Today my copy of The Bicycle Diaries arrived with which, after dinner and a film, I put a record on and settled down with. Until the last couple of years I've always had a bike. I still technically do have a bike, it's just no longer in any form of working order and isn't likely to be ever again - I bought it secondhand from a friend of a friend at University nearly 10 years ago, so it had a good run. But recently I've been hankering after the freedom and brilliantly altered view of our surrounding environment a bike offers. It's been bubbling and gestating inside me to the point that, after reading the first few pages of the book I was tipped over the edge; I am going to start looking for a new bike. The first new* bike since my 11th Birthday.
In the book David Byrne has perfectly captured the wonderment cycling brings as he describes his experiences of cycling around many of the world's cities. I couldn't agree more. A bike gave me my first sense of true freedom when, as a young boy, I realised I could really start to explore the country roads and paths that surrounded the small town I lived in. It was at my own pace, under my own power and I could stop wherever and whenever I liked. Unlike driving cycling is almost always at a pace which allows the rider to take in their surroundings while still covering some serious ground. Like driving you are forced into a wonderful state where a section of brain is required to focus completely on the task at hand, working away at it almost automatically, which magically allows other parts of the brain to simultaneously wonder and create. It is a precious thing.
*Note: It probably will be secondhand!