Sunday, March 23, 2014

What's So Special About Bikes?

There are travelers, and there are travelers. And then there are bikers.

Ask any biker what's so special about bikes, and all you'll get is a smug, self-righteously knowing look. It's supposed to be something that can't be explained, but has to be experienced.

Oh sure, a car is more stable, a train is (often) cheaper, a plane is faster, a ship is more enjoyable if you don't get seasick, and almost everything is safer, than a bike. Oh sure, some of us really look like absolute tools in the requisite leather. Oh sure, on some days, it's quite painful. And sure, you can't eat a sandwich on the move. The last one really hurts, and any Kickstarter project seeking to solve that problem would receive a significant amount from me.

And yet, try preaching this to a biker, and you stand a pretty big risk of being laughed at.

This post is an attempt at explaining something that won't be understood unless it is experienced. And now that I have confessed the futility of the endeavor, let's get started.

Yes, a car is more stable, but who values the trait of being really boring? Admit it, you want someone who puts the integrity of your bed at risk. It's the same thing with bikes. Like matadors on rampaging bulls, the mere balancing act on a bike is rewarding. The buzz you get in the area between your lower abdomen and your upper thighs is very real, and very natural. The constant risk of falling means that the supply of adrenaline is also virtually constant.

On public transport - of any kind - you are a mere spectator in the kaleidoscope unfolding around you. On a bike, on the other hand, you are the one creating the kaleidoscope; you get to choose the colors and shapes; you get to stop and contemplate upon any particularly alluring piece you happen to encounter.

There are many ways of having a journey, but none that includes you more than a bike. On a bike, you are in touch with the passing terrain. You feel every bump (sometimes rather uncomfortably), you feel the climate and the lifestyle of the regions you pass through. You can smell the soil and the blooms that you pass, you experience the scorching heat and the chilling cold.

In many ways, a car is the weapon of choice of the typical tourist. It gets you to your destinations, but conceals the journey. It hides the regions you are passing through under a huge blanket of air conditioning, and it keeps you away from the exhilarating rush of air. A bike, on the other hands, forces you to experience your journey as it is, no frills. It is for those who value the journey more than the destination; for whom the destination is merely an excuse for the journey. It is the steed of rambling wanderers.


  1. Quite refreshing! Really liked the thought of valuing the journey more than the destination. मंजिलसे बेहतर लगने लगे है ये रास्तें.... That feeling.