Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.
– H.G. Wells
I have borrowed my friend’s scooter for a few days and it’s funny, it’s such a piece of junk that twice at the top of two hills i had to jump off and push.
The old Greek men watching me come up the hill toward the café in the village might have found it amusing, but it’s hard to read anything in their listless gaze, which i now attribute to the likelihood they have not ridden a bicycle down that hill, let alone up, since childhood.
Presumably these blokes have observed me a few times riding another friend’s bicycle up the hill toward the village for the last few months, and when i cycle in places where cycling is not really done, i like to flatter myself as a sort of pioneer—riding around Phnom Penh on a fixie was a hoot, the kids loved it, squeezing the rock-hard tires and perhaps wondering why the white guy never stops pedalling.
Aside delusions of grandeur, i just love to cycle—so much so that what i miss most about staying here for nine months longer than intended is Massive, my steely stallion, currently tied up in Dad’s backyard.
But i don’t much feel like expending physical energy the last few days, though it’s fun, jumping off and relieving the poor motor of my weight and running, pushing the thing until it builds up enough speed that i can jump on again, side saddle until it stops again, repeat, and eventually i make it up the hlls i have been cycling up with relative ease these last few months.
And that’s my point, my case for bicycles—our legs are capable of expressing more energy than a small engine, with much less noise and pollution, and with many benefits for our health and well-being.
It hardly needs to be said, but after i saw those Greek men watching me putter up the hill i thought it might be worthwhile to make this case, because if those poor sallow blokes haven’t ridden a bicycle since childhood, at least they might have thought this morning, That weird hippy fella on the scooter would be better off with his bicycle.