Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wooed and Won Over By A Bicycle

I've started working on my next essay/article, and I'm so excited. My intent with this one is to explore how the bicycle has allowed women to take control of their own destiny, and I hope to do this through the voices of the women with whom I was privileged to ride beside last summer, as well as articles and books I'm finding as I research. One book I will refer to during my piece is How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle by Frances E. Willard. I'm about a third of the way into this little gem and have marked several passages that speak to what I'm hoping to accomplish within my essay/article.

So far, one of my favorite passages in How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle is this: "Gradually, item by item, I learned the location of every screw and spring, spoke and tire, and every beam and bearing that went to make up Gladys (the name she gave to her bike). This was not the lesson of a day, but of many days and weeks, and it had to be learned before we could get on well together. To my mind the infelicities of which we see so much in life grow out of lack of time and patience to study and adjust our natures to those of others, though we have agreed in the sight of God and man to stand by one another to the last. Many will not take the pains, they have not enough specific gravity, to balance themselves in their new environment. Indeed, I found a whole philosophy of life in the wooing and the winning of my bicycle."

I've read this passage quite a few times now, not only for the melody I hear through construction of the sentences and the choice of words, which I find incredibly satisfying, but also for the message. With anything we undertake in life, learning the in's and out's of said undertaking make it fuller, richer. I've now had two bicycle mechanic classes, the last one this past Thursday at a friend's--who jumped aboard my "I want to be a bicycle mechanic" wagon--where the two of us were walked through how to put a bicycle together. My friend had all the parts for his new BMX bike, and after three hours, the parts were all fitted together to create his beautiful ride (well, all except the hydraulic brake line which popped out of the brake lever housing and thus created the necessity for bleeding the line before it could be put back together). Now that I know more about how the pieces fit together and how they work together to allow me the opportunity to roll along the streets of my city or countryside, enjoying the sights and sounds around me, the more I appreciate the machine that is the bicycle.

It is this appreciation for the bicycle and what it has allowed women to do, specifically the women of last summer's ride, that I want to reflect in my new piece.

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