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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some "Official Thoughts" On Why We Cycle: Freedom, Private Pleasures, Childhood Fantasies, and... SEX

"I've got a bike
You can ride it if you like
It's got a basket
A bell that rings
And things to make it look good
I'd give it to you if I could
But I borrowed it

You're the kind of girl that fits in with my world
I'll give you anything
Everything if you want things"-- Pink Floyd

A couple interesting articles came across the wire this morning and I thought I should share.

In the first article, British researchers have, for the first time, studied and isolated our motivations for throwing our legs over the saddle and taking a trip by bike. Here

Key perceptions of cycling were found to be very positive – people associate the act of cycling with , being fun, bringing back memories of childhood and a pause in the stresses of daily life allowing a space for 'me time'. Respondents also enjoyed the pure physical pleasure of cycling along, being alive and in charge of your own propulsion.
I completely agree with the findings as I can easily slip into a state of semi-hypnosis as a stream of consciousness takes over. This feeling is usually interrupted by something absolutely thrilling.

The project, which was funded by the South Glaucestershire and Bristol City Cauncils along with the Bristol Social Marketing Centre ("er"..ahem!), is aimed at finding out why more people do not use cycling as an alternate form of transportation so that the cities can better promote utility and recreational cycling.

The researchers had cyclists draw and describe pictures of themselves biking, and recorded their positive or negative feelings.
“I'll be coming home from work. It's nice to get on your bike after a stressful day. You don't have to sit in the traffic. It's a stress buster. It is. It feels good.” (Male utility cyclist).
Many of the feelings described by this study sounds a lot like a few feelings from other worthwhile activities... which brings me to my second article.... about SEX. Here

Tim Krabbe, on his blog In The Saddle, struggles with the deadly sins of cycling... especially with the 5th Deadly Sin--Lust.

Krabbe takes a decidedly negative view of cycling and sex... hopefully no sex while cycling, but I think he may be a little off the mark.

According to Krabbe,

Cycling is not a sexy sport. Perhaps occasionally it is, during a picturesque sun-drenched stage of the Tour de France, the camera dwelling on riders pouring water suggestively over their gasping faces… the hot steaming tarmac, tanned skin and toned thighs bulging beneath lycra, a flicker of the erotic, a flutter of the housewife’s heart… But on the whole, and especially in the winter off-season, cycling is mostly unglamorous drudgery undertaken beneath grey skies and on grimy roads.

As a racing cyclist the outside world views you with, at best, indifference, at worst suspicion. Lust doesn’t even come into it. As the weekend rolls around and the normal world embarks upon its escape from the working week - drinking, pubs, clubs, bars, dancing, flirting, falling over – us lot are packing in the carbs and heading to bed with a warm milky drink. The pursuits of hedonism and of peak athletic condition mix about as well as a heavily laced house party sangria – it’s fun at first, but before you know it you’re cowering under your duvet praying that Monday morning never arrives.

As a young single male, forgoing such social activities precludes most opportunities for finding a suitable (or even unsuitable, I’m not fussy) female companion to befriend and copulate with and to do all the stuff that normal couples would do. Which probably doesn’t include riding bikes, or at least any kind of cycling that isn’t on dorky rental bikes through Center Parcs in matching cagoules (when any female refers to cycling as ’biking’ it is this vision of holiday catalogue activities to which they are referring).

Cycling and sex are very much strangers, or at least acquaintances who only grudgingly accept the existence of the other. And so it is with some fervor that the cycling world leaps upon its few pin-ups; whether it’s Victoria Pendleton proving that you can combine domination of women’s track sprinting with posing for FHM (above), or cycling’s original (and only?) Italian stallion Mario Cippolini passing off looks – such as this, this, and even this – that the rest of the peloton couldn’t possibly attempt.

Cycling, especially on a road bike, makes anyone look sexy. Mountain bikes on the road make the riders look like frogs when you pull them out of the water... but riders on road bikes just look athletic, graceful and... well... sexy. Despite the homophobic crap we get from angry, closet gays about lycra, people out being active are being attractive. The bicycle also creates a conversation starter with enough innuendo to impress a 1970's game show question writer.

Now... Krabbes might not be sexy, but cycling sure is.

  • Giant Asia will be representing Taiwan in the Malaysian Tour of Langkawi stage race.
  • Taichung Bike Week is coming! No, this is not where Discovery Channel cameramen get into a cage with giant, man-eating bikes (but I would love to see it). This is getting big.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for mentioning me and my blog 'In The Saddle' in your post. Unfortunately Tim Krabbé is in fact the author of 'The Rider', and I've simply used a quote from him at the top of my blog. I can see how the confusion happened. In fact, a blog by Krabbé would make for very interesting reading!

    If you've never read it I can really recommend 'The Rider' - it's one of the best books about cycling ever written.