|It seems Jean-Jacques Sempé remembers learning to ride a bicycle|
Bicycles represent to me the height of human achievement. They may not be the most technologically advanced creation, they may not represent the greatest political accomplishments, they may not represent the most stunning art. But taken as a whole, the bicycle accomplishes what no other creation has; the bicycle represents a form of freedom that countless remember tasting for the first time at the tender age of three, or four, or seven; the bicycle exists as the most convenient form of clean transport on earth; the bicycle offers people a way of travelling far and fast that they would otherwise be unable to do; the bicycle provides us with some of the most spectacular, gut-wrenching, beautiful endeavours of human achievement.
The bicycle is freedom, sport, art, literature, politics, women’s suffrage, technology, transport and many other things. For some of us, it is also love, lust, passion, excitement, even fervour.
I can’t say “I remember the first time I rode a bicycle…I remember the sense of freedom, the wind in my hair…Oh, I was smiling from ear to ear…” as my memory is not so good. But I can say with confidence, if not certainty, that the above sentiments apply to me. I still get that feeling now, almost a quarter of a century after I first turned a bicycle crank (except that now you have to wear a helmet, which reduces the pleasure of the wind in the hair).