Spinning wheel stopped

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.”
– Elizabeth West

An old bicycle silent as the past leans slightly on its kickstand.

The pastel pink and blue relic, spotted with rust, highlighted with streaks of nickel and silver, used to whir down streets and alleys, circle in driveways, and bring joy from its mere simplicity.

A smile from a child’s first ride was so powerful it’s still imprinted somewhere in the bicycle’s rusty DNA chain. It was a smile that spread like sunshine across the blue expanse, brought to reality the abstract idea of freedom.

Our roaming photographer captured the image at last weekend’s swap meet at the Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo Grounds in Decatur. The clouds overhead blocked the sun and limited shadows. A wide-open aperture used available light only.

The bicycle stands out. It’s crammed among old, loud combustion engines. Each one valued for memories they recall.

But the bicycle is different because the rider provided the engine. Her or his willpower was the fuel. It determined the speed, the reliability, the power, of the vehicle.

The bicycle is more than memory or history. It’s life itself. It only stops moving forward when we stop giving effort. Then, like a headstone, it’s propped up on its kickstand in the grass as a reminder of what was.

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