Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
—Henry David Thoreau
People bicycling are like family. Cycling has an amazingly broad and diverse impact throughout our communities. But I still get surprised when I meet new cyclists and experience how the world of cycling is expanding. Cycling keeps branching out and bridging gaps. When I picked up the September/October 2018 issue of Bicycling magazine, I was captivated by the story on NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and his love for bicycling, and how that love is shared by so many in motorsports.
Joe Gibbs Racing mechanic Sean Kerlin is a cycling enthusiast. photo from bicycling.com
I don’t care who you are…it [cycling] is just a great break in the craziness of life. –Jimmie Johnson
Johnson is one of the great drivers of all time, and he’s also cultivated a passion for cycling. He uses it for many of the reasons we all do. Cycling has helped him listen to his body and learn about its needs (which helps him in the race car when he is driving). Cycling helps him enjoy his travels more. Johnson gets to explore the places he goes in depth and detail by pedaling, and meets lots of interesting people. And then there’s the intangibles. Cycling just makes for a better day. I bet cycling helps him practice hand, feet and eye coordination too, honing skills.
I’m following Jimmie Johnson on Strava now, and enjoy seeing his almost daily rides. He has 7423 followers on Strava as of this writing, and posts some awesome pictures of the places he rides and people he rides with, including his wife. Cycling makes life more beautiful.
To innovate…you need a trained imagination. —Martha Nussbaum, NEH 2017 Spring conversation
I’m a driving enthusiast, but didn’t grow up a NASCAR fan. So for me, Johnson’s cycling is a way into NASCAR traditions and culture. I found out they are not so different than what I am used to. They have a competitive drive that fosters innovation, and they care about the broader world, the environment and all people. The NASCAR Green program works to minimize NASCAR’ environmental impact and preserve the natural environment and foster sustainability.
No wonder so many of the drivers, mechanics, and staff in NASCAR have joined with cycling culture! It delivers a balanced approach and real sense of mechanical efficiency, ergonomics and light impact. Maybe when we ride a bike we are not as alone as we may think.
An action is the perfection and publication of thought. A right action seems to fill the eye, and to be related to all nature. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”
The bike brings people together. When we see people cycling we have an automatic connection. We have a technology that helps us calm our minds, deepen our engagement with our bodies and the planet, and expands our sense of the other, making the world more familiar.
I like this poem by William Safford, called “Maybe Alone on My Bike”. There’s an analysis in the Literature chapter of this Routledge Handbook that makes me think about the potential of the bicycle. So much stored energy! It’s almost like cycling tames ourselves and opens us up to a conversation with the landscape. We sense a greater connection to the world around us.
I’ve blogged about the manifold applications of cycling over the years. Here are a few examples of the positive impacts cycling imparts on individual lives, our families, our imaginations of what is possible. Out of many, cycling makes us one again. Riding a bike more and sharing the experience with others is a goal that creates the kind of world we want to live in.
The World Bank sees cycling as an investment in health:
The US Military sponsors endurance sports to support our service personnel:
Kids benefit from cycling in many ways: