Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Cyclists' Apocrypha

Originally published in Cycling Plus, 2001.

In the beginning God created the bicycle, saw that it was good, then went for a nice Sunday ride on the bike lanes He'd made the day before, and they were good too, because they were new and He had the angels keep them clear of debris. Later, of course, God would get cross and have the flood wash all the good ones away.

And God said to Himself, "Let us create man, because cycling is too much fun to keep to Myself," and so He created man, him did He create, create did He him do. And God put man in paradise, and commanded him, "Glideth upon the earth anywhere thou wisheth, except for that big hill over there. For on the day thou goeth down that hill, thou shalt surely die."

And God said, "Man needs a companion to keep him from spending too much money on new bicycles." So God caused man to fall into a deep sleep by asking him if he wanted to go clothes shopping at the mall, then took a rib from him. Then God said to Himself, "Who am I kidding, I'll never hear the end of it when she finds out she was just a rib," so He created woman from frankincense and myrrh and a certain je ne sais quoi.

And God said, "Let man have dominion over lathe drills and Philips head screwdrivers, and let woman have dominion over everything else, and as long as thou art naked and unashamed, thou might as well be fruitful and multiply."

Lastly, God created the chicken and the egg, in that order, which should clear up that matter.

Now the serpent, he was a wily one, and he said to woman, "Yea, hath God said you may cycle anywhere but down that hill?"

And the woman said unto the serpent, "That's about the size of it: go downhill and die." And the serpent said, "Ye shall not surely die, you probably won't even fall off. For God doth know that on the day you go downhill, you will not need to pedal for a long time. Go on, give it a try."

And the woman saw that the hill was good, she did not need to pedal for a long time. She told the man about it, and he also went downhill. Their eyes were opened, they saw they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves into padded cycling shorts because sometimes it got bumpy going downhill.

And they heard the voice of God as He was off-road, fully suspended of course, and they hid their bicycles at the bottom of the hill and started whistling nervously. And God called unto the man, and said, "Where art thou?"

And the man said, "We art down here."

And God said, "Hast thou cycled downhill, whereoff I commanded thee that thou shouldest not?" And man said, "C'mon, it was her idea."

And God said unto the woman, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow whilst climbing hills; in pain shalt thou perch upon thy saddle."

And God said unto the man, "Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, cursed is regular bike maintenance. The inner workings of the hub gear will be beyond thou to repair. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou service thy freewheel."

And God said, "Behold, the man doesn't listen very well," so he kicked him out of paradise and guarded the entrance with a sign of a picture of a bicycle in the middle of a red circle. And He had a Cherubim with a flaming sword stop by a few times a week for good measure.

This is the book of the generations. The first bicycle was a single speed, Godspeed, but after that it got complicated. Sprockets begat sprockets and cables begat kinks. Celerifere begat Draisienne begat Macmillan begat Michaux begat Ariel begat Bayliss Thomas begat Lawson begat Rover begat Boneshaker begat Ordinary begat Raleigh.

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth in a critical mass, God saw that the wickedness of man was great and he did not like to give way to anyone on the road even his mother, so He directed Noah to build an ark made out of renewable resources. There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark every type of bicycle: one to ride and one for spare parts. And Noah gathered two touring bikes and two mountain bikes; two recumbents and two tandems; two road racing bikes and two cross bikes; also four unicycles, just in case there was a misunderstanding, and a brace of Bromptons, as their folded countenance pleasethed Him. And God said there might be Some strong winds in the Southeast. And it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, then drizzled for another fortnight.

And God remembered Noah and asswaged the waters, and Noah opened a door on the ark and set loose Japheth on a unicycle, and God said, "This is a covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature: that a man on a unicycle is a hilarious sight. The waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh."

A bit later, God spake unto Moses, saying, Here are a few ground rules, I hath numbered them for thou for easy reference:
I. Thou shalt hold no other races above the Tour de France.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee helmets which cost more than £100.
III. Thou shalt not take My name in vain everytime thou gettest a flat tyre.
IV. Remember to oil thy chain, to keep it rolling.
V. Honor the Zebra Crossing and those walking upon the face of it.
VI. Thou shalt not ignore other road users, nor cycle recklessly upon the pavement.
VII. Thou shalt not steal bicycles.
VIII.Thou shalt not kill, except bicycle thieves.
IX. Thou shalt not hang onto moving cars.
X. Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's new Cannondale, nor his group set, nor his £3000 MTB, nor even his stylish shades.

Forget not the Titanium Rule: Signal unto others as thou wouldst have others signal unto thou.

And moving right along, there came four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they were the Taxicab Driver, and the Motorcycle Messenger, and the White Van Man, and the Man Opening a Car Door Without Looking.


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