Cycling: body as research.

“My morning rides became meditative. Often the quiet flow of the river was the only accompaniment to my journey. Being near a body of water made me feel closer to God, even though I didn’t know what that was or even if I truly believed it existed. I started praying in earnest for the first time in my life. I was afraid of the dark, the cold, of my loneliness. I prayed that I would get to work safely. I prayed for acceptance of my situation. I prayed for relief of the consuming rage I felt …but prayer cannot fix a flat tire.”

Henry, 17

When cycling is research, creation happens in the deep tissue of my muscles. When cycling is research the movement through space in exchange for visceral effort is its own reward for the long day. Type two fun, the kind that sucks when its happening- and rules when its finished (Blackmer). To live cycling in this way, as part of an art practice, requires mind expanding, what making can be and has always been. To look through an alternative lens and appreciate everything a person does as the creating of a reality, a personal narrative and thus a valid contribution to the canon. The ways I use compassionate care (mutual exchange of goods and knowledge) in my ability to carry on make for a full embodied practice of everyday/everyway making. The political nature of the bicycle as a radical quest for change and social justice is well documented (Lugo, p.2). Anarchy as a form of feminism and radical care makes way for cycling as a means of social upheaval and a profound understanding of myself as an artist through physicality.

Bicycle/Race is a bicycle anthropology of Southern California investigating social justice by way of two wheels (i.e butts on bikes). In this text I’m confronting the ways in which I navigate myself as a cyclist in the scape of transportation, culture, and capitalist resistance. It becomes a question of living my politics through a committed cycling practice and understanding myself in the context of resistance. “Did bike commuting make someone seem unimportant or being an unimportant person make bicycling seem equally worthless? (Lugo, p.14)

Cycling the streets of Florida, the asphalt of my upbringing, I became acutely aware of my own obtuse thoughts on who cycling was for in the context of urban design. Those using cycling as a recreational activity (in conjunction with participating fully in the car culture of the capitalist economy), were exactly those with the time and resources to lobby for safe and well-maintained bicycle infrastructure anecdotally I saw this from cycling the A1-A highway, an affluent beach front road with a parallel pristine bicycle lane, or separate path. Which stands in stark contrast to highway 1A, upon which those who work on the other side of the bridge live and commute from. A mere 3 miles west the two highways exist as if intentionally discussing a paradigm. Those cycling for need, the politically “unimportant” navigated by a system of constant danger.

This in turn informs my art practice and who my making will support and uplift. A deep interpersonal understanding of those “unimportant” (because I am exactly that) gives me the tools to live my politics in a way that makes, gives, cycles and shares to intentionally confront the systems of our oppression.

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