Friday, 22 May 2009

Richard's Bicycle Book

I recently purchased 'Richard's Bicycle Book' in a secondhand bookstore on Gloucester Road in Bristol. Ballantine's book, first published in 1972, fortuitously appeared at a time when cycling was experiencing a resurgence in popularity due in part to the oil shortages of the world oil crisis and the appearance of lightweight road bicycles. He is currently chairman of the British Human Power Club and of the World Human Powered Vehicle Association.

I wanted to share this passage from the book:

“...You have to expect that I would believe bicycling is a good idea, but how do I get off expressing the notion that bicycling is philosophically and morally sound? Because it is something that you do, not something that is done to you. The most important effect of mechanical contraptions is that they defeat consciousness. Consciousness, self-awareness and development are the prerequisites for a life worth living. Now look at what happens to you on a bicycle. It's immediate and direct. You pedal. You make decisions. You experience the tang of the air and the surge of power as you bite into the road. You're vitalized. As you hum along you fully and gloriously experience the day, the sunshine, the clouds, the breezes. You're alive! You are going some place and it is you who are doing it. Awareness increases and each day becomes a little more important to you. With increased awareness you see and notice more, and this further reinforces awareness.

Each time you insert you into a situation, each time you experience, you fight against alienation and impersonality, you build consciousness and identity. You try to understand things in the ways that are important to you and these qualities carry over into everything you do”.

It is our genuine hope that the people that receive a bicycle from us will get the opportunity to experience that vitalization and sense of awareness that riding a bike can bring!

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