15 April 2008

Discussion of "cycle chic"

There has been a lot of defining and discussion lately about what it means to be a chic cyclist. In reading what people have to say I have to affirm more and more that I am not a chic cyclist, by other's definitions.

I've decided to take a stab at defining what it means to me:

Chic cycling is a personal statement, an expression of self which extends to everyday transport choices.

Being a chic cyclist is a subversive statement, a refusal to conform for the sake of conformity.

However, rather than being reactionary, chic cycling is a rational, examined position integrating an aesthetic and a lifestyle which are based on substance rather than marketing.

Relatedly, I don't care what your bike cost, your clothes cost, or their relative value to each other. I do care that you've thought about both and chosen each deliberately, rather than merely purchasing the "REI cyclist 2008 package" (10% off, if you act fast!).

To me cycle chic touches on the French notion of épanouie - it implies a self actualized person living in harmony with herself and her community (local and global), integrating both.

I don't care if you ride a road bike, a mountain bike, a townie, or a unicycle. I just want you to have a reason to ride that bike, and for the bike to reflect who you are personally. I see nothing wrong with Tom Boonen in lycra (yum!), baggy shorts on a mountain bike in Boulder, and elegant city cyclists in Copenhagen.

There is a good reason for all of the choices above and those underlying reasons are what make each deliberate choice cycle chic. Form follows function and until recently the true function of utility cycling was not deeply examined in America. Hurray for progress!

My notion of cycle chic is consistent with a very Boston quotation, one that I've tried to take as my own over-arching manifesto. This was written by William Henry Channing around 1920:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common
--this is my symphony.

Let me know what you think, and keep riding...

1 comment:

Porquin Panko said...

This kind of encapsulates why we both like our Bike Bureaus so much.

First visit. Will keep reading. Lovely post.