Last Friday, I criticized the people of Portland for their flamboyantly ebullient (or, as I prefer to think of it, "flambullient") approach to cycling. Subsequently, I was pleased to see that they received this criticism with good humor--a quality which appears to be typical of them, and which is no doubt a product of light workloads, bicycle-friendly streets, and a wholesome diet of locally-grown organic foodstuffs. Meanwhile, here in New York City, cycling is all too often a dour business consisting of many insoluble subsets, each of which refuses to acknowledge (much less ride with) the others, regardless of whether theme costumes are involved.
However, there are some riders in this world who transcend these subsets. They even transcend the very notion of the theme ride, since their entire lives are theme rides, and that theme is cosmic oneness. They are simultaneously soluble and insoluble, as all of cycling exists within them. I'm speaking of course of cycling's Lone Wolves, who occasionally deign to take human form and ride among us:
I've been criticized in the past for posting images of the Lone Wolf, despite the fact that I do so with genuine reverence. Frankly, if revering the Lone Wolf is wrong, then I don't want to be right. The truth is that I am always simultaneously excited and envious when someone spots the Lone Wolf, as was the case this past Sunday, when a reader was fortunate enough to encounter him at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix:
As you can see, the White Lotus bicycle is manifest here. Needless to say, it's no coincidence that this is what the Lone Wolf rides. According to that irrefutable authority, the "internet," in Buddhism the White Lotus "symbolizes Bodhi, the state of total mental purity and spiritual perfection, and the pacification of our nature." Note in particular that the USA decals on the twin disc wheels are in harmonious alignment. However, in stunning contrast to this is the Lone Wolf's countenance, which instead of its characteristic beatitude appears to be fraught with concern. While at first glance the source of the Lone Wolf's consternation is not apparent, the scene directly across the street from where he is sitting makes everything immediately clear:
Who would dare to display a lesser white bicycle in the presence of the Lone Wolf? This no doubt is the object of his lamentations. Of course, the Lone Wolf's expression should not be mistaken for anger, as he is above anger. Rather, he is simply in a state of deep compassion for this poor being. Clearly, this person is attempting to take a shortcut to enlightenment, and putting together a bicycle like this and taunting the Lone Wolf with it is like assembling a plastic Christmas tree next to the Bodhi Tree, napping under it for 20 minutes, and then springing to your feet and announcing, "I've attained enlightenment!" It just doesn't work that way.
Still, this does not prevent people from making premature pronouncements of cycling gnosis. A reader recently alerted me to these knuckle tattoos, with which the wearer claims to have attained a state of "Veloship:"
Apparently, "Veloship" is defined as follows:
noun, verb, Wes-ism, -shipped or -shiped, -shipping or -shiping
1. the condition or relation of being a fellow velo: the fellowship of cyclists.
2. friendly relationship; companionship: the fellowship between riders.
3. community of interest, feeling, etc.
4. communion, as between members of the same bicycle gang.
5. an association of persons having similar tastes, interests, etc. in cycling
6. a company, guild, or corporation.
–verb (used with object)
7. to admit to fellowship, esp. bicycling fellowship.
–verb (used without object)
8. to join in fellowship, esp. bicycling fellowship.
9. The fellowship of the bicycle. Basically what it comes down to is fellowship on bikes. You
ride with someone and talk about life, God, whatever... And that's what I'll be doing for
the rest of my life.
1. velo-radeship, cyclo-camaraderie, friendcycle, velo-society, intimacy.
However, when I see a pair of hands that say "VELO SHIP" on them, I think of only one thing:
Since it now rains All The Time in New York City, I have a feeling that the "velo ship" conversion is going to become the next big thing. Forget horizontal dropouts and fixed cogs; soon it's going to be all about the pontoons. Not only will this come in handy for flooding, but it will also mean that you won't have to use any of the bridges; instead, you can just ford the East River wherever you feel like it. Actually, it looks like it's taking off already, since "velo ship" riders are beginning to organize alleycats:
That must be the post-race trackstand competition.
Not only that, but "velo ships" are also great for time trials, as the video page shows:
Fortunately, though, some riders are still more humble about their places in the universe, and as such they choose asceticism as the path to spiritual transformation. Here's one such example from the Fixedgeargallery:
While the rider's asceticism is not apparent from the Iro above, it does become clear when you see his second bike, below:
Clearly, this rider has divested his bicycles of unnecessary ornamentation to such a degree that he has but one saddle and seatpost, and he switches them from bike to bike as necessary:
ITTET I applaud such frugality. Really, if you think about it, what's the point of having a seatpost and saddle on every one of your bikes? You can only ride one at a time after all, and most people have a particular saddle they prefer anyway. You've only got one crotch, so why do you need five seats?
But while asceticism and a lack of attachment to material possessions can be spiritually healthy, that doesn't mean that you should invite theft, as is the case with this Bianchi spotted by Daddo One:
This may not be the key to enlightenment, but it is the key to a free bicycle as well as possibly the contents of the owner's home. Perhaps the rider is testing the "veloship" of his or her fellow riders. Personally, I think it's about as "bulletproof" as an R-Sys.