cycling as philosophy

one of the things i like most about cycling is that it encompasses all of the learnings of the great philosophies and religions in life, but does them without hours of pretentious genuflection.

let us study a few.

epicureanism — we know epicureans today as  people who love food but back in the day – 200 years before christ – they kinda liked everything. or rather, they reckoned pleasure was the ultimate expression of good and pain and suffering were evil. now tell me, who likes the good life like a cyclist? their celebration of the beauty and form of their transport is surpassed by none. even the dickhead with his toupe in a ferrari cant match the simple svelte lines of a beautiful bike. nor can he match, dollar for pound, the expenditure of a true epicurean cyclist. who spends $3,000 on a custom lugged frame? who throws away perfectly good wheels for a pair of pink velocity deep dish wheels? who puts cards in their spokes? okay, bad example, but you get my point. epicurus would be proud of our devotion to the good life. and i havent even mentioned our devotion to beer yet.

stoicism — the stoics loved to suffer but they were also a bit wary of suffering. famous stoics were nearly always rich men. poor men were kinda just stoics by default, so they didn’t count. one guy practiced living in poverty every month, preparing himself for the hardship should it ever come about. pity he didn’t also elevate a poor man into his house for the day, but you’d hate to get the tiles dirty. stoics were almost the flipside of the coin to epicureans and it’s testimony to the complexity of our great recreation that we can encompass such dualism so readily. so, how to we suffer? shit, do i need to tell you? have you been cycling? were there cars on the road? did your bum ache? did it rain?

buddhism — many modern western buddhists are of the new agey breed, so you get the wrong idea about this great movement. the spoilt western wannabe buddhists take from the religion what suits them and are blissfully ignorant of the rest. they like the prayer flags, the incense and a pursuit of happiness. in fact buddhism had  lot more to do with transcending suffering. no-one transcends suffering like a cyclists. the painful climb to the top of the hill is rewarded with the joy of the descent. the cycle of suffering and rebirth writ large. where cyclists tend to differ from buddhists is that we start out as higher beings and return as pigs.

solopsism — these guys believe that the world wouldn’t exist without them because there’s nothing in the world they cant say exists outside their own mind. the world as they know it certainly couldn’t exist without them so there’s some truth in this. there’s a great short story about a solipsist who stopped believing in himself and promptly ceased to exist. now, who on earth is more sure that the world wouldn’t exist if they weren’t there to edify it than your average cyclist? who weaves through traffic, disobeys road rules, rides on footpath and road as though both existed solely for them? the solipsist cyclist.

minimalism — i’ll quote from wiki: Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. that just about describes a fixie, an object for movement that has been stripped down to its most fundamental features. shit, half you guys don’t even have breaks.

christianity/judaism/islam — i’m going to borrow a few ideas here from the bike snob. the fragments of cycling are often at odds with each other, roadies against mountain bikers against fixie freaks against those turds who put their bike on the back of the car so they can amble up and down the broadwater. in a sense we’re like christians hating muslims. we all believe in monotheism and the word christ — to some degree, whether as son of god or simple prophet — but we hate each other anyways.

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