The Mountain Bike

Something is beginning to bother me. Why are there only men in my stories? Why are they all middle-aged? “I think,” said my self-taught carpenter partner when I turn to him with my insistence that there is an important link between Utopia, Mars, and the founding of micronations at Sea, “I think”, said Nick, “you need to add the middle-aged man and his mountain bike to your mix”. “Ok”, I replied quizzically. Middle-aged, lycra-clad men ruining my walks in the local forest was a point of returning disagreement between us that could turn the atmosphere positively poisonous. I cannot explain how much they annoy me with their yelling and their tribal behavior and all their ridiculously expensive bikes on which they proceeded to have severe accidents. Nick thinks being out in nature on a bike is simply cool. Now he returned to the phenomena from a different angle. “Consider the meticulous cleaning of the bike, consider the unnecessary (compared to skill and need) quality of the bike. The buying of spare parts. This becomes an obsession for some men as they grow middle-aged.” “As you grow middle-aged” he informed me from his 10 years ahead-of me position, “your body stops performing to the level you think it ought to.”

He wanted me to see that being out on the bike was not just about tribal behavior and escaping home life. The bike also presented a smooth running system on the backdrop of the failing body. And at the same time, while the bike might be about escaping home life it was not about getting away from something, but rather it was about achieving a sense of mastery. “There is”, he continued, “something intensely comforting in having a perfect system that only moves if you set it in motion. You can clean out the dirt. You can oil the cogwheels and joints. The only cause for interference is you. It only moves if you touch it.” What he alerted me to was that utopia are not merely an escape from the political realities their maker’s live in and while they may certainly offer a place of psychological comfort for their makes they are not merely a comment on the current state of affairs. They are related to something deeply human, something deeply creative, something, possibly, to do with aesthetic pleasure. Why is it so intensely pleasing to watch the emptiness of Mars’ landscape be filled in step by step? I can watch it again and again. Turning nothing into something. Undisturbed creation.

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