What home means when you ride

Their homes greet drivers with automatic garage doors, and the same controlled air and broadcast entertainment they were being soothed by 10 minutes ago on the freeway. They step from their car to their kitchen, turn on the radio or the TV, grab a cold soothing beer from the fridge, and don’t even appreciate what a dream run they’ve been given; their bodies soothed into gelatinous blobs with just enough strength to point a remote.

For the cyclist, home is nothing at all like the journey. The journey home has been exposed, energetic, and at times perilous. Home is markedly contrasting, with a hot shower, dry clothes, a litre of water and a biscuits or a banana to satiate hunger flats.

Now imagine a home that celebrated this contrast. Rather than prolonging the transition from pain to pleasure, with afterthought bike parking facilities and a lousy old shower off the side of the laundry, this new kind of home would welcome cyclists with the very best room, grand and well lit, with purpose built bicycle store racks, and an enormous hot bath in the middle.

The hour is too late for us to talk falsely now gents. The home has not evolved in this fashion, because our wives drive. Dads, we have optimised our bread winning capacity, by cycling instead of driving to work, and thus worn our cycling as some kind of hair shirt. Well enough of this, I say. It is time we converted the front rooms of our houses into bike display rooms, with our bicycling gear hanging from racks, the way we first saw it on display in the bike shop. I want to arrive home like a soldier returning to the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. I suffered enough on the road.

But even without this, I can be glad the concept of home is still stronger for me, than for those who cling to comforts wherever they go. Let their world be a blancmange. I would rather my life have some contrasts.


  1. I shall start demanding unguents, and peeled grapes, and some suitably filled amphorae, basically setting the expectation that every day is a Saturnalia for the bicycle commuter.

    • Steven says:

      oh and we shall have scholars of Greek reading us Homer, and teaching us delightful new words, like unguent, amphorae and Saturmalia. Or perhaps John, you could make podcasts?

  2. Hemp Bike says:

    Bugger. I work from home.

  3. Luke says:

    Steven, much as I like your idea of scholars of Greek reciting Homer and teaching us new words, I’m afraid that both “unguent” and “Saturnalia” are of Latin origin.

    For what it is worth, after exercising in the palaistra (wrestling ground) or “gymnasion” (literally “the place where one gets naked” or “gymnos”), Greek athletes seem to have cleaned up by anointing themselves with olive oil (“Khristos” or Christ means “the anointed one”). Then they scraped that off with a strigil, an uncomfortable looking metal device. It was left to the Romans to think up the whole bath thing (though they may have gone in for the olive oil/strigil routine BEFORE getting into the bath. So while I consider myself philhellene, I think we should, as you originally suggested, follow the Roman example here.

    In case you’re wondering, “pedant(ic)” seems to come from a french or italian word, rooted in Latin that itself derives from the greek paidgogus. (I have used greek rather than latin spellings throughout in the spirit of your original comment.)

    • Luke says:

      Steven, I must apologise for presuming to correct you when I am myself wrong. Second last line “paidgogus”- I noticed a typo, and that I was confusing latin and greek spelling, so looked it up. A “paidagogos” was originally a slave that accompanied a boy to school, though I think it (much) later came to mean teacher. Fabius, who followed Hannibal around for ages without fighting him, was referred to as H’s paidagogos. Origin of “pedant” more likely to be paideia (training/education) or similar.

      Hoist by my own pedantry.

    • Steven says:

      You know my mother used to chastise me, saying sarcasm is the lowest form of humour. I would say, “No mother, it’s pedantry.” She never got it, poor dear

    • Steven says:

      Luke, for a long time I have thought cycle-space, to be a genuine enterprise, should have a resident latin and greek scholar. I am happy to remain the resident philosopher, but am herewith appointing you for a five year term. What should I send you? A laurel leaf?

  4. Luke says:

    I am happy to waive my normal fee of olive oil in return for the said wreath.

    • Steven says:

      Okay, the wreath is in the mail and we’ll look forward to photos of you wearing it, in ancient Olympic attire.

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