"How many miles do you ride in a day?"
This is the most common question asked of me by folks I meet and start chatting about my ride. The answer I'd like to give is something like this, "Ummm, I'm not sure. Usually somewhere between one mile and two hundred..."
Then I think, "Really, this is the question you want to ask me? Of all the possibilities, why that one? Why don't you ask, 'where did you ride, how was it, what did you see, what did you learn, what secrets did the universe reveal to you'?"
I've ridden over 1400 miles in the past 2 months across some of the most remote and beautiful landscapes in the lower 48. And while I have to look really hard for universal secrets, the more obvious things are the birds, the ornaments people place on their lawns, random sculptures of ordinary junk. I've seen gardens tended with the utmost love and care, autos decked out in outlandish colors.
That simple question, "How far?" Begs some commentary. It is a big country after all. That's what I hear from Europeans cycling in the states. Some don't realize how truly vast we are. Even at a hundred miles a day, it would take a month to cross the continental US by bicycle. Conversely, one could ride a bicycle, for example across England at it's widest point east to west in a matter of hours if they were pushing. Hadrian's Wall which bisects the country north to south is walked in a matter of days.
But why, "How far"? Are Americans obsessed with one up-manship? Here I'm really going out on a limb.
Harley Davidson motorcycles. They are loud and some are downright obnoxious. Nothing screams "LOOK AT ME" more than a Harley. They're very expensive. I think they sound like raspberries. You know that sound kids make at each other? Go ahead try it. Stick your tongue out between your teeth and gently blow air. Your tongue vibrates and there's a little spittle as it makes a very expressive and explicit sound. Now put your hands up with your thumbs next to your ears and wave your fingers at the same time.
Its the expression kids give each other when they want to say, "Ha, ha, your a dork and I'm not and look what I got and you don't".
That, in my opinion is what Harley Davidson says as it rolls its way obnoxiously down the road. These are adults giving each other the raspberry plain and simple...
In a culture permanently stuck in an adolescent phase of development, it makes sense (see Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul 2006). Conspicuous consumption is another great example. Our automobiles are still growing larger NOT smaller. "This baby gets three gallons to the mile and it will drive right over your Prius with nary a bump".
"How far?" is just another example.... Who really cares how far I ride in a day are we racing?. It took me about 3 hours to pedal six miles over the grueling Coal Bank Summit Pass... That's two miles an hour.
Thanks for reading this rant. Now if you'll excuse me, I have the next 8 hours to ride fifteen miles, MAYBE!!!