August 10, 2010

Bike Love.

The other day following an unruly bout of homesickness, Andrei and I met for a bike ride after work.
Ok, ok, while our ride was not nearly as scenic, nor even half as romantic, it did seem that a nice leisurely bike ride was just the cure for homesickness I had been seeking without even realizing it.

As most of you know, I am a bike aficionado. So you can imagine my sheer delight to receive this from Andrei on my birthday morning.
David Byrne is well known as the co-founder of the Talking Heads, but his professional and personal interests delve far beyond his leading role in this band. Since the early 1980s, DB has been riding a bicycle as his principle means of transportation in New York City, and following his discovery of the folding bike, bicycles now accompany him most anywhere in the world he travels. Bicycle Diaries chronicles his observations and insights - what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about - as he pedals through and engages with some of the world's major cities from San Fransisco to Istanbul to New York to Buenos Aires.

He writes:

"I found that biking around for just a few hours a day - or even just two and from work - helps keep me sane. People can loose their bearings when they travel, unmoored from their familiar physical surroundings, and somehow loosens some psychic connections as well. Sometimes that's a good thing - it can open the mind, offer new insights - but frequently its also traumatic in a not-so-good way. Some people retreat into themselves or their hotel rooms if a place is unfamiliar, or lash out in an attempt to gain some control. I find that the physical sensation of self-powered transport couple with the feeling of self-control endemic to this two-wheeled situation is nicely empowering and reassuring, even if temporary, and it is enough to center me for the rest of the day.

It sounds like some form of meditation, and in a way it is. Performing a familiar task, like riding a bicycle puts one into a zone that is not too deep or involving. The activity is repetitive, mechanical, and it distracts and occupies the conscious mind, or at least part of it, in a way that is just engaging enough but not too much - it doesn't cause you to be caught off guard. It facilitates a state of mind that allows some but not too much of the unconscious to bubble up."

His words speak straight to my heart, I find that bicycling as both a form of transport and exercise grounds and centers me. I suppose I too strike that meditative "zone" that he references, which distracts me from my daily stresses and allows my creative juices to flow, in fact, most of my blog entries are crafted in my head as I ride home from work each day. I have long discovered that a little bit of exercise each day does wonders in terms of positively lifting my spirits, although admittedly this is a lesson I tend to casually "forget" on occasion.

If his words are not inspiring enough, perhaps these pictures will prove to be dually inspiring. Throughout the Bicycle Diaries DB chides the commonly held perception that spandex is a required uniform for urban cycling, which surely detracts some from this "sport". Now if only I could figure out how to look this good on a bicycle?!


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