Monday, 1 September 2014

Balance and the act of riding a bus.

Dearest reader,
Please don't be alarmed by the lack of chronological continuity in my posts. Nor by the lack of anything about the Eurobike itself. I promise, I was really there. I saw a bunch of amazing stuff. And I will write all about it shortly. Heres proof.

Now I'd like to share a thought that I had on my lasts days of riding, nearly a week ago. Now that I'm on a bus back to Berlin. A theme that was strong at the Eurobike itself. An idea I strongly believe in. It's the idea of balance vs. competition. Let me elaborate in the form of a short series of narratives.


The three sisters
In ancient America there was a traditional farming practice of growing beans, corn and squash at the same time in the same soil. Called the "three sisters ", these crops thrive when grown together, have staggered harvest seasons and thus provide more sustinence per acre than even modern methods. It's not, however, mechanizable and thus loses the race in today's economy.

This was the most perfect apple tree in the world.

Photography and cycling
While doing a bike trip, you have goals set from the beginning. For me it was Berlin to Friedrichshafen in 10 days or less, such that I make it to the Eurobike by The 30th or earlier. That meant 100km /day average, and at the start of my trip this seemed like a realistic goal.
But as the trip went on, I realized I had many other goals as well. I wanted to blog each day and tell of my thoughts and experiences. I wanted to absorb the countryside and better understand Germany. I wanted to use Couchsurfing and get to know some people. And, although not a conscious goal at first but one that became increasingly important, I wanted to take the time to photograph things along the way that would entertain and inspire others. To tell a visual story of my trip and include everything that you, the reader of this blog, would want to see. To capture the imagination and let the viewer experience a bit of what I did, or if their imagination is healthy, perhaps even more.
These are a lot of goals, and they all take a bit of time. 100km a day isn't too much, but when you stop every 20 minutes, for 20 minutes, to take pictures, and take an extended lunch everyday to write in a blog, then 100km can take alllllllll day long. And it did.
There was a flock of sheep on a hill in Thüringen. Tending to the sheep was a shepherd in lederhosen with big, bushy black hair. I wanted to stop, take a picture. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to interview him and share a bit of his life with you. Has he always been a shepherd? What's it like acting out an ancient career in a modern world? But I had to keep going. I didn't have any more time to stop.
At some point I'd like to do a bike trip where the deciding goal is not to ride a certain distance each day, but to search for the amazing things around us and photograph them. To tell the most complete story possible. And let the distance travelled be merely a byproduct of the search for adventure.

No photoshop here, its a picture of a big banner with a room behind it with another big banner.

A trade show full of space explorers
The Eurobike is filled with space aged technology and colorful logos. The bicycles look like space ships. The style seems to vary between Marvin the Martian and Darth Vader. The clothes are covered in flashy logos and bright colors. The bikess are painted like warships from other planets.
All of this comes from a single culture; racing.  Racing: where your shirt is a billboard. Where your bike is a spectacle. Where it's about who's looking at you, not what you are looking at. Where the one and only goal is being fast. Coming in first.
What if you have multiple goals? What if your success is measured by multiple factors, not just one?
Imagine a professional cyclist who stops in the middle of a race to whip out his cell phone and take a picture. What the hell are you doing?  His manager would exclaim. I'm giving my fans a view from my perspective, so they can see what is like to be in a professional race! He would say. After all,  I'm pretty far ahead,  it doesn't really matter if I drop from 15th to 25th place. What matters is that my fans get a well rounded experience!
That wouldn't go over too well.
Now imagine someone doing a trip across the country. As you ride together, you see the most amazing waterfall with a rainbow. Hey,  let's stop and appreciate this!  You say. No way!  He says. I need to keep up my time!  Yesterday I finished in 6 hours and 35 min,  Today I'm trying to cut that down to 6 hours and 20 min.
What a moron!

you can see my anguish, having to experience Münchberg through a window

10 hours of riding the bus...
...seemed like an eternity, and yet 7 days of cycling flew by like no time at all. Why? Because the cycling was self gratifying. Every moment was both exercise, fresh air, adventure and meditation. The 7 days spent cycling were just that: 7 days of cycling.
Getting to the Eurobike was merely a byproduct of 7 days of cycling.
Comparing that to 10 hours of riding the bus. It seemed like an eternity. I hate riding the bus. There were no redeeming qualities to my bus ride back other than that it got me home.
So which took longer,  getting there,  or getting back?  Getting back took 10 hours. Getting there.. Well, I outsourced getting there. I externalized the cost. Getting there took no time at all. By virtue of cycling for so many other reasons, by the time I left I was ALREADY THERE.

Not the quickest way to travel, but entertains children at the same time. Yes, real steam power.

Balance and the act of riding a bicycle
To cycle you must have balance. Sometimes it requires better planning, not catering to impatience but rewarding foresight. Sometimes it is less comfortable, and constantly demands your performance and concentration. However, I firmly believe in a world where every action we undertake has multiple purposes. Where there is no such thing as a lost time or wasted resources. Where every investment we make is in itself gratifying, regardless of its success. Where our net productivity as people is enormously high, albeit not automatable.
This is all possible but not by running the race and competing. It is possible only by using balance.


Dearest reader,  the above post was written nearly a year ago and never finished nor published. Had completely forgotten about this post. So now I tube it to you, in its raw and unfinished form. Enjoy! 


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