Tuesday, January 13, 2009

on cages, and liberation therefrom.

In the cyclist's jargon file, an automobile is often refered to as a cage, and one who drives an automobile is a cager. It is an interesting play on the roles of ownership, for if one is in a cage, then one is obviously confined, restricted, without liberties. The cage contains its captive. The captive does not own its cage; it is subject to it and inferior to it. The Cars R Coffins group elaborates on this line of thought.

Automobilers though immediately regain some control when they are called cagers. A cager must be "one who cages," or one who drives a cage. Now the driver again has some ownership of the car.

However you chose to look at it though, the implication is obvious that riding a bicycle is liberating. 

And it truly is.

A lot of Pirsig's comments on quality, as it pertains to his motorcycle rides, apply directly to bicycling.

One begins to measure "good time" with an emphasis on "good" and not "time."

And, possibly most importantly, by losing the barrier between you and your environment, you seamlessly become part of your environment. Without the windshield in front, the roof overhead, and the doors on your sides, you are no longer merely passing through. Feeling the wind on your face and smelling the aromas around you make you feel like a participant in the symphony of your surroundings, not just a guest, or a visitor trying to get from point A to point B.

It makes your trips and commutes feel purposeful and intentional. It's mindful commuting, in the tradition of Buddhist mindfulness.

So it often does feel like when I talk about bicycling, what I'm actually doing is talking about weather. But that's okay because a large part of cycling is weather, and being mindful of it and participating in it and embracing it.

And all over the world, strangers talk only about the weather.  
-Tom Waits, strange weather

But speaking of weather, I think this kind of two day combination may come to typify Denver for me: lethal amounts of ice, snow, and wind on Monday; clear, sunny, and 50 degrees on Tuesday.

That kind of severe variation isn't healthy or stable. Denver weather has Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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