Over at Brain Pickings — a very cool site, by the way — Maria Popova brings attention to a new book by Robert Penn, It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels. In addition to delving into his personal relationship with the bicycle, Penn also explores bike history and culture.
Writes Popova: “Penn, a Condé Nast Traveler writer who has traveled more than 25,000 miles on a bicycle, approaches his subject with equal parts humor, humility and authoritative intelligence as he sets out to find himself a new bike. In the process, he dabbles across industrial archeology, economic theory, design and much more, profiles bike culture pioneers, talks to artisan frame builders from the world’s most arcane bike workshops, and even entertains the conceits of Victorian society, where a fear that the bicycle might be sexually stimulating to women became a real concern.”
It made me think about my relationship with my bicycle. I use it less as a mode of transportation, and more for pure joy and an unfettered sense of freedom. I never ride it in bad or even slightly unpleasant weather. I usually glide along, with little concern for the time I’m making, down side streets on sunny days as the wind rustles the leaves in the trees above my head. Like badminton and picnics in the park and late-night walks while you’re waiting for the temperature to drop, riding my bike is exclusively a summer activity — and it’s one of the reasons I get so bummed out when the weather begins to turn at the end of September.
By mid-October, my bike is once again locked up in the backyard, forced into hibernation (and hopefully not primed to be stolen by teens) until spring is yet again sprung. I always miss my bike during the fall and winter months, but I think the seasonal association with it – the hot days and ice cream cones and pitchers of margaritas and weekends at the cottage — that I see when I look at my bike makes me even happier when the snow melts and I can hop back in the saddle.