Friday, March 25, 2011

My Other Bike is an SUV

Mindy and I were talking with a friend this morning, and the subject of how we are doing, how we are navigating/handling this came up.

We showed all the various accoutrements:  the rear rack and coffee cup holder on Mindy's bike and the fenders and permanent lights on my bike. Then Mindy said something I thought was curious and stuck with me throughout the day.  She noted that when she had a car it was a station wagon, and it was like another closet.  Her bike and its cup holder and rack, with a yoga mat strapped to it, was really just a sort of "station wagon" and my bike, with its fancy lights, slick wheels, fixed gear. was more of a "sports car"-- a cheap Italian sports car.
Villano Single Speed w/ Flip-flop rear hub
What I thought was strange was at how easily the metaphor came to her. And how easily we all just laughed and nodded our heads in understanding.  Cars have infiltrated our psyche, become something other than just a mode of transportation.

Now, as a writer, I'm sort of fascinated by words, by how words work.   So here's a mode of transportation that really didn't become even mainstream until maybe 70 years ago, but we know what a sports car is; we know what a station wagon is, and what they say about their respective owners.   Perhaps with time we'll have to explain the rare car with words like, "His car is sort of a Fixie," or "His friend drove us up the mountain in his car that's like a "mountain bike" or "We put all this gear in a "cyclecross" kinda car."

Sounds strange doesn't it?  But isn't that the transition I am hoping to make?  It's not just trading my car in for a bike; it's changing how I interact with the world, how I see the world.  And for that, language is a good place to start.


  1. great thoughts, don! (although, I hope you are not calling my bike the SUV!)I, too, find the language we so easily fall back on as telling, just as the gaps in what is possible and what is doable is telling of the society we have created. I enjoyed talking with our mutual friend today about our experiences

  2. so interesting!
    I think language though will have leftovers in it from pre-car times (nothing is coming to mind right now but I will keep searching) - of course those older words probably are being eliminated from certain dictionaries .... you and Mindy can get us started in the right direction. I think derailleur is a cool word ... tho my new hybrid bike doesn't have one -- it popped up into my dream the other night ...
    -Cirrelda aka Colorofsand.wordpress