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Quotations about Bicycles

The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. ~Christopher Morley

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green, 1965

To ride a bicycle properly is very like a love affair; chiefly it is a matter of faith. Believe you do it, and the thing is done; doubt, and, for the life of you, you cannot. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

According to Alan, the bicycle is mechanical perfection. When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ~Elizabeth West, "The simple life, on a pittance," Hovel in the Hills: An Account of 'The Simple Life', 1977

My father showed me that the benefits of bicycling run much deeper than physical fitness. What we've stumbled across is a basic world rhythm imitated by those pedals spinning round. There's a youth force living in the suspended energy of that age-old diamond frame. ~Joseph Kita, "The Key to Happiness," Wisdom of Our Fathers, 1999

MRS BRADMAN.  I must say I find bicycling very exhausting.
MADAME ARCATI.  Steady rhythm, that's what counts. Once you get the knack of it you need never look back. On you get and away you go.
MRS BRADMAN.  But the hills, Madame Arcati; pushing up those awful hills.
MADAME ARCATI.  Just knack again. Down with your head, up with your heart, and you're over the top like a flash and skimming down the other side like a dragon‑fly.
~Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit: An Improbable Farce in Three Acts, 1941

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs, unverified

I still enjoy cycling... and we have had some good days out on the bikes. And, so long as we have the strength to push the pedals around, it will be our main way of getting about. ~Elizabeth West, "The simple life, on a pittance," Hovel in the Hills: An Account of 'The Simple Life', 1977

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live. ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

After your first day of cycling one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow; you ride down steeples and staircases and over precipices; you hover in horrible suspense over inhabited towns, vainly seeking for a brake your hand cannot find, to save you from a headlong fall; you plunge into weltering rivers, and rush helplessly at monstrous obstacles. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

Bicycling, furthermore, is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own... Plunging free downhill is like a hawk stooping. On the level stretches you may pedal with a steady rhythm like a heron flapping; or you may like an accipitrine hawk, alternate rapid pedaling with gliding. If you want to test the force and direction of the wind, there is no better way than to circle, banked inward, like a turkey vulture. When you have the wind against you, headway is best made by yawing or wavering, like a crow flying upwind... ~Louis J. Halle, Jr., Spring in Washington, 1947

Oh, the exhilaration of feeling yourself pushing forward through the air, like, or something like, a bird! ~Robert Benchley, "'Bicycling,' The New Craze," c.1925

The... rider was a man unused to such machines, and apparently undecided how to dismount. He wobbled a few yards up the hill with a long tail of machine wobbling behind him. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

With the bikes leaning up against a farm gate, we were sitting at the roadside munching apples. The scent of wild rose and honeysuckle filled the air and the sounds of summer were all around us. I felt absolutely in my right element. I was not just living through a summer's afternoon — I was part of it. Suddenly a car came around the bend... A woman looked out of the side window and for an instant our eyes met. We would have been about the same age. I imagined what it must have felt like to be her, sitting inside that car — all clean, tidy, nylon-tighted and upright, with the hot interior-car smell of fumes and warm plastic... I lay back in the grass; I was dusty, sweaty and absolutely content. I would not, under any circumstances, wish to change places with that woman. ~Elizabeth West, "The simple life, on a pittance," Hovel in the Hills: An Account of 'The Simple Life', 1977

I can imagine that, with a properly oiled machine, there can be no easier nor pleasanter way of seeing the country. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you... ~Ernest Hemingway, "Battle for Paris," 1944

I ride through the time
      Elongating the memories with surreal distortion
      I ride for the feeling of freedom
      I am perpetual, free from the lingering fear of death
      I push myself to the edges of mortal capacity
      Then I transcend the human pain
      And enter that fourth dimension.
The wheels no longer finger the ground
      They float on passionate endeavor
      A whole hearted and single minded effort
      The rhythm of faultless circles going 'round
      A pulsating rhythm that ascends above the world's anguishes.
The constant movement brings freedom....
~Anita Ho, "Balance,"

When you have ridden as far as you want to ride, the next thing to do is to stop. This is accomplished by heading for something firm, like a post or a large white house, and crashing into it head-on. You will then find that you have not only stopped, but that you are off, all in one continuous uninterrupted process. ~Robert Benchley, "'Bicycling,' The New Craze," c.1925

For a young and newly married couple, a tandem bicycle must be, I should imagine, a delightful bond. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

Nevertheless, we cycle, in all seasons of the year... Winter cycling brings its own excitements... Riding a bicycle upon ice-glazed surfaces requires a certain clownish skill and a dare-devil attitude... ~Elizabeth West, "The simple life, on a pittance," Hovel in the Hills: An Account of 'The Simple Life', 1977

      There's no hurry... I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view — get hot, juicy, red — like a grilled chop...
      I've reservoirs and reservoirs of muscular energy, and one or other of them is always leaking. It's a most interesting road, birds and trees, I've no doubt, and wayside flowers, and there's nothing I should enjoy more than watching them. But I can't. Get me on that machine, and I have to go... Why should a man rush about like a rocket, all pace and fizzle?... I can assure you, sir, I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

In my opinion the best way of progressing from A to B is to walk. The second best way is to cycle. Alan feels the same, only in reverse order. Our physiques differ accordingly. When Alan, lithe and graceful, climbs onto his machine he becomes part of it; a picture of slim, spinning, curving, swishing movement. You will find me pounding along behind him and, having taken one glance at me in shorts, you will agree that these legs were meant for walking. ~Elizabeth West, "The simple life, on a pittance," Hovel in the Hills: An Account of 'The Simple Life', 1977

      At that he rushed his machine into the road, and began a hasty ascent. Unsuccessful. Try again. Confound it, will he never be able to get up on the thing again?... Once more. Ah! Pedal! Wabble! No! Right this time! He gripped the handles and put his head down. He would overtake her.
      The situation was primordial. The Man beneath prevailed for a moment over the civilised superstructure... He pushed at the pedals with archaic violence. So Palæolithic man may have ridden his simple bicycle of chipped flint...
      A certain numbness came and went at his knees... He was getting winded. The road was certainly a bit uphill... His breath became audible, his steering unsteady, his pedaling positively ferocious... The road really was uphill beyond dispute. All his physiology began to cry out at him... His front wheel suddenly shrieked aloud...
      He got off unsteadily, and for a moment his legs felt like wisps of cotton... He balanced his machine against the grassy edge of the path and sat down panting... His legs had gone leaden. "I'm hardly in training yet," he remarked. ~H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896

      A century ago, the ball-bearing was invented. It reduced the coefficient of friction by a factor of a thousand. By applying a well-calibrated ball-bearing between two neolithic millstones, a man could now grind in a day what took his ancestors a week. The ball-bearing also made possible the bicycle, allowing the wheel — probably the last of the great neolithic inventions — finally to become useful for self-powered mobility.
      Man, unaided by any tool, gets around quite efficiently... Man on his feet is thermodynamically more efficient than any motorized vehicle and most animals. For his weight, he performs more work in locomotion than rats or oxen, less than horses or sturgeon...
      Man on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process... The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man out-strips the efficiency of not only all machines, but all other animals as well...
      The bicycle lifted man's auto-mobility into a new order, beyond which progress is theoretically not possible. ~Ivan D. Illich, "Degrees of Self-Powered Mobility," Energy and Equity, 1974

All bicycles weigh fifty pounds. A thirty-pound bicycle needs a twenty-pound lock. A forty-pound bicycle needs a ten-pound lock. A fifty-pound bicycle doesn't need a lock. ~Author unknown

Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia, sometimes following beside the great high roads, but oftener taking their own more agreeable line amidst woods and crops and pastures; and there will be a rich variety of footpaths and minor ways. There will be many footpaths in Utopia. There will be pleasant ways over the scented needles of the mountain pinewoods, primrose-strewn tracks amidst the budding thickets of the lower country, paths running beside rushing streams, paths across the wide spaces of the corn land, and, above all, paths through the flowery garden spaces amidst which the houses in the towns will stand. ~H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia: A Sociological Holiday, 1904

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published 2002 Mar 9
revised 2021 Sep 26
last saved 2023 Aug 15