Body of Work

I recently discovered a blog called Obsessive Consumption. A woman draws a picture a day of something she’s purchased. The drawings are delightful – a gum wrapper, bobby pins, a ticket to a movie. She’s been at this for a long time, so she’s got this archive of little black and white sketches. Each day, a purchase, which on its own may be inconsequential, marks time and tells a story.

The appeal I suppose is similar to journal writing. I love the idea of rigorously documenting mundane stuff. This takes persistence, a daily practice and the lapse of time before you have a body of work that shows you something larger.

I am not interested in my daily purchases, or perhaps just not enough, in order to commit to such a project. The parallel daily habit in my life would certainly be cycling.

Biking is a bit of an obsession and it does lend itself to all kinds of documentation. I know cyclists who track their miles each year, their altitude and their heart rates. And over time, they can tell you how many times they have circled the globe. They can tell you how many Everests they have climbed.

For me, this type of cycling data has never made the whole experience seem greater than its parts. It’s a foreign currency. I can’t exchange yearly miles for intrinsic value or real meaning. But I was reminded this evening that everyday cycling does every once in a while give me something unaccountably larger than the daily ride.

It was one of those nights when I felt stronger than I really am. It was like a surprise upgrade to first class and I was flying in a way I’m not quite used to. On rides like this the speed comes effortlessly and the ground just spins beneath me. I am on top of the pedals, on top of the world. And this doesn’t come from nowhere. There are countless miles in these here legs. Without counting a single one, I feel myself as a larger body of work.

On rides like this, you don’t frame it, count it or clock it. All you need to know is already in your legs and you just let them fly.

From → Bike Love, Poetry, Random


  1. My sentiments, but exactly. When I built up my new Cannondale last year, I thought I’d leave the cyclometer off for a while, so as not to spoil the aesthetic right away. I ended up riding the whole season without it — and had my most fun and strongest year yet.

  2. BTW, very nicely written!

  3. For me it wan’t the cylometer so much. Instead, I had an really intense and volitile relationship with my heart rate monitor for a while. We are doing a trial separation right now. So far, so good! Here’s to feeling out our next strongest-year-yet, eh?

  4. Absolutely, Natalie — strongest and even more fun!

    BTW, I thought about my comment and realized that I, too, hung up the heart rate monitor for almost all of last year. What I learned about listening to my body was invaluable. Hope I remember it all this year, and stay healthy!

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