The 1985 film, Turtle Diary, and the book by Russel Hoban upon which it is based, may not be to everyone’s taste. The film’s plot, which revolves around freeing captive sea turtles, would likely resonate much more today than it did in 1985. However, when I viewed the film back then, one of the lines in the movie, spoken by actor Ben Kingsley to his co-star Glenda Jackson – “everything isn’t sex” – was a bit of a shock, both to the characters in the film, as well as to viewers. The odd syntax and brutal honesty of this simple statement probably destined the film (and book) to our culture’s nether regions.
Western society focuses on extremes: the longest ride, the highest mountains, the fastest race times. This focus has a chilling effect on “normal” cyclists, who use their bikes for transportation, exploration, and communing with nature. When asked by friends and other cyclists about the day’s ride, the most frequent question is “how many miles did you do?” or “what was your average speed?”. Not “tell me about the ride” or “what wildlife did you see today?”.
Most cyclists enjoy other activities: hiking, running, walking, birding, gardening, children, cooking, wrenching…the list goes on. We don’t “live to ride”. Instead, the bicycle is simply part of our daily lives. We don’t need to do a century every weekend, nor one-up each other with tales of amazing descents and all-out sprints (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Our bicycles are an amazing tool, allowing us to explore our surroundings while invigorating our bodies and spirits. Everything isn’t cycling. But cycling is a transformative experience upon which many good things are based.