I just got a bike and am a happy to report that I’ve completed 2 rides with no damage except painful quads and shoulders. As part of my initiation into what I am rapidly discovering is another sub-culture I was pointed by a friend to what is known as “The Rules” hosted by Velominati (who profess to be Keepers of the Cog).
We are the Keepers of the Cog. In so being, we also maintain the sacred text wherein lie the simple truths of cycling etiquette known as The Rules. It is in our trust to maintain and endorse this list.
The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path to La Vie Velominatus, not at the end; learning to balance them against one another and to welcome them all into your life as a Velominatus is a never-ending struggle waged between form and function as we continue along The Path towards transcension.
Now at this point I wish to direct you to Rule #23
You may only employ the aerodynamic tuck after you have spun out your 53 x 11; the tuck is to be engaged only when your legs can no longer keep up. Your legs make you go fast, and trying to keep your fat ass out of the wind only serves to keep you from slowing down once you reach escape velocity. Thus, the tuck is only to be employed to prevent you slowing down when your legs have wrung the top end out of your block. Tucking prematurely while descending is the antithesis of Casually Deliberate.
I am pleased to report that while I didn’t tuck I reached escape velocity on this morning’s ride briefly breaking the speed limit of 50kmh (i’m sure with the margin of error on my bike computer it wouldn’t stand up in court) on a downhill stretch. I’d gone down the gears as far as I could and I couldn’t force the bike to go any faster by pedalling. At that point there was nothing more to do then let the bike take over.
And as I ripped down the hill, a bizarre combination of abject terror and slight smugness, it occurred to me that this was the Mormon gospel in microcosm. Yes, I’ll have to explain that so read on…
The Mormon gospel is a strange thing to those who are familiar with the Biblical gospel. Simply put, Jesus’ death does not sort everything out but makes it possible for you to sort everything out. It frees you to follow all the rules and thus attain perfection and the resultant progression to divinity. It’s perhaps best summed up in Joseph Smith’s embellishment of a famous Bible verse…
2Nephi 25:23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
Ripping down that hill and achieving escape velocity made me realise what it must be to be a Mormon. In Mormonism it’s as though trusting in the death of Jesus means that God hands you a great road bike and says “go, pedal hard and if you pedal to perfection then you will finally achieve escape velocity. After you’ve worked as hard as you can then the bike graciously takes over. It is by the bike that you will travel fast, after all that you can pedal.”
And so maybe, just maybe, in Mormonism you might achieve it. You might pedal very very hard so that you finally get to that point where your quads are burning away and yet it happens; escape velocity. Perfection attained. But anything less, if you don’t work at the rate of “all we can do” then there is no opportunity for the bike/grace to kick in on it’s own.
I was tired after an hour of riding and it took a fair bit of drive to bash out that final burst of energy. I’m not sure if I could have done it again any time shortly thereafter. But, of course, the Mormon gospel is calling on all Mormons to keep pedalling! Keep pushing away all the time, keep driving on for perfection. Keep flogging yourself mercilessly for escape velocity when the bike/grace can take over.
Now here’s the original. Spot the difference…
Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
If we’re going to maintain the bike imagery then you might like to view the Biblical gospel in this way:
Nothing to do. Let Jesus drive you in a motorbike with a massive engine and enjoy the ride. He has done everything necessary and you don’t do a thing. In fact, the most foolish and arrogant thing you could do is think that in the sidecar you are, somehow, contributing to the speed of the journey. When you’re on the road bike it’s clear to everyone who’s doing the work. But in the sidecar you don’t get to boast, Jesus does; He has done it all.
So when you’re tired of pedalling away at life to go as fast as you can, of battling against sin and trying to be perfect, which of these sounds like good news?