About controlling… bike and life

posted by Paolo Volpara

Moved out of the big City and set my home on farm land where biking (on and off road) is theoretically better and practically spoiled by the way society keeps basic infrastructure and by the inquisitive, greedy nature of the protectors of the same society.

Riding kept going and the habit of thinking while riding or riding while thinking never disappeared: going out on two wheels is still like sitting on the wooden benches of my lyceum and spend time learning. My story of parallel worlds and rides was always there with little desire to share it: “riding is a way of thinking” true but silent. 

Lack of desire is in reality a lack of discipline. Bike calls, as masterful, attractive, intriguing teacher with the additional appeal of danger, a severe professor demanding attention as matter of life or death.  The banal answer?  Usual violence… being in control.

We all like to be “in control”: it sound safe and it looks cool. It goes from being in control of the can opener to being in control of life. 

We tend to believe that being in control is a sign of knowledge and competence and we call “stupid” the one who are surprised (stupefied) by reality, the ones who are not in control.

I was thinking about all this while riding recently: on the narrow mountain roads along the South coast of Turkey everything happens so fast and in such surprising way that challenges many ideas of control. 

In my parallel world I was considering that we behave on bike the same way we behave on life: we comfort ourselves with the dream of being at the centre and controlling what goes on around us, we are Ptolemy’s disciples, masters of the core and of the periphery. Copernicus for nothing: the geocentric system has been disproved centuries ago and it is still in our personal system: me, the sun, versus the others, versus nature, asphalt, corners.

After all I am a “competent rider” certified by documents from well-reputed training organisations, I spent and I spend portion of my riding life under severe discipline and observation, learning the system from respected teachers.  I have the right to be in control.

After all I am an official manager, a certified wife or documented husband, a professional father or qualified mother, an approved whateveryouwant…

I have been trained to be in control, I have sufficient intelligence, experience and recognition to rightly be in control. Reality will obey my rules and I will change it at my will.  This is why I train, isn’t? So I can be in control, ride safely, maybe telling peers how to do the same.

And then the road turns sharply and the big truck is neither on its line nor on its lane.  

And then there is no more space and the abyss looks back at you.

And then that should not be there.

And then that piece of wood fells in front of one of the only two wheels available.

And then a tire goes and the balance goes and vertical turns to horizontal.

And then the dog jump. And then you think “I can control it” and then you know you cannot control it

And then you are surprised and then you brace for impact. And then you are broken, wounded, dead.

And then you learn that “being in control” is just a dream, a nicely packed products that you can buy on line but you cannot use in life.

Life is dependence and unity: more you live and more you abandon the attempt of being in control: a simple process of learning how to flow with time, space, and the seven billions of cells that we call humans. 

Living the impermanence, knowing that everything changes and all transforms outside of our control but within our awareness: sounds to me as a good recipe for happy learning. And a good recipe for happy riding.

3 thoughts on “About controlling… bike and life

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  1. Control . Seems that Life within Society today is all about Control. Either being controlled or being in control. But as we immerse ourselves in junk media and gorge on junk food the outbursts from the Controlling seem more violent / chaotic. And we are ‘expected’ to follow the Control is Good mantra. And as I read the article I again reflect that biking is my escape from the Control. I get into The Zone and while I still have to work within certain parameters , I regained some freedoms. This quote from Hunter S Thompson always seem fairly accurate re Life and Riding.

    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
    ― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

  2. Pazartesi sabahı kapitalizmin kölesi olan insanlardan biri olarak yaşadığım iş telaşına ara verip, kötü ingilizcemle bu güzel yazıyı anlamaya çalışıyorum. Bir yandan da Erdal Atabek’in köşe yazsını okuyorum. Merak ettiğim Richard Sennett’in Karakter Aşınması (Corrosion Of Character) adlı kitabıyla ilgili alıntıları var. Atatürk ‘in işaret ettiği “özgür akıl özgür irade” yi kafamıza kazımadan aydınlığa çıkacak hiçbir yolun olmadığı karamsarlığıyla takıldım. Yazarın “alışmayın ey insanlar” söylemi beni OMM’ye götürdü. O’nun aylık yazılarını okumadan, geçen bu dönemin sıkıntısını içimde hissettim. OMM’nin yolunu aydınlatanlardan Sn.Paolo Volpara’nın yokluğuna alışmak istemiyorum.

  3. I was solo riding around the lake area last week and warning signes against loose gravel made me think… how many signes were actually necessary to warn me against all the hazards out there? What is the point on warning against just one? I will use it, but would we better off without the instructions so that we look far ahead, build competence, be responsible?

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