a case for bicycles

 Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.
– H.G. Wells

Einstein, another well-balanced adult

Einstein, another well-balanced adult

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.

To Be Coming Home

I have changed my plans again, this time to stay in Greece for a few more months because i have a sense of home here, now. Something shifted when i decided to stay, which wasn’t as much a decision as it was a relinquishment, a letting go of some idea i had about the future.

I was going to Thailand and India via Australia, China, Laos and a few other places in between: back to Australia to get Mulga Bill Massive, my poor neglected touring bike, so i could cycle around in search of another community.

But around the thought of leaving Greece there was a feeling of an anxiety, which fell away when i knew i wouldn’t yet have to go back through Istanbul, Dubai, Adelaide, just to get my bike and ride to Byron or somewhere. I need community, communion, and here i have it, now, so why leave? Leaving a community in Greece to go in search of a community elsewhere is like going into a shop with a dollar and asking to buy a dollar.

When i realised this, the anxiety fell away and relief emerged, bright and luminous as the stars appear to be when you get out of the city for the first time.

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