Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

September 14, 2009

What's the big deal?

This webpage, my Facebook pages and posts, and my general presentation to the world, is largely centered around bicycling. I've always had a strong passion for it because of what it's done for me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have fond memories of it, for the things and places I've seen, for the people I've met along the way - lifelong friends; bonds grown through struggle, sweat, and triumph over odds - and more often than not, simply because we shared something on the open road that can't quite be described. Hard to believe, but there is more to life than riding. I'm good at it, and - yes - it's a part of my everyday life - but there is more to "me", I promise you. Ditching the car and commuting, and occasionally riding a ridiculous distance on a bicycle does nothing more than help define my existence, and makes me a better person. The phrase "it's not about the bike" comes to mind - because, really, it truly isn't and shouldn't be. I love far more what a bicycle does for me, than I have love for the thing itself.

Possibly contradicting this is my passion for old classic bicycles, but it's not really about the physical item there, either: I like antiquity, good design, and the notion that every ounce of elbow-grease you put into restoring a classic bicycle is given back when you ride it. Little else created by man can do that. Perhaps a well-made and tailored suit and the way it can transform its wearer; a classic hand-made car (not the mass-produced, stamped-out throwaways of the last 45 years) and how it can incarnate so much feeling with only a turn of a key; my boundless love for music and the instruments that create it - how a simple wooden tube with holes in it can enlighten an entire village of people; cameras, and how their complex collection of electronics and/or mechanisms and lenses creates nothing more than flat rectangles of tiny colored dots... but, O!, the power of coming across a long forgotten photograph!

I think it could be summed up by saying that I have a vast appreciation for instruments of any kind: anything physical that is well made, well designed, and can be used to create something else which can't quite be described. After all, music is nothing more than vibrations. Riding a bicycle does nothing more than physically move you from one place, to another - and, by today's standards, slowly. So what's the big deal? Ah.... that IS the question. The performance, the feeling, the emotion... the intangible. The very notion that something inanimate can produce something else, unseen and unpackageable, which grows greater in worth than the collection of parts that created it.

This short interview with one of my - dare I say it: heroes? - highlights some of this thinking, and should serve to remind us not to be one-dimensional, not to be about so much what we do - but who we are, and why we do what we do.

There is an 'advertising' sort of feel to this piece, the motivation of the interview drawing on the hopes of a traditional whiskey manufacturer to juxtapose their product with the mystique of the interviewees notions of what defines a "classic". I would greatly enjoy seeing this individual interviewed by someone such as Charlie Rose, for example - but this will do. What is said therein is worth noting, and has some weight to it even if it's been said differently 1,000 times before; the sum total is a repeating theme that I try to use as a mantra for my own journey, in hopes that if someone were to ask me who I am, I could muster an answer.

At the end of the day, are you happy? Is your family happy? Did you DO something? Did you feel anything? If the answer to any of these is "no", change it.

Enjoy this link to interview: http://www.webcastr.com/videos/news/les-stroud.html

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