Cycling Virtues: Patience

Cycling Virtues: Patience

There’s a saying that “patience is a virtue” which is kind of weak because it should be obvious that it is.

The fact that we need to declare it such shows how low on our scale this has become.

However, the love for patience outside of modern life seems near universal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patience

“Patience and fortitude are prominent themes in Judaism.”

“In the Christian religion, patience is one of the most valuable virtues of life.”

“Patience in Islam is one of the best and most valuable virtues of life.”

“In Buddhism, patience (Skt.: kshanti; Pali: khanti) is one of the “perfections” (paramitas) that a bodhisattva trains in and practices to realize perfect enlightenment (bodhi).”

“Patience is recognized within Hinduism in the Bhagavad Gita.”

So why are we so impatient.

I’d argue that advertising and our culture of forced mobility has been a direct attack on patience.

Whenever, you see something about making things faster, more efficient, or labor saving, you see someone promoting impatience.

I saw this obsession with speed and disdain for the wonders of patience invading the cycling world both in the promotion of scooters posing as bicycles (the so-called e-bikes) as well as in _Effective Cycling_ where Forester does the math to see if cycling commuting is worth the time.

But what is “patience”?

To me, it’s being happy wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Riding my bicycle home is a wonderful experience.

So when people complain about how long it takes to get anywhere on a bicycle, I hear “I hate spending so much time on a wonderful experience.”

Patience, to me, includes happiness with how things are. So the whole consumer cycle which we are all trapped in, including many cyclists, does not mix with patience.

There’s a saying in the bike world that “the number of bikes you need is how many you have plus one.”

I feel that the number of bikes that I need is one.

There is much, much more to patience such as the Buddhist practice of remaining calm even when attacked and insulted. Clearly, I have much work to do on this one.

This is one of the few views that I think meshes perfectly with VCism. When I do ride on our crappy streets which are build with no concern for cycling, I still am happy. I don’t talk about it too much because good advocacy practice is often different from personal development practice.

Also, if VCists really walked the “we can ride anywhere” meme they’d be more than happy to teach cycling in the “door zone” (sic), on sidewalks, on cycle tracks, and on multi-use paths. I do ride on all of these including busy streets with joy.

Finally, hills are the places of greatest practice of patience. Anyone who wants to tell you hills are stopping cyclists are promoting the vice of impatience, and they ought to be ashamed of themeselves.

I do believe, like all major world religions, that patience is one of the highest virtues and that we ought to stop “rebelling against god” and to stop motoring and to get on bicycles.

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One Response to “Cycling Virtues: Patience”

  1. operasmorg Says:

    😀 I’m trying, bro. I only have one bike and I love it to bits… though there are times I wish I had gone for a cyclocross bike instead of a racing style one just so I can do the many cool looking dirt trails around town. 🙂 Am going up the mountains to explore Mother Grundy tomorrow. That will probably be a big test of patience (both for the hill and for the dirt-trailedness)!

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