Bicycle Ride Quotes

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
Albert Einstein
Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone's hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted--wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don't look at me. If you don't, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.
Susan B. Anthony
I thought of that while riding my bicycle.
Albert Einstein
One of the greatest myths in the world - & the phrase 'greatest myths' is just a fancy way of saying 'big fat lies' -- is that troublesome things get less & less troublesome if you do them more & more. People say this myth when they are teaching children to ride bicycles, for instance, as though falling off a bicycle & skinning your knee is less troublesome the fourteenth time you do it than it is the first time. The truth is that troublesome things tend to remain troublesome no matter how many times you do them, & that you should avoid doing them unless they are absolutely urgent.
Lemony Snicket (The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #6))
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Ernest Hemingway (By-Line: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades)
When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of very part of your life.
Brian Tracy
Of course we did other things too. We walked. We talked. We rode bikes. Though I had my driver's license, I bought a cheap secondhand bicycle so I could ride with her. Sometimes she led the way, sometimes I did. Whenever we could, we rode side by side. She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day. She taught me to revel. She taught me to wonder. She taught me to laugh. My sense of humor had always measured up to everyone else's; but timid introverted me, I showed it sparingly: I was a smiler. In her presence I threw back my head and laughed out loud for the first time in my life
Jerry Spinelli (Stargirl (Stargirl, #1))
Life is like riding a bicycle. You get nowhere standing up, so get up on that seat and go!
Lynne Ewing (Moon Demon (Daughters of the Moon, #7))
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. —ALBERT EINSTEIN, IN A LETTER TO HIS SON EDUARD, FEBRUARY 5, 1930
Walter Isaacson (Einstein: His Life and Universe)
No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs--anything--but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.
Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)
When I was little, I was out riding my brand-new blue bicycle when I decided to see how far I could keep going without looking back even once. I could feel with my back how my neighborhood was receding, further and further away... but I kept pedaling with all my might, my mind almost going blank. All I could hear was the sound of my own heart, thumping wildly in my ears. Even now, I remember it sometimes. What exactly was I trying to do that day? What was it that I wanted to prove? It's no good. My mind just keeps fogging over. I have this irritating sound stuck in my head. What is it? This sound... Ohh... I know what it is. This is... the sound of emptiness.
Chica Umino (Honey and Clover, Vol. 7)
To ride a bicycle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bicycle is the product of pure reason applied to motion. Geometry at the service of man! Give me two spheres and a straight line and I will show you how far I can take them. Voltaire himself might have invented the bicycle, since it contributes so much to man’s welfare and nothing at all to his bane. Beneficial to the health, it emits no harmful fumes and permits only the most decorous speeds. How can a bicycle ever be an implement of harm?
Angela Carter
The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles...when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.
Flann O'Brien (The Third Policeman)
Grades are a problem. On the most general level, they're an explicit acknowledgment that what you're doing is insufficiently interesting or rewarding for you to do it on your own. Nobody ever gave you a grade for learning how to play, how to ride a bicycle, or how to kiss. One of the best ways to destroy love for any of these activities would be through the use of grades, and the coercion and judgment they represent. Grades are a cudgel to bludgeon the unwilling into doing what they don't want to do, an important instrument in inculcating children into a lifelong subservience to whatever authority happens to be thrust over them.
Derrick Jensen
Eating a plain bagel with no cream cheese is like eating the inner tube of a bicycle tire, and I’d rather ride my roller skates to work.
Jarod Kintz (This Book is Not for Sale)
Every time you miss your childhood, ride on a bicycle!
Mehmet Murat ildan
We must plant trees, grow gardens instead of lawns, ride bicycles when we can and support responsible local businesses over big brands.
Bryant McGill (Voice of Reason)
Some things are just like riding a bicycle; you jump on, pedal, and hope you don’t fall.
Henry Mosquera (Sleeper's Run)
Please, Tom. You can't ride your bicycle across the country alone. It's insane. You'll end up being slaughtered by a serial killer." "Taryn, I'm thiry-five, single, tattooed, and antisocial. I'M the serial killer.
Ruthie Knox (Ride with Me)
The question the doubter does not ask is whether faith was really useless or simply not used. What would you think of a boy who gave up learning to ride a bicycle, complaining that he hurt himself because his bicycle stopped moving so he had no choice but to fall off? If he wanted to sit comfortably while remaining stationary, he should not have chosen a bicycle but a chair. Similarly faith must be put to use, or it will become useless.
Os Guinness (God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt)
Breathing is like riding a bicycle.
Ilona Andrews (Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7))
As one does a bear riding a bicycle. One sees it so rarely. (Spoken by Volger, on Deryn)
Scott Westerfeld
I always wear roller skates when I ride my bicycle. The more wheels the better, and that's what makes me a better lover. You know you want to go for a spin. I'll bring the record player, if you bring 1982 and her little sister, Elton John.
Jarod Kintz (This Book is Not for Sale)
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
Ernest Hemingway
Horses are of a breed unique to Fantasyland. They are capable of galloping full-tilt all day without a rest. Sometimes they do not require food or water. They never cast shoes, go lame or put their hooves down holes, except when the Management deems it necessary, as when the forces of the Dark Lord are only half an hour behind. They never otherwise stumble. Nor do they ever make life difficult for Tourists by biting or kicking their riders or one another. They never resist being mounted or blow out so that their girths slip, or do any of the other things that make horses so chancy in this world. For instance, they never shy and seldom whinny or demand sugar at inopportune moments. But for some reason you cannot hold a conversation while riding them. If you want to say anything to another Tourist (or vice versa), both of you will have to rein to a stop and stand staring out over a valley while you talk. Apart from this inexplicable quirk, horses can be used just like bicycles, and usually are. Much research into how these exemplary animals come to exist has resulted in the following: no mare ever comes into season on the Tour and no stallion ever shows an interest in a mare; and few horses are described as geldings. It therefore seems probable that they breed by pollination. This theory seems to account for everything, since it is clear that the creatures do behave more like vegetables than mammals. Nomads appears to have a monopoly on horse-breeding. They alone possess the secret of how to pollinate them.
Diana Wynne Jones (The Tough Guide to Fantasyland)
Riding a bicycle makes you impotent. That’s why I carry a bicycle seat in my pocket—because it’s better than wearing a condom.
Jarod Kintz (The Merits of Marthaism, and How Being Named Susan Can Benefit You)
Last week I forgot how to ride a bicycle.
Steven Wright
For from this day forward his world can only widen. An existence that began in a crib, grew to a house, and extends over a two-block bicycle ride will now go even beyond that. I will share him with another woman, other adults, other children, other opinions, other points of view. I am no longer leading. I am standing behind him ready to guide from a new position.
Erma Bombeck (At Wit's End)
Writing is like riding a bicycle: you don’t forget how, even if you go for years without doing it.
Isabel Allende (Maya's Notebook)
Everyone would remember Peter for nineteen minutes of his life, but what about the other nine million? Lacy would be the keeper of those, because it was the only way for that part of Peter to stay alive. For every recollection of him that involved a bullet or a scream, she would have a hundred others: of a little boy splashing in a pond, or riding a bicycle for the first time, or waving from the top of a jungle gym. Of a kiss good night, or a crayoned Mother's Day card, or a voice off-key in the shower. She would string them together - the moments when her child had been just like other people's. She would wear them, precious pearls, every day of her life; because if she lost them, then the boy she had loved and raised and known would really be gone.
Jodi Picoult (Nineteen Minutes)
Life is like riding a bicycle, you don't fall off unless you stop pedaling.
Claude Pepper
taking in information is only distantly related to real learning. It would be nonsensical to say, “I just read a great book about bicycle riding—I’ve now learned that.
Peter M. Senge (The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization)
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel.
Susan B. Anthony
She rode a bicycle. It was unwomanly, then, to ride a bicycle. There were so many things, in those days, that were unwomanly to do. It must have been quite difficult to be a woman, and remain so day after day.
Jerome K. Jerome (Complete Works of Jerome K. Jerome)
I sing your restless longing for the statue, your fear of the feelings that await you in the street. I sing the small sea siren who sings to you, riding her bicycle of corals and conches. But above all I sing a common thought that joins us in the dark and golden hours. The light that blinds our eyes is not art. Rather it is love, friendship, crossed swords.
Federico García Lorca
The things that stop you having sex with age are exactly the same as those that stop you riding a bicycle.
Alex Comfort (The Joy of Sex)
LIFE IS LIKE RIDING A BICYCLE … It’s hard and sweaty and surprisingly tough on your genitals. Also, you’re going to fall a lot.
Jenny Lawson (Broken (In the Best Possible Way))
Why shouldn't it be that way for the rest of us? Why not just go with it? Just walk the dog and send the tweets and eat the scones and play with the hamsters and ride the bicycles and watch the sunsets and stream the movies and never worry about any of it? I didn't know it could be that easy. I didn't know that until just now. That sounds good to me.
Joshua Ferris (To Rise Again at a Decent Hour)
Mileage craziness is a serious condition that exists in many forms. It can hit unsuspecting travelers while driving cars, motorcycles, riding in planes, crossing the country on bicycles or on foot. The symptoms may lead to obsessively placing more importance on how many miles are traveled than on the real reason for the traveling...On foot, in a van, on a fleet motorcycle or on a bicycle, a person must be very careful not to become overly concerned with arriving.
Peter Jenkins (A Walk Across America)
The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of, as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones. Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag, and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay. Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen. It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle. No wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
Billy Collins
We do not tend to be afraid of the things that are most likely to harm us. We drive around in cars, a lot. We drink alcohol, we ride bicycles, we sit too much. And we harbor anxiety about things that, statistically speaking, pose us little danger. We fear sharks, while mosquitoes are, in terms of sheer numbers of lives lost, probably the most dangerous creature on earth.
Eula Biss (On Immunity: An Inoculation)
And, I think, this greening does thaw at the edges, at least, of my own cold season. Joy sneaks in: listening to music, riding my bicycle, I catch myself feeling, in a way that’s as old as I am but suddenly seems unfamiliar, light. I have felt so heavy for so long. At first I felt odd- as if I shouldn’t be feeling this lightness, that familiar little catch of pleasure in the heart which is inexplicable, though a lovely passage of notes or the splendidly turned petal of a tulip has triggered it. It’s my buoyancy, part of what keeps me alive: happy, suddenly with the concomitant experience of a sonata and the motion of the shadows of leaves. I have the desire to be filled with sunlight, to soak my skin in as much of it as I can drink up, after the long interior darkness of this past season, the indoor vigil, in this harshest and darkest of winters, outside and in.
Mark Doty (Heaven's Coast: A Memoir)
Some days,' I say, 'I feel like I don't belong anywhere in that world. That world out there. 'I point to Grant. 'People walk down our street and people drive down it and people ride their bicycles down it and all of them, even the ones I know, could be from another planet. And I'm a visiting alien.' And aliens don't belong anywhere,' Adam finishes for me, 'except in their own little corners of the universe.' Right,' I say. ~pgs 57-58 Hattie and Adam on alienation
Ann M. Martin
It's just like riding a bicycle. If you fall off, it hurts like hell.
Sarah Noffke (Defects (The Reverians, #1))
I still do not know what impels anyone sound of mind to leave dry land and spend a lifetime describing people who do not exist. If it is child's play, an extension of make believe - something one is frequently assured by people who write about writing - how to account for the overriding wish to do that, just that, only that, and consider it as rational an occupation as riding a bicycle over the Alps?
Mavis Gallant (The Selected Stories Of Mavis Gallant)
Everything about riding a bicycle compels you towards beauty.
BikeSnobNYC (Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling)
I want to buy a sports car, because I like riding bicycles. Hold on to my handlebar mustache if you value your life.
Jarod Kintz (This Book Has No Title)
She was thirteen, the daughter of a bicycle mechanic, and she couldn't ride this bicycle. It fought her; it threw her; it hated her.
Kate Milford (The Boneshaker (The Boneshaker #1))
Life is like riding a bicycle. You must keep moving to maintain the balance.
Albert Einstein
To ride a bicycle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bicycle is the product of pure reason applied to motion.
Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories)
I had to ride slow because I was taking my guerrilla route, the one I follow when I assume that everyone in a car is out to get me. My nighttime attitude is, anyone can run you down and get away with it. Why give some drunk the chance to plaster me against a car? That's why I don't even own a bike light, or one of those godawful reflective suits. Because if you've put yourself in a position where someone has to see you in order for you to be safe--to see you, and to give a fuck--you've already blown it... We had a nice ride through the darkness. On those bikes we were weak and vulnerable, but invisible, elusive, aware of everything within a two-block radius.
Neal Stephenson (Zodiac)
For my own part, I was much occupied in learning to ride the bicycle, and busy upon a series of papers discussing the probable developments of moral ideas as civilization progressed.
H.G. Wells
The World Has Need Of You” everything here seems to need us —Rainer Maria Rilke I can hardly imagine it as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient prayer of my arms swinging in counterpoint to my feet. Here I am, suspended between the sidewalk and twilight, the sky dimming so fast it seems alive. What if you felt the invisible tug between you and everything? A boy on a bicycle rides by, his white shirt open, flaring behind him like wings. It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much and too little. Does the breeze need us? The cliffs? The gulls? If you’ve managed to do one good thing, the ocean doesn’t care. But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth, the earth, ever so slightly, fell toward the apple.
Ellen Bass (Like a Beggar)
Bicycles are sometimes kindly accommodated by cars, often ignored, occasionally respected, sometimes nervously followed, and frequently not even seen. In this sense, riding in traffic is not unlike being a woman among men.
Eula Biss (Having and Being Had)
seven. seven was when ethan had learned to ride a bicycle. macon was visited by one of those memories that dent the skin, that strain the muscles. he felt the seat of ethan's bike pressing into his hand--the curled-under edge at the rear that you hold onto when you're trying to keep a bicycle upright. he felt the sidewalk slapping against his soles as he ran. he felt himself let go, slow to a walk, stop with his hands on his hips to call out, "you've got her now! you've got her!" and ethan rode away from him, strong and proud and straight-backed, his hair picking up the light till he passed beneath and oak tree.
Anne Tyler (The Accidental Tourist)
Of course we did other things too. We walked. We talked. We rode bikes. Though I had my driver's license, I bought a cheap secondhand bicycle so I could ride with her. Sometimes she led the way, sometimes I did. Whenever we could, we rode side by side. She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day. She taught me to revel. She taught me to wonder. She taught me to laugh. My sense of humor had always measured up to everyone else's; but timid introverted me, I showed it sparingly: I was a smiler. In her presence I threw back my head and laughed out loud for the first time in my life. She saw things. I had not known there was so much to see. She was forever tugging my arm and saying, "Look!" I would look around, seeing nothing. "Where?" She would point. "There." In the beginning I still could not see. She might be pointing to a doorway, or a person, or the sky. But such things were so common to my eyes, so undistinguished, that they would register as "nothing" I walked in a gray world of nothing.
Jerry Spinelli (Stargirl (Stargirl, #1))
So there is something perhaps more difficult to conceive of, sometimes born of resignation and sometimes not- a life in which not getting it is the point and not the problem; in which the project is to learn how not to ride the bicycle, how not to understand the poem. Or to put it the other way round, this would be a life in which getting it – the will to get it, the ambition to get it – was the problem; in which wanting to be an accomplice didn’t take precedence over making up one’s mind.
Adam Phillips (Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life)
Just as with swimming or riding a bike, you can't really learn how to fall in love from reading a book not even this one. Sure you can read about the different swimming strokes or the parts of a bicycle; you can learn the theory and physics behind the sport. But to get to the heart of the matter you've got to leap in and learn by doing.
Nicholas Boothman (How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You in 90 Minutes or Less)
When Seymour and I were five and three, Les and Bessie played on the same bill for a couple of weeks with Joe Jackson -- the redoubtable Joe Jackson of the nickel-plated trick bicycle that shone like something better than platinum to the very last row of the theater. A good many years later, not long after the outbreak of the Second World War, when Seymour and I had just recently moved into a small New York apartment of our own, our father -- Les, as he'll be called hereafter -- dropped in on us one evening on his way home from a pinochle game. He quite apparently had held very bad cards all afternoon. He came in, at any rate, rigidly predisposed to keep his overcoat on. He sat. He scowled at the furnishings. He turned my hand over to check for cigarette-tar stains on my fingers, then asked Seymour how many cigarettes he smoked a day. He thought he found a fly in his highball. At length, when the conversation -- in my view, at least -- was going straight to hell, he got up abruptly and went over to look at a photograph of himself and Bessie that had been newly tacked up on the wall. He glowered at it for a full minute, or more, then turned around, with a brusqueness no one in the family would have found unusual, and asked Seymour if he remembered the time Joe Jackson had given him, Seymour, a ride on the handle bars of his bicycle, all over the stage, around and around. Seymour, sitting in an old corduroy armchair across the room, a cigarette going, wearing a blue shirt, gray slacks, moccasins with the counters broken down, a shaving cut on the side of his face that I could see, replied gravely and at once, and in the special way he always answered questions from Les -- as if they were the questions, above all others, he preferred to be asked in his life. He said he wasn't sure he had ever got off Joe Jackson's beautiful bicycle.
J.D. Salinger (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction)
This 'web of discourses' as Robyn called it...is as much a biological product as any of the other constructions to be found in the animal world. (Clothes too, are part of the extended phenotype of Homo Sapiens almost every niche inhabited by that species.An illustrated encyclopedia of zoology should no more picture Homo Sapiens naked than it should picture Ursus arctus-the black bear- wearing a clown suit and riding a bicycle.
Daniel C. Dennett (Consciousness Explained)
the way. The knowledge of how to swim or ride a bicycle cannot be passed along, or taught in a seminar-it must be
Steve Chandler (Reinventing Yourself: How To Become The Person You've Always Wanted To Be)
You’re like the town bicycle. You give rides. You don’t date.
M. Leighton (Pocketful of Sand)
Miss Edi: My brother Bertrand is the laziest person in the world. David: Oh yeah? And how lazy is that? Miss Edi: When he was three and saw all his gifts under the Christmas tree, he said, 'Who's going to open them for me?' David: I've heard worse. Miss Edi: When he was six, my father bought him a bicycle and took him out to teach him to ride it. David: And? Miss Edi: Bertrand did very well. My father ran along behind him, holding on, and my brother balanced perfectly. But when my father let go and the bicycle stopped, Bertrand asked why. When my father said he had to push on the pedals, my brother left it lying there in the street, and he never got on a bicycle again. David: Not bad, but I've heard worse. Miss Edi: When he was twelve, my parents took us out to a restaurant, the first one we'd ever been to, and my father ordered steaks for each of us. When my brother's came, he looked at it and asked how he was to eat it. My father showed him how to cut the steak, then how to chew it. My brother called the waiter back and ordered a bowl of mashed potatoes. David: Okay, that's getting up there, but I have heard a few worse. Miss Edi: When he was sixteen, my mother arranged for her beloved son to go to a dance with a very nice young girl. He was to pick her up at six pm. At six-thirty Bertrand was sitting in the living room and my father asked him why he hadn't gone on his date. My brother said, 'Because she hasn't come to get me yet.
Jude Deveraux (Lavender Morning (Edilean, #1))
It targets explicit memories, like your name, where you grew up, your first teacher's name, and leaves implicit memories- like how to speak or tie your shoes or ride a bicycle- untouched.
Veronica Roth (Allegiant (Divergent, #3))
Suddenly, she gave a little half-smile and whispered dreamily; "When I was a little girl, here for the summer, I used to ride my bicycle to Mass." I know; the Karê wanted to say. I used to watch you.
L.J. Maas (Meridio's Daughter)
In the matter of learned skills, memory comes to a fork in the road. Down one branch are the it’s-like-riding-a-bicycle skills; things which, once learned, are almost never forgotten. But the creative, ever-changing forebrain skills have to be practiced almost daily, and they are easily damaged or destroyed.
Stephen King (Duma Key)
When people recover from depression via psychotherapy, their attributions about recovery are likely to be different than those of people who have been treated with medication. Psychotherapy is a learning experience. Improvement is not produced by an external substance, but by changes within the person. It is like learning to read, write or ride a bicycle. Once you have learned, the skills stays with you. People no not become illiterate after they graduate from school, and if they get rusty at riding a bicycle, the skill can be acquired with relatively little practice. Furthermore, part of what a person might learn in therapy is to expect downturns in mood and to interpret them as a normal part of their life, rather than as an indication of an underlying disorder. This understanding, along with the skills that the person has learned for coping with negative moods and situations, can help to prevent a depressive relapse.
Irving Kirsch (The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth)
Every time I got on my bicycle after a long hiatus it was like riding back to myself, the only way there. The dissipation of life in the city—days of to-do lists, errands, emails, small talk with strangers—generated static in my mind that I didn’t notice was there until I started pedalling and realized it was gone, the way you don’t hear the hum of a refrigerator until it stops. Such is the paradoxical freedom of cycling the Silk Road. In restricting the range of directions you can travel, in charging ordinary movement with momentum, a bike trip offers that rarest, most elusive of things in our frenetic world: clarity of purpose. Your sole responsibility on Earth, as long as your legs last each day, is to breathe, pedal, breathe—and look around.
Kate Harris (Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road)
This morning, Ray Bradbury is dead and there is only soy milk at my coffee shop. I do not know which to be more sad about, that my body and I are suddenly uncomfortable or that a man I have never met, far away, has stopped breathing. My heartbeat will end one day. It is a miracle it’s lasted this long, not because I have wished it otherwise, but because my car keeps overheating. My car is huge compared to my heart. A writing prompt, given to me on a bicycle ride last week: “What is the most dangerous thing you’ve done lately, and why?” I climbed the Pillsbury building, because I wanted to, because I could, or because I was bored, or because I know how, because I know that wearing dark blue at night makes you look like a cloud. Ray Bradbury’s heart is not beating anymore. The Pillsbury building is so big compared to his heart, but this morning he is dead and there is only soy milk at my coffee shop.
Lewis Mundt
When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I
Sam Heughan (Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other)
Language is the gateway to the human world. (...) Language is far older than civilization. (...) The fact that it is possible to teach apes to ride bicycles, but impossible to teach them to talk, suggests that it is the use of language rather than the use of tools which is the essential characteristic of humanity. The word, not the sword or the spade, is the power that has created human culture.
Christopher Henry Dawson (The Formation of Christendom)
All right, here comes the philosophy. You can leave if you like but I suggest you stick it out. You don’t measure your own success against the size or volume of the effect you’re having. You gauge it from the difference you make to the subject you’re working on. Is leading an army that wins a war really that much more satisfying than teaching a four-year-old to ride a bicycle? At our age,” she said, “you go for the small things and you do them as well as you can.” In the back of the pony trap, squashed beside his two large boxes, Siri still felt Daeng’s lip prints on his cheek and heard her whisper, “Go for the small things and do them well.” It would be his new mantra. Forget the planet, save the garden.
Colin Cotterill (Anarchy and Old Dogs (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #4))
The Dutch life is beautifully attuned to the deliberate pace of bicycle riding. It has the same calm and slow rhythm which allows the Hollander time off for coffee in the middle of the morning, for tea in the afternoon, and tea again in the evening. . . . To a Dutchman a bicycle becomes a matter of individual expression, almost a part of the body, controlled subconsciously and leaving him free to meditation. There is no noise, no smell of gasoline, so he can notice little things like birds and flowers, which the automobilized American leaves in the roar and dust. An
Pete Jordan (In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist)
When girls like us fall, there’s no one to catch us. Least of all that boy for whom we’ve taken the fall. We’re the girls with secrets and witchy hearts. We’re the girls who listen to sad songs. Who slow dance to them with tears streaming down our faces, even as a smile lingers on our lips. Who cry in our pillows at night and who ride our sunshine-yellow bicycle along the empty, desolate, miserable places, where no one goes.
Saffron A. Kent (My Darling Arrow (St. Mary’s Rebels, #1))
Viola had a harrowing story about riding a bicycle west out of the burnt-out ruins of a Connecticut suburb, aged fifteen, harboring vague notions of California but set upon by passersby long before she got there, grievously harmed, joining up with other half feral teenagers in a marauding gang and then slipping away from them, walking alone for a hundred miles, whispering French to herself because all the horror in her life had transpired in English and she thought switching languages might save her, wandering into a town through which the Symphony passed five years later.
Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven)
Although so young, he is also rational. He has chosen the most rational mode of transport in the world for his trip round the Carpathians. To ride a bicycle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bicycle is the product of pure reason applied to motion. Geometry at the service of man! Give me two spheres and a straight line and I will show you how far I can take them. Voltaire himself might have invented the bicycle, since it contributes so much to man's welfare and nothing at all to his bane. Beneficial to the health, it emits no harmful fumes and permits only the most decorous speeds. How can a bicycle ever be an implement of harm?
Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories)
Language as a Prison The Philippines did have a written language before the Spanish colonists arrived, contrary to what many of those colonists subsequently claimed. However, it was a language that some theorists believe was mainly used as a mnemonic device for epic poems. There was simply no need for a European-style written language in a decentralized land of small seaside fishing villages that were largely self-sufficient. One theory regarding language is that it is primarily a useful tool born out of a need for control. In this theory written language was needed once top-down administration of small towns and villages came into being. Once there were bosses there arose a need for written language. The rise of the great metropolises of Ur and Babylon made a common written language an absolute necessity—but it was only a tool for the administrators. Administrators and rulers needed to keep records and know names— who had rented which plot of land, how many crops did they sell, how many fish did they catch, how many children do they have, how many water buffalo? More important, how much then do they owe me? In this account of the rise of written language, naming and accounting seem to be language's primary "civilizing" function. Language and number are also handy for keeping track of the movement of heavenly bodies, crop yields, and flood cycles. Naturally, a version of local oral languages was eventually translated into symbols as well, and nonadministrative words, the words of epic oral poets, sort of went along for the ride, according to this version. What's amazing to me is that if we accept this idea, then what may have begun as an instrument of social and economic control has now been internalized by us as a mark of being civilized. As if being controlled were, by inference, seen as a good thing, and to proudly wear the badge of this agent of control—to be able to read and write—makes us better, superior, more advanced. We have turned an object of our own oppression into something we now think of as virtuous. Perfect! We accept written language as something so essential to how we live and get along in the world that we feel and recognize its presence as an exclusively positive thing, a sign of enlightenment. We've come to love the chains that bind us, that control us, for we believe that they are us (161-2).
David Byrne (Bicycle Diaries)
Along with the greening of May came the rain. Then the clouds disappeared and a soft pale lightness fell over the city, as if Kyoto had broken free of its tethers and lifted up toward the sun. The mornings were as dewy and verdant as a glass of iced green tea. The nights folded into pencil-gray darkness fragrant with white flowers. And everyone's mood seemed buoyant, happy, and carefree. When I wasn't teaching or studying tea kaiseki, I would ride my secondhand pistachio-green bicycle to favorite places to capture the fleeting lushness of Kyoto in a sketchbook. With a small box of Niji oil pastels, I would draw things that Zen pots had long ago described in words and I did not want to forget: a pond of yellow iris near a small Buddhist temple; a granite urn in a forest of bamboo; and a blue creek reflecting the beauty of heaven, carrying away a summer snowfall of pink blossoms. Sometimes, I would sit under the shade of a willow tree at the bottom of my street, doing nothing but listening to the call of cuckoos, while reading and munching on carrots and boiled egg halves smeared with mayonnaise and wrapped in crisp sheets of nori. Never before had such simple indulgences brought such immense pleasure.
Victoria Abbott Riccardi (Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto)
The beach was hours away by bicycle, forbidden, completely out of all bounds. Going there risked expulsion, destroyed the studying I was going to do for an important test the next morning, blasted the reasonable amount of order I wanted to maintain in my life, and it also involved the kind of long, labored bicycle ride I hated. “All right,” I said. We got our bikes and slipped away from Devon along a back road. Having invited me Finny now felt he had to keep me entertained. He told long, wild stories about his childhood; as I pumped panting up steep hills he glided along beside me, joking steadily. He analyzed my character, and he insisted on knowing what I disliked most about him (“You’re too conventional,” I said).
John Knowles (A Separate Peace)
The language we speak, the beliefs we hold-both good and bad-are passed from generation to generation through experience. And so many aspects of the human experience are invented-as opposed to simply springing up from our genes. Ten thousand years ago, humankind had the genetic potential to read a book, yet not one single human on the planet could read; the genetic potential to play the piano existed, yet not one person could play; the genetic potential to dunk a basketball, type a sentence, ride a bicycle-all that potential existed, but it all remained unexpressed. Humankind, more than any other species, can take the accumulated, distilled experiences of previous generations and pass these inventions, beliefs, and skills to the next generation. This is sociocultural evolution. We learn from our elders, and we invent, and we pass what we’ve learned and invented to the next generations. And the organ that allows this is the human brain-specifically, the cortex. As we’ve said before, the cortex is the most uniquely human part of our body, and, no surprise, it gives rise to the most uniquely human capabilities: speech, language, abstract thinking, reflecting on the past, planning for the future. Our hopes, dreams, and a major part of our worldview are mediated by our cortex.
Bruce D. Perry (What Happened To You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing)
William Wordsworth was said to have walked 180,000 miles in his lifetime. Charles Dickens captured the ecstasy of near-madness and insomnia in the essay “Night Walks” and once said, “The sum of the whole is this: Walk and be happy; Walk and be healthy.” Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of “the great fellowship of the Open Road” and the “brief but priceless meetings which only trampers know.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said, “Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value.” More recently, writers who knew the benefits of striking out excoriated the apathetic public, over and over again, for its laziness. “Of course, people still walk,” wrote a journalist in Saturday Night magazine in 1912. “That is, they shuffle along on their own pins from the door to the street car or taxi-cab…. But real walking … is as extinct as the dodo.” “They say they haven’t time to walk—and wait fifteen minutes for a bus to carry them an eighth of a mile,” wrote Edmund Lester Pearson in 1925. “They pretend that they are rushed, very busy, very energetic; the fact is, they are lazy. A few quaint persons—boys chiefly—ride bicycles.
Ben Montgomery (Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail)
To address this, we must wage a war on the militants. First, we must make it an offence, punishable by many years in jail, to ride a bicycle in anything other than what I like to call home clothes. Cycling shops selling gel for your bottom crack and outfits with padded gussets will be raided by the police and the owners prosecuted. This way, cyclists will be stripped of their uniforms and made to look like human beings.
Jeremy Clarkson (Is It Really Too Much To Ask? (World according to Clarkson, #5))
1 The summer our marriage failed we picked sage to sweeten our hot dark car. We sat in the yard with heavy glasses of iced tea, talking about which seeds to sow when the soil was cool. Praising our large, smooth spinach leaves, free this year of Fusarium wilt, downy mildew, blue mold. And then we spoke of flowers, and there was a joke, you said, about old florists who were forced to make other arrangements. Delphiniums flared along the back fence. All summer it hurt to look at you. 2 I heard a woman on the bus say, “He and I were going in different directions.” As if it had something to do with a latitude or a pole. Trying to write down how love empties itself from a house, how a view changes, how the sign for infinity turns into a noose for a couple. Trying to say that weather weighed down all the streets we traveled on, that if gravel sinks, it keeps sinking. How can I blame you who kneeled day after day in wet soil, pulling slugs from the seedlings? You who built a ten-foot arch for the beans, who hated a bird feeder left unfilled. You who gave carrots to a gang of girls on bicycles. 3 On our last trip we drove through rain to a town lit with vacancies. We’d come to watch whales. At the dock we met five other couples—all of us fluorescent, waterproof, ready for the pitch and frequency of the motor that would lure these great mammals near. The boat chugged forward—trailing a long, creamy wake. The captain spoke from a loudspeaker: In winter gray whales love Laguna Guerrero; it’s warm and calm, no killer whales gulp down their calves. Today we’ll see them on their way to Alaska. If we get close enough, observe their eyes—they’re bigger than baseballs, but can only look down. Whales can communicate at a distance of 300 miles—but it’s my guess they’re all saying, Can you hear me? His laughter crackled. When he told us Pink Floyd is slang for a whale’s two-foot penis, I stopped listening. The boat rocked, and for two hours our eyes were lost in the waves—but no whales surfaced, blowing or breaching or expelling water through baleen plates. Again and again you patiently wiped the spray from your glasses. We smiled to each other, good troopers used to disappointment. On the way back you pointed at cormorants riding the waves— you knew them by name: the Brants, the Pelagic, the double-breasted. I only said, I’m sure whales were swimming under us by the dozens. 4 Trying to write that I loved the work of an argument, the exhaustion of forgiving, the next morning, washing our handprints off the wineglasses. How I loved sitting with our friends under the plum trees, in the white wire chairs, at the glass table. How you stood by the grill, delicately broiling the fish. How the dill grew tall by the window. Trying to explain how camellias spoil and bloom at the same time, how their perfume makes lovers ache. Trying to describe the ways sex darkens and dies, how two bodies can lie together, entwined, out of habit. Finding themselves later, tired, by a fire, on an old couch that no longer reassures. The night we eloped we drove to the rainforest and found ourselves in fog so thick our lights were useless. There’s no choice, you said, we must have faith in our blindness. How I believed you. Trying to imagine the road beneath us, we inched forward, honking, gently, again and again.
Dina Ben-Lev
Likewise—now don’t laugh—cars and trucks should view the bike lanes as if they are sacrosanct. A driver would never think of riding up on a sidewalk. Most drivers, anyway. Hell, there are strollers and little old ladies up there! It would be unthinkable, except in action movies. A driver would get a serious fine or maybe even get locked up. Everyone around would wonder who that asshole was. Well, bike lanes should be treated the same way. You wouldn’t park your car or pull over for a stop on the sidewalk, would you? Well then, don’t park in the bike lanes either—that forces cyclists into traffic where poor little meat puppets don’t stand a chance.
David Byrne (Bicycle Diaries)
The second I get into a car and we start driving, I imagine a fatal crash to the last detail. When I’m in the liquor store, I imagine a robbery by the time the cashier tells me the total. Every plane ride is an 8-hour movie in my head of me planning what I would say to the stranger on my right if the pilot announced the plane was crashing. I always imagine these scenarios. Family dying. Earthquakes. The earth suddenly falling because gravity left the party. It’s exhausting. Yesterday someone was afraid of me. I was bicycling with Austin and we saw a dead deer on the road. It was so large. Austin nearly fell off his bike when he saw it. Then he looked over at me confused. He asked why I didn't react to it. I told him it was because I’d already imagined one six miles back. There are always two worlds playing in my head at once: what’s in front of me and what could be.
Kristian Ventura (The Goodbye Song)
I call it “pedal magic” and only those who ride know the utter ecstasy of bicycling. Pressing a pedal toward Earth gives flight to my fancy. Every rotation powers my traveling machine toward yet another date with destiny. The breeze clears my senses. The wind blows away my troubles. The sun shines upon my future. Spinning spokes create flashing metal upon an endless path—cycling feels like an infinite spiritual rush. It cleanses my mind. All my troubles fade into joy.
Frosty Wooldridge
On Persephone," informed Harrison, "a long-shanked Milik offered me a twenty-karat, blue-tinted, first-water diamond for my bike." "Jeepers, didn't you take it?" "What was the good? I'd have had to go back sixteen light-years for another bike." "But, man, you could exist without a bike for a while." "I can exist without a diamond. I can't ride around on a diamond." "Neither can you sell a bicycle for the price of a sportster Moonboat." "Yes, I can. I just told you this Milik offered me a rock like an egg.
Eric Frank Russell (The Great Explosion: The comedy scifi libertarian classic)
In interviews with riders that I've read and in conversations that I've had with them, the same thing always comes up: the best part was the suffering. In Amsterdam I once trained with a Canadian rider who was living in Holland. A notorious creampuff: in the sterile art of track racing he was Canadian champion in at least six disciplines, but when it came to toughing it out on the road he didn't have the character. The sky turned black, the water in the ditch rippled, a heavy storm broke loose. The Canadian sat up straight, raised his arms to heaven and shouted: 'Rain! Soak me! Ooh, rain, soak me, make me wet!' How can that be: suffering is suffering, isn't it? In 1910, Milan—San Remo was won by a rider who spent half an hour in a mountain hut, hiding from a snowstorm. Man, did he suffer! In 1919, Brussels—Amiens was won by a rider who rode the last forty kilometers with a flat front tire. Talk about suffering! He arrived at 11.30 at night, with a ninety-minute lead on the only other two riders who finished the race. The day had been like night, trees had whipped back and forth, farmers were blown back into their barns, there were hailstones, bomb craters from the war, crossroads where the gendarmes had run away, and riders had to climb onto one another's shoulders to wipe clean the muddied road signs. Oh, to have been a rider then. Because after the finish all the suffering turns into memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature's payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses: people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. 'Good for you.' Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lay with few suitors these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms she rewards passionately. That's why there are riders. Suffering you need; literature is baloney.
Tim Krabbé (The Rider)
Stuart Diver has had years of extensive professional counselling to retrain his brain so that he can replace the thought of how helpless he was when Sally dies with the truth that he tried everything he could to save her, showing how much he cared. He has learned to substitute memories of Sally's last moments with thoughts of wonderful times from their lives together- a great trip, a fun birthday, some other special occasion. In the corner of his living room is a bicycle that he rides every night, and he likens keeping his mental health on track to keeping physically fit. It's hard. It requires patience and it takes discipline.
Leigh Sales (Any Ordinary Day)
With the fate of Roe v. Wade now hanging in the balance, I'm calling for a special 'pro-life tax.' If the fervent prayers of the religious right are answered and abortion is banned, let's take it a step further. All good Christians should legally be required to pony up; share the financial burden of raising an unwanted child. That's right: put your money where your Bible is. I'm not just talking about paying for food and shelter or even a college education. All those who advocate for driving a stake through the heart of a woman's right to choose must help bear the financial burden of that child's upbringing. They must be legally as well as morally bound to provide the child brought into this world at their insistence with decent clothes to wear; a toy to play with; a bicycle to ride -- even if they don't consider these things 'necessities.' Pro-lifers must be required to provide each child with all those things they would consider 'necessary' for their own children. Once the kid is out of the womb, don't wash your hands and declare 'Mission Accomplished!' It doesn't end there. If you insist that every pregnancy be carried to term, then you'd better be willing to pay the freight for the biological parents who can't afford to. And -- like the good Christians that you are -- should do so without complaint.
Quentin R. Bufogle (SILO GIRL)
If women patronize the wheel the number of buyers will be twice as large. If women ride they must, when riding, dress more rationally than they have been wont to do. If they do this many prejudices as to what they may be allowed to wear will melt away. Reason will gain upon precedent and ere long the comfortable, sensible, and artistic wardrobe of the rider will make the conventional style of woman's dress absurd to the eye and unenduring to the understanding. A reform often advances most rapidly by indirection. An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory; and the graceful and becoming costume of woman on the bicycle will convince the world that has brushed aside the theories, no matter how well constructed, and the arguments, no matter how logical, of dress-reformers.
Frances E. Willard (How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle: Reflections of an Influential 19th Century Woman)
It’s estimated that more than forty thousand RVers dwell in the desert near Quartzsite from December through February. Bill Alexander has watched them come and go for what seems like forever. The outdoor recreation planner and lead park ranger at the Bureau of Land Management’s Yuma Field Office, he’s been working in this region for seventeen years. And after all that time, he says, he’s still impressed by the campers’ neighborliness. “We can have that guy who rides up on a bike with his dog on a leash and throws down his tent next to a guy in a $500,000 custom-built motorhome, and they get along just fine,” Bill told me. “That ability to coexist is based simply on their desire to enjoy the public land, and the fact that it belongs equally to the guy riding the bicycle as to the guy in the motorhome.
Jessica Bruder (Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century)
Paris is a sensuous woman every man has loved, even if only in his dreams. Once he has been deep inside her, walked her streets and tasted her delights, he can never forget her. Yet no matter how strong the memory of her remains, it cannot prepare him for the sheer beauty of her nakedness as he gazes upon her for the second time; the intoxicating fragrance of her hair as it brushes against him as it did when she let him love her; the softness of her skin beneath his fingertips as he strokes her breathtakingly graceful form; or the searing fire which courses through every fiber of his soul now that she is within reach. For every man blessed with a woman's love, she is a shrine to his happiness now that he need search no more. But for those who reside in obscurity within the lonely domicile of an empty heart, she is the hope of finding love. In his tortured heart, love waits for him at a corner cafe in the woman's smile two tables away; it lingers in the melodic laughter of a girl riding past him on a bicycle; and sometimes, when the woman is smiling at someone else, and the girl rides past him without notice, he finds love beneath the skirt of the darkly sensual woman waiting for him under a streetlamp.
Bobby Underwood (The Gentle Tide (Matt Ransom #3))
For example, there was a book that started out with four pictures: first there was a wind-up toy; then there was an automobile; then there was a boy riding a bicycle; then there was something else. And underneath each picture, it said "What makes it go?" I thought, I know what it is: They're going to talk about mechanics, how the springs work inside the toy; about chemistry, how the engine of an automobile works; and biology, about how the muscles work. It was the kind of thing my father would have talked about: "What makes it go? Everything goes because the sun is shining." And then we would have fun discussing it: "No, the toy goes becaues the spring is wound up, I would say. "How did the spring get would up" he would ask. "I wound it up" "And how did you get moving?" "From eating" "And food grows only because the sun is shining. So it's because the sun is shining that all these things are moving" That would get the concept across that motion is simply the transformation of the sun's power. I turned the page. The answer was, for the wind-up toy, "Energy makes it go." And for the boy on the bicycle, "Energy makes it go." For everything "Energy makes it go." Now that doesn't mean anything. Suppose it's "Wakalixes." That's the general principle: "Wakalixes makes it go." There is no knowledge coming in. The child doesn't learn anything; it's just a word What the should have done is to look at the wind-up toy, see that there are springs inside, learn about springs, learn about wheels, and never mind "energy". Later on, when the children know something about how the toy actually works, they can discuss the more general principles of energy. It is also not even true that "energy makes it go", because if it stops, you could say, "energy makes it stop" just as well. What they're talking about is concentrated energy being transformed into more dilute forms, which is a very subtle aspect of energy. Energy is neither increased nor decreased in these examples; it's just changed from one form to another. And when the things stop, the energy is changed into heat, into general chaos.
Richard P. Feynman (Pascua Libro de Colorear para Niños: Simpáticos conejitos - Cestas de Pascua - Huevos de Pascua - Tema de primavera - Niños y niñas de 4 a 8 años, 8 a 12 años (Spanish Edition))
Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach? By Daniel T. Willingham SUMMER 2007 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS pp. 8-1 Can critical thinking actually be taught? Decades of cognitive research point to a disappointing answer: not really. People who have sought to teach critical thinking have assumed that it is a skill, like riding a bicycle, and that, like other skills, once you learn it, you can apply it in any situation. Research from cognitive science shows that thinking is not that sort of skill. The processes of thinking are intertwined with the content of thought (that is, domain knowledge). Thus, if you remind a student to “look at an issue from multiple perspectives” often enough, he will learn that he ought to do so, but if he doesn’t know much about an issue, he can’t think about it from multiple perspectives. You can teach students maxims about how they ought to think, but without background knowledge and practice, they probably will not be able to implement the advice they memorize.
Daniel T. Willingham
At length, when the conversation-in my view, at least -was going straight to hell, he got up abruptly and went over to look at a photograph of himself and Bessie that had been newly tacked up on the wall. He glowered at it for a full minute, or more, then turned around, with a brusqueness no one in the family would have found unusual, and asked Seymour if he remembered the time Joe Jackson had given him, Seymour, a ride on the handle bars of his bicycle, all over the stage, around and around. Seymour, sitting in an old corduroy armchair across the room, a cigarette going, wearing a blue shirt, gray slacks, moccasins with the counters broken down, a shaving cut on the side of his face that I could see, replied gravely and at on cc, and in the special way he always answered questions from Les - as if they were the questions, above all others, he preferred to be asked in his life. He said he wasn't sure he had ever got off Joe Jackson's beautiful bicycle. And aside from its enormous sentimental value to my father personally, this answer, in a great many ways, was true, true, true.
J.D. Salinger (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction)
There is an inherent, humbling cruelty to learning how to run white water. In most other so-called "adrenaline" sports—skiing, surfing and rock climbing come to mind—one attains mastery, or the illusion of it, only after long apprenticeship, after enduring falls and tumbles, the fatigue of training previously unused muscles, the discipline of developing a new and initially awkward set of skills. Running white water is fundamentally different. With a little luck one is immediately able to travel long distances, often at great speeds, with only a rudimentary command of the sport's essential skills and about as much physical stamina as it takes to ride a bicycle downhill. At the beginning, at least, white-water adrenaline comes cheap. It's the river doing the work, of course, but like a teenager with a hot car, one forgets what the true power source is. Arrogance reigns. The river seems all smoke and mirrors, lots of bark (you hear it chortling away beneath you, crunching boulders), but not much bite. You think: Let's get on with it! Let's run this damn river! And then maybe the raft hits a drop in the river— say, a short, hidden waterfall. Or maybe a wave reaches up and flicks the boat on its side as easily as a horse swatting flies with its tail. Maybe you're thrown suddenly into the center of the raft, and the floor bounces back and punts you overboard. Maybe you just fall right off the side of the raft so fast you don't realize what's happening. It doesn't matter. The results are the same. The world goes dark. The river— the word hardly does justice to the churning mess enveloping you— the river tumbles you like so much laundry. It punches the air from your lungs. You're helpless. Swimming is a joke. You know for a fact that you are drowning. For the first time you understand the strength of the insouciant monster that has swallowed you. Maybe you travel a hundred feet before you surface (the current is moving that fast). And another hundred feet—just short of a truly fearsome plunge, one that will surely kill you— before you see the rescue lines. You're hauled to shore wearing a sheepish grin and a look in your eye that is equal parts confusion, respect, and raw fear. That is River Lesson Number One. Everyone suffers it. And every time you get the least bit cocky, every time you think you have finally figured out what the river is all about, you suffer it all over again.
Joe Kane (Running the Amazon)
Melinda Pratt rides city bus number twelve to her cello lesson, wearing her mother's jean jacket and only one sock. Hallo, world, says Minna. Minna often addresses the world, sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. Bus number twelve is her favorite place for watching, inside and out. The bus passes cars and bicycles and people walking dogs. It passes store windows, and every so often Minna sees her face reflection, two dark eyes in a face as pale as a winter dawn. There are fourteen people on the bus today. Minna stands up to count them. She likes to count people, telephone poles, hats, umbrellas, and, lately, earrings. One girl, sitting directly in front of Minna, has seven earrings, five in one ear. She has wisps of dyed green hair that lie like forsythia buds against her neck. There are, Minna knows, a king, a past president of the United States, and a beauty queen on the bus. Minna can tell by looking. The king yawns and scratches his ear with his little finger. Scratches, not picks. The beauty queen sleeps, her mouth open, her hair the color of tomatoes not yet ripe. The past preside of the United States reads Teen Love and Body Builder's Annual. Next to Minna, leaning against the seat, is her cello in its zippered canvas case. Next to her cello is her younger brother, McGrew, who is humming. McGrew always hums. Sometimes he hums sentences, though most often it comes out like singing. McGrew's teachers do not enjoy McGrew answering questions in hums or song. Neither does the school principal, Mr. Ripley. McGrew spends lots of time sitting on the bench outside Mr. Ripley's office, humming. Today McGrew is humming the newspaper. First the headlines, then the sports section, then the comics. McGrew only laughs at the headlines. Minna smiles at her brother. He is small and stocky and compact like a suitcase. Minna loves him. McGrew always tells the truth, even when he shouldn't. He is kind. And he lends Minna money from the coffee jar he keeps beneath his mattress. Minna looks out the bus window and thinks about her life. Her one life. She likes artichokes and blue fingernail polish and Mozart played too fast. She loves baseball, and the month of March because no one else much likes March, and every shade of brown she has ever seen. But this is only one life. Someday, she knows, she will have another life. A better one. McGrew knows this, too. McGrew is ten years old. He knows nearly everything. He knows, for instance, that his older sister, Minna Pratt, age eleven, is sitting patiently next to her cello waiting to be a woman.
Patricia MacLachlan (The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt)