We ride bicycles to escape into isolation. It is freedom from the job, from responsibilities, from the droning monotony of our modern lives. The rhythm, the suffering, the surge of endorphins, the exploration, the adventure. It is even finding in our own little lives, nuance and novelty, discovering more about ourselves and the world around us than we ever knew before. It is connecting with others through that same common goal.
But even in our escape into Solitude, our mindfulness is broken. We started affixing computers to our handlebars. First, they only told us how fast we were going, how far we’d traveled. Next, they told us how fast our internal dynamo, the heart, was throbbing. And then they started telling us how much electricity our legs could generate. Finally, they told us where to go, turn-by-turn, robbing the ride of its mystery and daring. Now, the apogee: They inform us of text messages. Of notifications. Of emails. That little personal computer (so hilariously referred to as a “phone”) in our pockets, dominating our lives like we never knew it could, bringing us closer to everyone around us, yet leaving us so far apart. Crush the flow, it's time for the selfie. The #lightbro. For #roadslikethese. The creation of the illusion of idyllic isolation.
In chasing convenience, in pursuing perfection, have we killed off solitude? Have we come full circle when it comes to riding bikes? As the eBikes rise, the powermeter has become commonplace at the highest levels of the sport. Coincidence? Unlikely. The middle, as in all things in modern society, is squeezed. “No Garmin, No Rules”, the stickers say, one for every dollar in every wearable's seed round. Who’s making the rules, anyway?
THE BASTION OF SOLACE
In the end, does it matter? Is there sense in fighting the onslaught of the machines into our bastion of solace? Perhaps. Damn the torpedoes, leave the iPhone at home, accept the consequences, whatever they may be. Take the turn up the sketchy-looking dirt road, not knowing where it goes, or where it ends. Sprint at full-tilt to escape pursuing canines and property owners, open the floodgates of discovery, and really live. Live in wonder, if but for a few brief minutes each week. We'll discover that whimsy is not dead, just dormant, drowned out by the discord cacophony of data.
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