Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

16 May 2013

Creative Cycling

"The meaning of life came to me while I was washing the dishes.  I wrote it down on a napkin, but it got soaked and the ink ran."

I don't remember who told me that.  It was said in jest, but perhaps it's not such a joke after all.

After all, how many times have you had ideas come to you when you were occupied with something else?  Or, better yet, while you were on your bike, dodging and weaving through traffic or pumping your way up an 8 percent grade?

If you've had inspiration, or simply moments of clarity, while riding your bike, you shouldn't be surprised.  After all, more oxygen is being pumped to our brains, which are probably in a somewhat altered state of consciousness anyway.

I am thinking about that now because I came across this photo of Sir Edward Elgar:

While it says great things about how good cycling can be for our creative processes, it doesn't say much about his relationship with his wife.  Was she a "bike widow" or a "music widow"?

Elgar was an enthusiastic cyclist who often pedaled the 90-mile (150km) round-trip to see his favorite football team, the Wolverhampton Wanderers.  He said that some of his music came to him while he was in the saddle.

That is what this writer said about some of his work:

 I can just imagine Count Tolstoy stopping in the middle of the taiga and hurriedly scribbling War And Peace before re-mounting his wheels.

Speaking of writers, you've probably seen this image of Henry Miller:


But I'll bet you haven't seen this one of Thomas Hardy:

Around the same time, one of the very first tandems was ridden by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife:

About a century later,  Patti Smith was helping to make the Meatpacking District--and city bikes--fashionable:

And, of course, no blog post about creative people and great thinkers on bicycles would be complete without this image:

Einstein said that the concept of the Theory of Relativity came to him while he was riding his bicycle.  That makes perfect sense, especially if you believe that the universe is a giant wheel.


  1. I like Patti Smith even more now...

    Cycling certainly does free the mind.

  2. Coline--I did, too, when I saw that photo.

    Yes, cycling does free the mind I also believe whatever sanity I have is largely attributable to my cycling.