Besides, what fun can there be in leaving a place unless you really, really, want to leave? And it is getting like that, now.
But before I crawl out of winter's chrysalis, and stretch out my new wings of travel, let's think about what was accomplished this winter. It is 1/4 to 1/3 of the year, after all. I realize that most readers have no interest in bicycling, but they might be interested in the general principles that the cycling experience can illustrate.
Furthermore I will assume that the reader has a certain amount of sympathy with the noble quest of making outdoor exercise non-puritanical. Let's take Duty, Guilt, oppressive repetition, and drudgery out of it. Let's look for reasons for outdoor exercise other than 'because it is good for you.' So then, no more goodie-goodie; nor do we really need to be 'bad'; but let's be a little bad-ass at least.
When William James discussed the "moral equivalent of war," (Lecture XIV, The Value of Saintliness in "Varieties of Religious Experience") he argued that courage-with-poverty could fit the bill. My thinking runs in a different direction: towards intense outdoor sports as the moral equivalent of war.
There were supreme moments of excitement during this winter cycling season: moments when I ignored everything, including my self-consciousness; everything except half-crazy, bloodthirsty, male, tribal, hunter/warrior feelings. Sometimes this happens when the cyclist takes a noticeable step up in his athletic performance.
The feeling might be intensified by simultaneous competition and cooperation amongst the cyclists. The cyclist is most aware of the snapping heels of the cyclist ahead of him. He is also only a foot or two away from touching tires. If that happens a fairly serious injury (messed up shoulder or broken collar-bone) will usually result. Therefore the paceline of cyclists shares much of the psychology of a platoon of combat troops.
But even more, I've come to appreciate the synergy, the feeling of enlarged corporate tribal power, that comes from moving along, aggressively, with your mates.
|Hill Climb on annual Tour of the Gila near Silver City, NM|
By luck I found the book, "The Culture of War," by Martin van Creveld. In Chapter 6, "The Joy of Combat," he quotes a well-known historian, W.M. McNeill, on his military experiences:
Almost half a century after leaving the army, a famous American historian also recorded, not without surprise, how much he liked "strutting around" on the parade ground. "Words," he wrote, "are inadequate to describe the emotion aroused by the prolonged movement in unison that drilling involved. A sense of pervasive well-being is what I recall; more specifically, a strange sense of personal enlargement; a sort of swelling out, becoming bigger than life, thanks to participation in a collective ritual."Anthropology, assuming that it is more than conjecture, is real nature, rather than the PC, bowdlerized version of nature that is presented in coffee table books. Can you think of a constructive use of human anthropology in your outdoor activities? This isn't just a rhetorical question.
The last thing you want to do is get solitary and unsociable, and start up another of those travel blogs that writes paeans to "Nature", sacred solitude, peace and harmony, and the rest of that sickly drivel.