You wouldn’t expect me to be discussing the yield of our home garden, but I found myself at a table with two friends who care an awful lot about how many tomatoes, heads of kale, etc. they reap from their own home patches. At my house, my wife is the gardener. I merely provide ham-fisted labor support, so I’m not even sure why I chimed in, but I did.
I said, “Isn’t gardening really the point of gardening?”
Now, if you took your gardening seriously, this kind of off-hand comment might strike you as the sort of pseudo-Zen nonsense that it struck me as, even as it exited my mouth. But what I was trying to say was that very few of us who have gardens would survive a year if we had to subsist on what we grew. So, yeah, the tomatoes this year were good or not so good, but the point of the whole exercise is really just to get outside, get your hands in the dirt, and witness the miracle of fruits and/or vegetables growing from the simple exertion of human effort, sunlight, and, if you’re lucky, some rain.
After I sat blankly through the sideways looks my comment elicited, my friends admitted that yes, the point of gardening probably is gardening.
And because this is a website nominally about bicycles and their riding, it follows that the point of riding bikes is riding bikes. And because you take bikes (possibly too) seriously, your brain is capering away now, thinking of all the other reasons you ride bikes. There are a few, to be entirely fair. But let’s not let the urge for perfection or completeness derail us from the idea we’re contemplating here.
People enjoy riding bikes. Perhaps you’re even one of them. Ande the point of riding bikes is to ride bikes.
The problem is that I lose sight of it a lot. I go and pedal my brains out (what’s left of them), and I evaluate the ride on a variety of abstruse criteria that ignore the central tenet of the project. The point of riding bikes is riding bikes.
I’m fortunate not to have to live off the yield, not to have to devise strategies to keep the squirrels and rabbits out of my bikes, not to need to be fitter or faster than I am, not to have to beat anyone anywhere. The value is intrinsic to the activity, until of course I take that value for granted and need more.
That’s greedy though. It is enough for me, metaphorically, just to dig in the dirt and enjoy myself, to pedal around and feel the power of my body turned into motion.