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June 24, 2013 1 Comment
While the subject of levity (tires riding on air) is up, I don't want to miss the chance to remark on the broader concept of lightness. I know some of you are waiting to learn a couple tricks that tires use to accomplish their miraculous mission. But this must come first.
To embrace a life full of cycling, one must renounce conventional wisdom. One, we have motorized alternatives to cycling that will allegedly add more to your productivity. Two, cycling clogs streets that weren't strictly designed for multiple forms of transportation. Three, why are you stealing time from your family and friends to simply float around the planet on pedal power?
In a similar way, to embark on a career in the cycle industry you must be prepared for some harsh truths. One, compensation will be mediocre, much as prevails in the arts and other, more pure, sports pursuits. Two, your family may judge you harshly. Three, your success will depend on some basics:
There are few useful means to become trained. Barnett's and UBI aside, most bicycle wisdom is floating around, hard to grab, hard to pay for, requiring personal effort. The network of established and semi-established artisans, mechanics, riders, and shopkeepers is your resource. They're more generous than you can imagine. Few exceptions. Ask and keep asking how, what, why, when. Be sure to thank those who are generous and do your part to pass it on.
Today it comes as an advertised truth that wisdom and happiness can be purchased. Well, believe what you want but with cycling, all rewards go to the diligent. I've been beaten in races by unlikely physical specimens who put in the miles and followed coaching advice. Cycling is owned by the dedicated much more than the genetic mutants who dominate in other sports. So it is with the industry. Perseverance pays. Don't take my word for it.
To do good work; social, artistic, environmental, religious, athletic (not that these are much separated); you must learn to reduce your baggage. Mental and physical. Too complicated a life, too many hobbies, too many forms of entertainment, too many options, and you won't be able to survive long enough at a cycling pursuit to get good and really enjoy.
Especially your overhead. Reduce, reduce, reduce. For young people, nothing could be more obvious. They're poor, own little, and make the most of it. But check them a few years from now. Some will have chased the money trail and succeeded. Others have learned to live on less. Which path is best?
Best depends on your inner destiny. You can bet that those who succeed at kite boarding, skiing, bike racing, running, sailing, climbing, surfing, and the technical crafts that support these are the ones that managed to reduce their footprint. It's the same as resource depletion. The less you use the less you need. The lower your material expectations, the greater your personal freedom.
I want to encourage those of you who take that big step towards this industry and towards serious cycling to never forget how linked your success is to your ability to reduce your material presence. Fewer possessions, fewer debts, less stuff. Oops, an exception for tools, of course.
On that topic, but from a purely mechanical engineering point of view, there is no better exposition of the compelling reasons to pursure simplicity and lightness than Adriaan Beukers', Lightness. Check it.
Beukers teaches at the University of Delft in Holland. He penetrates the nature of existence from the perspective of weight. To fly and pedal, we make extraordinary effort to save weight. On earth, lightness = cost of movement. Power is directly related to kilograms and distance. To survive with other elegant organisms, we must minimize our impact. Nothing so directly affects our impact as mass.
Buy it, borrow it, or check it from the library. Tell me if you don't agree. The light weight that drives us so relentlessly in cycle design is the same principle that can enable you to embrace a cycling lifestyle, is the the same practice as our species is slowly learning about the planet.
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