19-Feb-2006

Cars Vs Bikes

In this Tripping on Bikes -2 post I said that travelling by car wouldn't be as much fun as going by bike, and let it go at that.

There is a book on my shelf which I bought in December 1994. I gave up after a hundred or so pages since it was a bit heavy on the brain. I started again and completed it a month ago. In it the author explains the difference much better than I did:
You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it's right there, so blurred you can't focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
Yeah, all that and the fact that I tend to fall asleep much more in a car and that it does tend to become a bit of a social occasion.

He goes on about his attitude to the trip itself and more common ground emerges:
... Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than to arrive anywhere. We are just vacationing. ... We want to make good time, but for us this is measured with emphasis on 'good' rather than 'time'... Twisting hilly roads are long in terms of seconds but are much more enjoyable on a (motor)cycle where you bank into turns and don't get swung from side to side in any compartment. Roads with little traffic are more enjoyable, as well as safer. Roads free of drive-ins and billboards are better, roads where groves and meadows and orchards and lawns come almost to the shoulder, where kids wave to you when you ride by, where people look from their porches to see who it is, where when you stop to ask directions or information the answer tends to be longer than you want rather than short, where people ask where you're from and how long you've been riding.
Couldn't agree more.

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