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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the Essence of Cycling : Tour de France vs Whole Foods

7/19/11 #220 0miles

Beyond the smell of my bicycling gloves soaked in Monday's rain and put up wet, what is the essence of cycling?

In these weeks of the year, the media delivers spectacularly engineered presentations of cycling corporate logos and branded colors in settings of stark beauty. Consider, for instance, this image of the peleton riding at the coast, with the island of Mont Saint-Michel in the background (2011 Tour de France, Stage 6; photo by Lionel Bonaventure.)


It suggests a cross between Lord of the Rings and the Dance of the Seven Veils.

The marketing exercise known as the Tour de France has as much to do with cycling as Nascar has to do with the Parkway West. The vehicles are similar, the safety and performance research advances the field; that's about it.

This picture, to me, is the essence of cycling:

(new bike repair station and pump at Pittsburgh Whole Foods, photo by Caitlin.)

When I first saw one of these pipe-as-pretzel sculptures, I wasn't sure what to make of it. I knew that it was supposed to be a bike repair stand, and I saw the bike tools secured by cables, but I just didn't get the affordance of the structure. This photo explains how the curved pipes are intended to support the bike by the seat-


Having a few of these self-help bike repair stands around the city would be awesome. Support like this makes bicycling a routine, reliable, rational activity rather than a random act of courage and quirky advocacy.

I salute Whole Foods Pittsburgh for taking the time and expense of supporting people riding bikes around the city. That's a lot closer to the essence of cycling than the Tour de France.

(It would be wonderful to have one of these somewhere in Southside Works.)

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