bikes only

Last Wednesday, Ms. McCaskill and I headed north to Mackinac Island for a long overdue holiday. This was our first trip to the island, but I gather that it’s a rite of passage and an annual pilgrimage for many Michiganders. Mackinac Island is known for a lot of things, but one frequently near the top of any list is the fact that no automobiles are allowed on the island. There are pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, and bicycles. Lots and lots of bicycles.

What’s so striking about the centrality of transportation cycling is that it’s not a recent decision made in response to a trend. Horseless carriages were outlawed on the island at the turn of the twentieth century! Aside from bike racks virtually everywhere, there’s  little in the way of bicycling infrastructure. Bikes are simply part of the landscape in the same manner cars are everywhere else.

Given this state of affairs, it is not surprising to see that the selection of bikes and equipment is driven foremost by utility. These bikes and the accessories affixed to them are built around function (e.g., comfortable, upright riding positions; easy on and off frame designs; big racks and baskets; large pull-behind carts; and so on).

I could go on and on talking about how refreshing it was to occupy a space like this for a spell, and about how many cool things I saw that involved a bicycle in some way or another, but I think I’ll just leave it at this: for three days, I felt like I was part of a world actually made for human beings to live in.

Now, there were hundreds and hundreds of bikes on the island, and they all exhibited their own sense of style. But, in view of some research I’m doing to prepare for a course I’ll be teaching next spring, there was one that really caught my eye (pictured to the right).

Yes, that’s Jesus capping a tire valve. As great as Continental Ultra Gator Skins and Schwalbe Marathon Duremes may be, neither holds a candle to the durability, impenetrability, and leak-stopping  power of the Son of God. Anyone said to have exorcised demons, stilled storms, and raised the dead can surely ward off evil flats. Who’s a better bet against unwanted tire deflation than the one who infused his disciples with the holy spirit by breathing on them?

I did a little digging, and it appears to be a pencil topper converted to a valve cap (which, of course, must in some way compromise the miracle-working abilities associated with the figure — but then again sometimes even a little Jesus goes a long way). Want some for your ride? Click here.

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