Who wants to read about that? Seriously, though, it seems like a natural fit for me, doesn’t it? I do Ragbrai every year, I love my precious bicycle, and biking is my favorite form of exercise. Yet, no one in my books or stories ever rides one. Not even briefly. They walk, they drive cars, they fly, they teleport, they ride horses.
1. I don’t understand my bike. It’s a nice bike, I know that much. It’s got a carbon fork and…um…a thingy that does a thing with a thing to make the stuff happen. Sure, I can see the gears and the chain, and I know how to put it together and take it apart and ride it. This year, the lovely people who packed my bike for me after Ragbrai saw fit to remove the derailleur, and I figured out how to put it back on with only minimal irritation. I still don’t know the names of all the parts and something magic happens in the tubes between the shifters and the gears. Let’s not even talk about the brakes, which are apparently not the In Thing in braking. Whatever that means.
2. Cycling is fun for two kinds of people. One kind is the person riding the bike. The other is this small group of…er…unusual people who avidly watch competitive cycling. For the first group, a written description is not what they’re looking for. For the second group, a written description is not what they’re looking for. It’s like writing about running. Sure, people do that, but only The Oatmeal can get people excited to read about it.
3. Bicycle crashes suuuuuuuck. They aren’t exciting unless you can watch it in slow motion and it involves a lot of people. Otherwise, it’s just a tire hitting something and a person hitting the ground. Or a car hitting a bike, which is awful and no one wants to see or read that. Ew. Or maybe everyone does but would feel bad about sucking up the details and relishing every little crunch and snap, then an artery rips open and blood spatters on the horrified (maniacal?) driver’s windshield. I wouldn’t want to make you feel bad for enjoying something so wicked.
4. Bicycle chase. Does this one need explanation? Yes, it’s [insert -ing verb here] to see a cyclist besieged by a wild animal. (Would using ‘exciting’ make me a jerk? How about ‘amusing’?) It’s also icky, because odds are good the cyclist will lose, especially if they have to go uphill. I suppose that would make a [insert adjective here] story within a story. “Poor Bob. He was biking up Mount Rainier when a bear chased him down and mauled him to death. This was his bike…”
In short, it’s boring and lame. I’m going to go ride my bicycle up a hill now, and I’ll revel in the glory of the endorphins crashing through my system with every revolution of my feet. When I crest that rise, I’ll see the sun as it peers over the mountains in the east, painting the puffy clouds with rosy orange and pink in a dazzling display. This morning was made to be grasped in both hands and have the marrow sucked out of its bones.
Lee French has published several fantasy and superhero novels, and is a member of the Edgewise Words Inn staff.