Sunday, February 6, 2011

Riding and Respect

Proving yet again that nobody has a research staff that reads as much (or has less to do) than The Cycle, one of our crack Interweb end-seekers recently directed me to this blog post about "the relationship between bicyclists and cemeteries." 

I'm not 100% sure where I land on this issue. I can completely understand that if you're in a cemetery paying respects to a loved one, the last thing you want to see is some fat, middle-aged Lance-wannabe doing sprint intervals in Lycra and tossing aside spent carbo-goo packets. But I think there are some compatibilities between cemeteries and cycling that need to be recognized and respected. Both are opportunities for quiet contemplation. Both can remind us of our small place in the world. And both -- for better or worse -- can remind us of our own mortality.

Several of the regular routes I used to ride with my dad featured spins through our small-town cemetery. In fact, I have vague, fuzzy memories of being towed among the tombstones when I was a toddler in a trailer behind his bike. We were never there to ponder the great mysteries of mortality... it was just a quiet, safe, car-free place to enjoy the world from two wheels, take in a view of the river valley, and stitch together the city streets on one side with the open country roads on the other. I had family there, under stones he would point out as we coasted past, the clicking of our freewheels lost in the buzz of cicadas. When I was old enough, he told me there were spaces among those stones for my grandparents and yes, even my parents. And long before I felt old enough, I laid him to rest among those stones.

So is it disrespectful to ride a bike in a cemetery? I don't know. Probably, in some situations. But when I visit Dad, it feels disrespectful to do it any other way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ah yes.... I've been known to visit my mom's grave site after a ride when I'm back in my home town. She might not know it was me if I wasn't on a bike. :-)

Peoria has a large and vintage cemetery known as Springdale. It actually has an official bike path passing through it, and it's pretty much the best way to travel from the Peoria riverfront to north Peoria where I live. It's a lovely old cemetery, but traffic does slow down when a funeral procession is winding its way through!

Steve in Peoria (of course)