It’s All About the Bike… Or is it?
In the world of cycling, you hear it all the time: It’s all about the bike. Every detail of every component, every gram of weight saved by the newest carbon fiber chemistry experiment, every new aerodynamic shape—obsessions focused on the literal bike. But consider this: What if the actual bike doesn’t matter; what if “all about the bike” instead referred to just being on a bike?
What if experiencing something by bike actually changed the experience?
Chapter 1: I’m a bike person. Riding bikes has always been part of my life. I’ve ridden for fitness; I’ve ridden for social and tribal belonging; I’ve ridden because I enjoy both the challenge and the satisfaction of achieving something that I wasn’t sure I could do. In broad terms, cycling brought me both “Type I” and “Type II” fun. (For the uninitiated, Type I fun is the “WHEEEEEEE!!!” kind of fun that elicits pure joy in the moment; Type II fun is the “THAT WAS FUN!” feeling one legitimately gets sometime after finishing something that was anything but fun in the moment.) But with the wisdom that realistic memories deliver, I’ve decided that I’m not interested in planning Type II outings on a bike anymore. These days, if the bike doesn’t promise Type I fun, it stays in the garage. I know I’m opening myself up to missiles of criticism, but I’m OK with that. You see, it’s not that I’ve decided to melt into the couch or resign myself to a sedentary life, I’m just changing the reasons I ride. And funny thing is… I actually look forward to riding more.
So, let’s take the moral of this fascinating tale and circle back to the original question: Assuming we ride bikes only for Type I fun, what happens when we add bikes to other things that bring us Type I fun? The answer, if you’ll allow, lies in the moral of another story. Settle in, Grasshopper, there are worse things you could be doing.
Chapter 2: I love to travel and explore new places, especially OLD new places that engage the architect in me. The ancient cities of Europe tell stories of mankind’s growth and struggles. Organic medieval villages speak to centuries of life in a way no book or museum can convey. For me, hopping on a plane and driving from village to village in Europe was a passion. I walked streets at night, I photographed, I observed, and I tried to imagine the history. I really enjoyed every adventure and, as soon as I returned home, I started dreaming about the next. But something magical happened on one of them that I didn’t plan and I certainly didn’t anticipate.
Some years ago, I took a trip to Tuscany to ride bikes through the area. I thought it would be cool because, as I suggested, I really like to ride bikes and I really like to explore new places. I thought it would be fun to do both on one trip. And I was right, but not in the way that I anticipated.
What I experienced wasn’t the normal joys of riding a bike in and of itself, or as an ancillary to exploring a new place. What I experienced was that riding a bike through a new place completely changed the experience itself.
Instead of dropping in by plane or train or car, moving to the next place to do the same, I found that the “moving through” was the magic. What I learned is that planes and trains and cars move too fast. They move you past a place. They skip the context of a place. I learned that when I moved through Tuscany at the speed of a bike, everything slowed down. Instead of visiting Tuscany, I absorbed Tuscany. And it blew my mind.
The vineyards and olive groves weren’t thing you flew past on the way to “the next place,” they spoke of the essence of why those places exist. For the first time, I felt that I started to understand a place. And I was changed. And I never wanted to travel any other way again.
Epilogue: I’m still a bike person, but I’m a different kind of bike person. For me, bikes are more than a passion, more than a conveyance, more than tribe; they’re integral to a larger part of me. They feed my passion to explore.
I started eBike Nomads to share what I love and to help others feel the same joy. You see, for me, sharing is another Type I fun and I’ve learned that Type I+Type I does not equal Type II. It equals Type I On Steroids. Call me selfish, but I like that kind of fun—a lot.
Make no mistake, there will still be plenty of Type II (and Type III) experiences, because that’s what life throws at us. But if they happen in the course of a bike exploration in some fabulously interesting new place, I say welcome to the party.
I hope you’ll join me on one of our explore-by-bike journeys soon. Your Type I ebike awaits.
David (and Skye),
Founder, eBike Nomads