10 July 2007

Mud and Philosophy

Every Sunday morning at 7.45am I pull my weary body out of bed, put on a pair of baggy lycra shorts and go mountain biking with two friends (counting Jake, I have three friends).

Last Sunday my bike and I celebrated 3000 miles together: this magic number rolled up on my handlebar computer somewhere in the middle of Richmond Park (I can't be sure precisely where: having anticipated the moment for months when it came, of course, I missed it)

3000 miles! 3000 mainly muddy miles, for south west London has unexpected pleasures to offer the enthusiastic mountain biker. That's around 170 Sunday morning outings, perhaps 100 ascents of Richmond Alp, 75 crossings of the Col de Teddington, 30 wild descents of the Wimbledon Common Massif.

I like statistics.
  • miles covered - 3000
  • punctures in the rain when I was in hurry - 7
  • punctures in fine weather when I have all the time in the world - 0
  • broken spokes - 3
  • new front tires - 2
  • crushed squirrels -1
  • dog bites, while actually cycling along quite fast, actual teeth actually closing on my foot - 1
  • falls on to hard, dry ground - 4
  • falls into the cold, clammy River Crane - 1

We go pretty fast, for forty-something mountain bikers, but not so fast that we can't speak. "Of course its more than 3000 miles, really", I remarked casually, carelessly, to my cycling buddy as he pedalled, red faced, sweating and panting beside me, dutifully admiring the display that read 3001 "yes, a lot more than 3000 miles if you count the miles I've ridden with the computer not working"

"Well I don't count them," he replied, "No one would: just as the tree that falls in the forest with no one to hear it, makes not a sound, so the mile cycled without a computer to record it, is a mile untravelled" and with that he shot ahead.

Now, over the years the conventions for philosophical argument on two wheels have become very well established between us: in order to make your rejoinder you have to catch up, pull out of the slipstream and work your way alongside.

Put it this way: it's a form of philosophy in which you don't waste words.

It's also a form of debate that has the advantage of being the only type of philosophical discourse, at least so far as I am aware, that can be won by the strength in your calves. It's a bit like Alan Turing's run-around-the-house-chess, except you are more likely to end up sprawling on the floor with the contents of a water-bottle emptied down the back of your neck (a roughly 2 times in 170 chance, to be precise).

I couldn't quite catch him, so I squirted my water-bottle from a distance. I missed.

But 3000 miles! Did I celebrate? Reader: I held a margarita party. But is it still a party, if nobody comes?


Unknown said...

Hi, are you in the habit of stealing and taking the money from peoples mouths. Well, that is what you are doing to me. You did not even have the balls to e-mail and ask if you could use my photography. I am sure the BBC would be pissed to find that they recommend a site that employs gross copyright infringement.
So...... Remove my image from your site or pay me 50 quid.

Have you asked the other people also, or would you like me to do not that for you as you seem to not have the time.


TWJ Thornton

Anonymous said...


Your photo is posted

on flickr specifically as a PUBLIC picture ie you deliberately decided that you *want* people you don't know to see it, (otherwise you'd have it as private)

Additionally the photo has (and at time of writing this STILL has I see) the 'blog this' button enabled above it - which is rather an invitation for people who like your picture to... well... blog it.

I also credited you, so no question at all of stealing.

Hey, it's a good picture, that you, um, posted on the net as a public one for all the people in the world to to see. By blogging it some more people get to see it. I'm not really sure what you are complaining about?

Still, I'm happy to respect your wishes, and I've swapped it for another one. [a better one :-)]

Perhaps you might want to remove the 'blog this' invitation? Did you know you can also mark your pictures as private?

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think you are both wrong. TWJ is wrong, as you put it, because he had the "blog this" icon active. (granted, I didn't know one could disable this until I read the above comments) He should be proud that his photo is getting a bit of recognition and a little more exposure. You do not even have any ads on your site, so you are not making any sort of money off of it. You even went to the trouble of crediting the shot with a direct link to it. Lighten up, TWJ, and be happy that someone admires your shot enough to put it on their blog.
Botogol, I feel you are a bit out of line for not asking for permission to use his photo. Sure, he has the "blog this" button, but still it is common courtesy to ask before using. I am sure "gonebiking" was pleased when you asked him for permission to use his nice photo (which I agree, is a nice shot). Just because something is on the internet doesn't mean that it is free to be used however you want. Just because it is public for everyone to see, doesn't mean it is public for everyone to use.

That being said, I think I would be a bit flattered to see my shot being used for a non-commercial purpose. So, botogol, you win, just be courteous and ask people for their permission.


Botogol said...

wow, this post is like a B-movie monster rising from the dead!

I still think I'm right, but to be on the safe side, a while ago I decided only to use images with creative commons license.