two-wheeled thoughts & Teaser Tuesdays: Offcomer by Jo Baker

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Two-wheeled thoughts is my own.

offcomer
Offcomer is a fine and rather hypnotic first novel – by the author of Longbourne, but before it – only now in its first stateside publication. There’s a lot to it, but I was struck (of course) by these lines.

The bike was cool and damp after a night in the back yard. She wheeled it, ticking like a grasshopper, through the house and out the front door, bumped it down the steps. She pushed her right foot into the toeclip, swung into the saddle. Shuffling the other foot into its clip, she tacked slowly up the hill. The gears clicked into place with the certainty of a problem solved.

I love that it ticks like a grasshopper, and that the gears click like a problem solved. That is as it should be.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

two-wheeled thoughts: Arthur Conan Doyle

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.

–Arthur Conan Doyle, Scientific American, 1896

Thank you, sir. That’s my mental health maintenance plan, right there.

two-wheeled thoughts: about a queen

…what right-thinking girl of seventeen would hesitate between a throne and a bicycle?

–article in the New York Tribune, as attributed in Pete Jordan’s book, In the City of Bikes.

I love this one, because the girl in question is expected to choose the bicycle, and not the throne. Great stuff.

The book where I found the above quotation has not yet been published and thus its contents, presumably including quoted sources, are subject to change.

two-wheeled thoughts: Samuel Clemens

Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.

–Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain

I think there is a little hidden joke in here somewhere. :)

two-wheeled thoughts: Arthur Conan Doyle

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.

–Arthur Conan Doyle

Ahh, exercise, the greatest antidepressant I know! It’s an unfortunate cycle (no pun intended) that when I am off my bike for several days at a time, I start feeling down, and then am less likely to get out for a ride which is just what I need most. But I mostly know myself well enough to recognize that a bike ride is the best cure for most anything that ails – even a little 30 minute spin. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to solve that puzzle!

two-wheeled thoughts: Wolfgang Sachs

Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers – those people ride a bike.

–Wolfgang Sachs, of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy and the former Chairman of Greenpeace, Germany.

I have long found it strange that we talk about “driving” cars and “riding” bicycles, when it fact it seems to me the opposite: when we operate cars, we take a more passive role, sitting (or slouching) and working the controls; whereas on a bicycle, the operator sits, stands, works every second, pedaling, and making micro-adjustments to balance and handling and interacting with the outside world directly. No glass, plastic or metal separates the cyclist from her surroundings, and every shred of power and maneuvering is her own. Therefore I think of us more as driving a bicycle while we ride in cars. And that is part of what Sachs’s statement, above, means to me.

two-wheeled thoughts: Frances Willard (part 2)

Tens of thousands who could never afford to own, feed and stable a horse, had by this bright invention enjoyed the swiftness of motion which is perhaps the most fascinating feature of material life.

–Frances Willard, suffragette and author of How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle.

Frances Willard lived before automobiles were common and well before our roadways were designed with cars in mind, but her concept here can easily be translated to the modern world.

[See an earlier Willard two-wheeled thought here.]

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