In praise of cycling and a dress colour

It must be about time I posted another photo of Busby so here he is, with precious cargo:

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I cycle to and from school everyday and I love it. My only complaint is that it has become too easy and the distance to school too short. I’m stronger than I was when we first arrived and the hills aren’t as difficult anymore. They still get my heart-rate up which is a good thing, but I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself very hard.

I cycled passed a police officer on the pavement this week and she said hello to me. Phew. I often pass city council vehicles too and they always stop and give way to me, even though I’m crossing from one footpath to another, which is technically illegal. It’s a good sign that the law enforcement and politicians are on-board with cycling. I just wish they’d do more to encourage other people to cycle too. The low cycling rates are undoubtedly due to the perceived danger of cycling in traffic which could be rectified by building dedicated cycle paths.

I’ve heard that roads were not built for cars, they were built for bicycles. When the bicycle first became popular in the late 19th century, there were no cars, and it was cyclists who paved the way for a national road network for the purposes of cycling. Cycling was predominantly the domain of the wealthy and it was these early cyclists and their well-organised cycling clubs that lobbied for proper paved roads and maps. There’s a good article about it in the Guardian.

Bicycles also made a positive contribution to the women’s liberation movement in the 1800s. They gave women freedom, mobility and made women look more sporty and less like the fragile creatures Victorian women were supposed to be. There’s quite a good article about it here with a funny quote from the era:

Cycling tends to destroy the sweet simplicity of her girlish nature; besides how dreadful it would be if, by some accident, she were to fall into the arms of a strange man

Falling into the arms of a strange man doesn’t sound very bad to me at all.

One more, completely unrelated thing. What colour is this dress? Please vote in my poll below (but not if you’re Zandy or Pam). Thanks!

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24 Comments

  1. Do you have a “normal” bike for longer more strenuous cycles on your own?
    I’ve voted blue and something; looks brown to me, but I could see that perhaps it is white and the lighting is off. Hard to see in this photo.

    1. I don’t have a normal bike but I might get one at some point. Although now that I’m used to cycling Busby I’ll find a regular bicycle strange and difficult to cycle.

      I can’t see any white in the dress at all and I have 20-20 vision.

      1. The white would only be if the light was funny – as white, especially shiny white like this dress, reflects colours around it.
        So, yes, it Does look blue, but may in reality be white!
        And 20/20 vision only means you can see it really clearly! 🙂 It doesn’t alter our colour perception. 🙂

  2. The dress looks like some kinda bridesmaid idea gone awry- As for the cycling, get yourself a decent road bike and go out in the hills- I started taking part in the Raetihi gut buster- 50km- 25km down and then back up a fairly big hill- there are plenty in Scotland- This weekend is the la femme bike ride- thats 44km- luckily it is in Manawatu, which is mostly flat though makes use of the local wind for energy generation…head winds, cross winds could be a challenge- I had a 50km practice ride on Wednesday after work by riding back to Wanganui- the big lorries freak me out a bit, so I took a back road which made the ride a bit longer although more scenic and safer!
    One good thing about cycling is that its a great break and keeps my mood even and gives me some space to think about writing etc. It helps with energy levels too! The scottish islands are very good to tour by bike- Ben might grumble a bit, but he managed to trek around Nepal and enjoy it (I think)- I went on Islay, Arran and Jura, with the YHA of Scotland- It rained the most it ever had on any of their trips, and we had to be aware of the big 3′ Sheep, S##t and gravel- still, its better than lorries, louts and slippery lines on tarmac!

  3. Interesting post. I never thought about it before but it makes sense that roads existed long before cars. It se this shared road discussion in a different light now. I look forward to the time that a strange woman falls into my arms on the road.

  4. I see a gold and white dress. No matter how hard I try, I can’t see any other colours. Great photo of your precious cargo with tongues poking out. Cheeky! Glad the police and council are turning a blind eye to your technically illegal cycling activities. Makes sense. Now I know that there’s a chance of falling into the arms of the strange man, I’m seriously thinking of taking up cycling. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Correct, roads were built designed for bicycles before cars and the cycling lobby of the late 19th Century was equivalent to what the motoring lobby would later become. Of course the *world’s* first bicycle factory was in Coventry, Warwickshire, England; the industry developed out of that for sewing machines, which itself had developed out of that for spinning looms. Coventry was also a major centre of watchmaking and it was from that pool of skilled labour that the technical skills of bicycle design came from, including the differential gear, a local invention.

    The bicycle industry developed naturally into the motorcycle industry and then the car industry, with Britain’s first car factory being run by the Great Horseless Carriage Company at a location called Daimler Green (now a modern housing estate) one mile north of the centre of Coventry. Rover was originally a bicycle company as were most car manufacturers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the late 19th Century more than thirty thousand people were employed in Coventry in the cycle industry which covered more than three hundred companies (all long since closed).

      1. Indeed it was the Coventry Sewing Machine Company, back in 1869, renamed as the Coventry Machinist Company, which started manufacturing bicycles after the nephew of the owner paid a visit to France and returned with one of the early Michaux contraptions. This is an advert for a later locally built bicycle, which appears to have been photocopied from a local history book:

        As you said, bicycles were originally for the wealthy.

  6. Don’t forget where the Wright brothers got their start.

    Re the dress, a pale blue is plausible. But given the poor photo quality, it was a little ridiculous to spend any time on this. Shame on the whole internet.

    The fringe is definitely gold, though, evocative of llama hair.

  7. Cycling is a very healthy activity for our body and must be practiced every day if possible. I usually recommend a dress full of young colors if you want to use it in the spring, and a dress with warmer colors for the summer.
    To maintain a healthy life for us as humans, we also need to keep our environment healthy, otherwise we can get ill due to the changes produced in our climate.
    We as individuals can do our job in the fight against climate change by learning a few tips to stop climate change in 2015.
    http://www.alternative-energies.net/a-few-solutions-to-fight-climate-change-in-2015/

  8. Haha..I agree Rachel, falling into the arms of a strange man would be rather nice actually 😀 Lovely photo of your precious cargo. You are certainly one fit woman! Very interesting history of the bicycle too. And as for the dress, hope I’m not too late for your poll, but it is clearly blue and black and I’m intrigued as to why you ask, so onto your next post!

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