Thoughts While Cycling

23:35 Thu 03 May 2007. Updated: 13:20 09 May 2007
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I’m making an effort to use Zipcar a little less (despite how great it is) and cycle more. Naturally, the first time I choose to cycle where I’d previously been using Zipcar, it rains.

It’s been quite some time since I cycled home in the rain at night for any significant distance. The way rain somehow gets you wetter faster when you’re cycling as opposed to walking was immediately familiar, though. As was the feeling of numbness in my hands from the combination of wind and rain, the slow creeping spread of damp, and the gradual acclimation to the cold.

Night cycling is far more desolate than night driving. While driving in the city at night, you encounter other cars quite frequently, and your encounters with them are significant in that you are often sharing the road with them for minutes at a time. While cycling, the cars pass you at speed. Other cyclists are rare, and where they appear they, too, have an aura of loneliness that cars generally lack. When you’re driving, the cars seem more like vehicles piloted by other people; when you’re cycling, cars are machines, the drivers barely visible.

Night cycling feels much less of an industrial/technological experience. Driving is a process, one in which you move through a discrete and evident technocratic system of roads, lights, and other cars. Cycling engages that same system in an entirely different way, and is far more connected to the city qua landscape as opposed to the city qua system.

Daytime cycling is very different. On my morning commute I engage with cars much more, interact with them more, and am part of a moving crowd. Driving, day or night, never feels quite so much like a crowd, it just has midly differing levels of insularity, distancing the driver from the environment so that daytime and nighttime are simply two more states of the “outside”, like the weather, which has to be fairly extreme to truly alter driving.

Driving, cycling, and walking through cities are profoundly different experiences, and one could make an argument that one moves through different cities with each mode. Certainly distance is experienced in completely altered ways, and thus the hodological space is radically different.

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4 Responses to “Thoughts While Cycling”

  1. Helen Says:

    This is a beautiful entry! Thank you so much.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    Thanks, glad you liked it!

  3. kevintel Says:

    I get comments exactly like that on my posts too. They’re usually from Trent or Fernando, and helpfully include some links for where I can get Viagro Pro soft tabs for the best price on the web. :-(

  4. Tadhg Says:

    Indeed, but that one is of course legit. Even if other authentication tokens didn’t make that clear, the lack of links and absence of bad spelling are giveaways.

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