In my last post, I mentioned that there is something magical about riding a bicycle that is impossible to explain; something hidden within turning those pedals over again and again, around and around. But I will attempt to explain it anyway.
Science can’t fully account for how a bicycle stays upright. Many people will tell you it is the gyroscopic motion of the spinning wheels but that has been shown not to be the case. I won’t go into all the science and that is not the magic I am referring to. I’m talking about the special feeling one gets when riding a bicycle.
Perhaps it is rediscovering the feeling of freedom and joy. Maybe it triggers early memories of learning to ride a bicycle and the excitement you felt when mom or dad withdrew their hands for the first time and off you went, riding on your own. A sense of accomplishment that you had mastered the task and now were in control of your destiny. As you grew older, a bicycle often offered a sense of independence, an opportunity to go out on your own to explore the world.
Traveling by bicycle is the ideal speed for exploration, you have time to take in the sights around you, you’re not rapidly passing by everything like you are in a car, enclosed in a box of steel and glass. But you’re covering ground much more efficiently than walking. It’s easy to stop for a closer look at something that catches your eye. I think there is no better way to explore than on a bicycle, whether you are riding through the wilderness on a mountain bike, passing through the country on a road bike or cruising through a city. When I lived in Tokyo, I would go out exploring on my bike every weekend. Prior to venturing out I would set a destination, often a Japanese garden, shrine or temple, and carefully plan my route. Many times I would spot something off route that struck my curiosity and I would go off to explore, never making it to my intended destination. But that was ok, this would leave my route for another ride, and another adventure.
Unlike when riding in a car or even when riding a motorcycle, when riding a bicycle, it is mostly you, the bike is only a fraction of your total weight. A great bike becomes part of you, it disappears under you and the feeling is that it is just you sprinting down the roadway, carving through the curves or weaving through the forest on a narrow trail. This is where carbon fiber excels as a bike frame and component material, it offers the lightest options available so that as you ride, there is more “you” and less “bike”, enhancing that magical feeling.
So there you go, I have attempted to explain the magic of the bicycle. But the only way to really understand is to get a bicycle and go for a ride in a place you enjoy.