Monday, November 7, 2011


Here's a surprising thing about starting up a blog about cycling: every time you get on a bike, you can't help but think about what you might write in the blog.  This might seem self-evident, too obvious even to comment on, but I'm not really talking about the existance of the link here.  I'm talking about the power of that link, about how much space it takes up.  The entire Dusty Musette crew managed to get out for a ride together this weekend, and, not four kilometers into the route, someone asked "what are you writing about this week?" and the whole conversation turned to our potential musings. Having to say something every week results in a lot of time spent thinking about what you might want to say.

A lot of that thinking takes place aboard the bike.  This is part of the tangle I mentioned.  To one degree or another, I think we've all started to see rides as potential material for the blog and the blog as go-to conversational and motivational material for the rides.  We have, for example, a plan to get out and ride by the light of the full-moon in the near future.  This is, as you may know, an excellent way to experience a bike ride, recapture some of the adventurous fun of childhood, and take advantage of that magical, other-worldly realm that comes into effect sometime in the middle of the night all at once.  "Sounds like a good blog-post in the making," said one of my riding companions.  A week or two later, the other: "I think I'll probably have something good to write about afterwards."  I suspect you readers can soon look forward to Full-Moon Week here at the Dusty Musette. 

So far, this approach has paid dividends.  My ride with Jasper last week provided me with a busted saddle and, therefore, several hundred words about said saddle.  I know all those creepy roads Pency's ghost story took us down.  My musings on the coming hours aboard the trainer were mostly mused on a chilly ride with the sun low in the sky, the kind of ride that makes clear that there aren't many more rides left in the season.  Why do I have this photo? 

Well, largely because this is exactly the type of scene you stumble across while riding a bike but would never notice in a car or be near on foot.  Frozen deer, ribs white with frost.  Precisely the kind of moment that begs for a break in the ride, a moment on the side of the road, and --above all--the taking of a picture in case somebody wants to write about it.  (Keep an eye out in case somebody does.)

This could, I suppose, start to sound like writing has started to make riding feel like part of a job, or like a resource to be exploited for the entertainment of a phantasmal host of readers.  For me, though, that's not the sense I have.  Not yet anyway.  I am amused by the extent to which the blog has started to overlap with the bike, certainly, but I find it to add more depth than labor to the journey.  Riding is often a zen-like practice; the mind stays in the moment, the body performs and refines a finite set of motions, a calm unity settles over the the most extended exertion.  But writing up that moment a few days later brings a needed layer of reflection to the proceedings.  We value the reduction of life's chaos to that moment of flow and exertion outside of time, but the writing lets us look back and pull a few otherwise ephemeral moments aside.  We can do what Roy Batty couldn't and snatch a few tears out of the rain.  We can show them to someone else. 

Among sports, cycling is unique in that it's not really a team sport so much as a communal one.  (Think of the Tour de France--a hundred some riders, a score of teams, and everybody working together for 98% of the day.)  Writing up a moment from a ride extends those communal ties out beyond the two or four or six wheels actually on the road.  Most of us don't get to ride out in a field with dozens and dozens of riders, a lot of whom we know on a first-name basis.  Most of us roll out of our garage or clomp down the stairs from our apartment alone and go out to kick cars by ourselves.  That's fine, that too is the nature of the sport.  But a taste of the communal is a fine thing as well.  We've got a little bit of that going here, a little bit of a textual peloton.  

Ok.  I'll take my pull.  Especially if I see something neat on my next ride. 


  1. Hmm. I think I don't like it. There's a tension here between you having an experience and then reflecting on it and you being outside of your experience already reflecting on it as it's happening. It's the latter and your tending towards it that I don't like. If you're evaluating your experiences as your having them, you're taking yourself out of the moment in a weird sort of way, aligning yourself more with the reflective self rather than with the acting self, which is a dangerous move, I think. It somehow seems to make your experiences more the experiences of a passive object than an acting subject (even, though, of course, you're also still acting, kind of). Or something like that.

    In any case, I'm just worried that the ride will lose its delicious healing and energizing properties for you. I'd hate for something that's bringing me joy and hours of procrastination to mold over the tastiest parts of the ride for you guys.

  2. I like it. I want you to go out looking for the strange, the eventful, the calming, the frosted, think about how to write it, then write it. Then I get to read it. I mean, I watch the Tour de France peloton or any group of riders (competitive or recreational or both) and I wonder, "What are they thinking? What are they talking about." Now I get a glimpse of your experience. I say have the moments, and the meta-moments-in-the-moments, too. It's all a hoot. It's also cool to read a blog that's aware of itself as a small community of wriders who care.

  3. @Anon -- See? This is its own kind of philosophy blog.

    @Tando -- Thanks! It's a community you commenters are helping to build, a community you all are members of.


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