ever end up living in a city again, I’m resolved to keep on riding a bike, however many flights of steps I’d have to struggle with it. Riding a bicycle in a city is no small feat, but there are plenty of people who inspire us to do it, even in a city such as Bucharest which isn’t the most bicycle-friendly around. Even here you can see plenty of bicycles around, even on the crowded boulevards.

If lovely women do it, helmeted only in their long, streaming hair, and with their skirts fluttering about them like the wings of giant butterflies, so can the rest of us, and just like them we can allow ourselves to become politely indifferent to the honking of distracted drivers.

Cycling is a good way to go wherever you want to go, but it’s especially good for going nowhere in particular, for just being on your way for a time, which we need now and then, just as much as arriving somewhere.

When’s the last time you rode a bicycle?

23 thoughts on “Cycling Through Life

  1. Great post. Makes me remember all the things I loved about bicycling. I gave my bike away a few years ago, thinking I’d never use it again, and now I miss it. 😦

      1. My neighbors. Then they didn’t even use it. It is now lost to the abyss of the universe 😉

  2. I love riding my bike! I was thinking about going out for a ride today. I didn’t own a car for a long time and rode everywhere when I lived in Wisconsin. There is something very freeing when riding with the wind at your face, although I prefer it to my back. 🙂

  3. Briliant post, such eloquent language, Vincent. You have captured the essence of cycling most beautifully. I too admire the women cyclists helmeted by their long locks. I am an avid cyclist. When I was sixteen I got my first bike, mostly because I, like you, spent much of my childhood living in an apartment building in a city – but since I got my first bike six years ago, I have not got off since! (well, of course, to eat and sleep and live – but you know what I mean!) 🙂

  4. Wonderful post Vincent. I love cycling. I wish I could do it more, but here in Alabama, we don’t have cycle friendly roads. My wife and I cycled a bit in Japan and it was absolutely perfect. Kyoto is a cyclists dream.

    You captured the essence of the sport. Thank you.


  5. Takes me back to cycling as a kid. I think there’s a special sense of freedom during that time unmatched by that od adulthood, although I still get a kick out of flying down a hill 🙂

  6. As often as I can. Check out Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne of the Talking Heads. A great cycling book

      1. My friends would probably make fun of me when they see me in a tricycle 😀 but they are very supportive we went biking last time because they want me to learn – their current goal is for me to learn how to ride a bike before I turn 30 😀

  7. Wow, I too never learned how to ride a bike. Reading your post has made me feel inspired to try it sometime, there’s a perfectly unused mountain bike sitting in my garage at the moment with a flat tyre. Besides, with my height falling wouldn’t be seen as a problem.

    Thank You Vincent!

    – Ainsworth, Xx

  8. I grew up in small country town where riding a bike was safe and enjoyable. I learnt to ride on the same small but sturdy two-wheeler we five kids learnt on; even riding the two miles to school when I was little. In Sydney it’s illegal to ride without a helmet these days: the government doesn’t want the cost of brain damaged patients. And cars travel fast here. I don’t ride bikes (or horseback—another great love of my youth) much anymore, and I really miss it. Still, it’s something you never forget how to do. I’ll be doing it again in September, when we visit Croatia for a convention. You can ride safely there around the bays in Cavtat with the sea and nature all around you. Stay tuned…

  9. Loved this entry. Cycling has its own magic, its own flavor… I try to ride my bike as often as possible (both for recreation and exercise) the last time I rode was yesterday, did 15 miles and loved it

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