Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

11 November 2011

What If They Had Bicycles?

Some of us have cycled for so long, or done so much cycling, that we simply cannot imagine our lives without it.  So, it's hard to remember that, even though the bicycle has a longer history than most forms of transportation, it's still a recent invention.

Knowing that, I found myself wondering what some of the most important, wonderful and cataclysmic events in history, literature and art would have been like if bicycles had been available.

One of the first events that comes to mind is this:

Now I find it ironic that the culmination of the greatest technological advances of the time made the world stand still for a day. I know; I remember that day:  20 July 1969.  Everything, it seemed, was closed--and everywhere you looked, you could see the lumescent gray and silver shadows bobbing from television screens through windows.  Quite possibly more people heard this phrase--"One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind"--at the moment it was uttered than heard any other phrase at the exact moment it was spoken. 

I was eleven years old at the time.  It was hard not to be mesmerized by those (literally) otherwordly images; even adults forgot whatever else they'd been doing so they could see an event that, until then, had been in the realm of fantasy.

Now I wonder:  How would history (not to mention the Space Program) been different if Neil Armstrong had a bicycle to ride in the low-gravity atmosphere of the moon. (If nothing else, there would have been no excuse for using carbon fiber!)  What if those lunar footprints had been, instead, tire tracks?

What if the battles of antiquity had been led by generals or muses on two wheels?

Or what if the people of Concord heard the cry  "The British Are Coming!" over the whirr of two wheels?

Wouldn't you love to see that on the next Tweed Ride?

Speaking of Tweed...Imagine how fashion could have changed if the bicycle had come along earlier in history:

Now she's definitely someone who could have benefitted from having a Mercian!


  1. Actually, we're fortunate that the British didn't have bikes or they might have gotten to Lexington and Concord before we were ready!

  2. And, blimey, that might mean we'd all have to talk in English, spell lots of words wrong, and ride our bikes to those ubiquitous Starbucks Tea places. On the other hand, NOT riding a bike might be considered evidence of a rebellious person. Thanks for the fun thoughts about alternative history, Lady Justine!

  3. Steve,

    Starbuck's Tea...blimey! Colour me much afeard!