Thursday, May 19, 2011
Cycling as Art and Politics
In Britain, apparently, cycling is a political act. The impression I get from a few recent blog posts, and comments in newspapers, is that to ride a bike in England is to make a statement. There is no thought of pleasure or utility behind it. Cyclists are grim people, clad in lycra or wool (woollen cycling clothes?), with set faces, doing What Is Right in the face of the freely expressed opprobrium of their fellow man.
Why are cyclists hated in this way in the Old Country? There is vague talk of how they ride on the pavements and go through red lights. Neither of these things is a problem in itself, only when done without due care. It's not as though car drivers don't sometimes jump lights and zebra crossings, fat women don't waddle down the middle of the pavement, glaring at anyone who asks them to move aside, or teenagers don't run through the streets, barging into other passers-by. I would really like to know what it is that brings out petty spite in people who probably think of themselves as fashionably relaxed and tolerant about most other things.
The country round here, and with the exception of bits of Toledo I mean the entire Region, is well suited to bike riding. It's not especially mountainous and there is a network of footpaths which takes you just about anywhere you might want to go. I prefer walking, which is the leisure of the gods, but on a bike you can go much further in a given time, and you get a feel for the undulations of the terrain which you don't appreciate so much on foot.
One commenter on the thread linked to suggests that the only way to travel is, as he does, on a litter carried by large Nicaraguans. Each to his own, but I have to disagree with him. While I am able I shall take my rucksack and staff (a stick, that is, not attendants) and travel the world, or as much of it as I can, on my own two feet. If the body fails one day I might buy a litter, but instead of Nicaraguans I would think about hiring a half dozen of Gadaffi's female Nubian bodyguard. The link with Egypt appeals to my sense of history, they sound a lot of fun, they won't have any trouble carrying me even if I put on weight, and they may well be out of work soon.