Being Bikes

It seems inevitable that as researchers, we sometimes become our projects. For quite some time now, I have felt as if I am biking. I do not mean this as a simple verb indicating that I am pedaling a two-wheeled machine. Rather, a fundamental part of how I am understood in much of my world revolves around the not-insignificant amounts of time I spend reading, writing, thinking, talking, using bikes. When my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances see something bike-related, they often send it my way. This is appreciated, and has helped me to grow my research archive significantly. When friends have a question about what bike to buy, how to fix a flat, or where to find trail rides, I’m their go-to.

Overall this is nice, and I enjoy my alliance to bicycling. But sometimes I want to resist. Because to quote the most famous doper of the moment, “It’s not about the bike.”

Similarly to many others, biking for me has always been about something other than a two-wheeled contraption. Biking is a tool, often a convivial one of the sort celebrated by Ivan Illich. On a daily basis, it gets me around town with minimal fuss. In the past, it has been a tool for exercise and exploration. When I came to Davis, it became a space to overcome my fear of basic mechanics and repair.  In my research, biking is a means through which to feel the traction between bodies, technology, and nature.

It’s not that I’m in love with biking, so much as I love what biking can do for me. It’s good to think with, be with, do with.

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