In countries like Italy, France, Belgium and Switzerland, professional cyclists were the super stars of their day.
It is the period that the Eroica event celibates, and tries to recapture.
It was the era when I started cycling, and I remember what a joy it was to ride a bike in England back then. In the UK there was a lot less motorized traffic, and people were in less of a hurry.
We could always ride two abreast anywhere, and it was unlikely there was opposing traffic when a car needed to pass a couple of cyclists, or even a bunch of twenty or more.
There was no honking of car horns or screaming abuse, most people had grown up riding a bike to school, or probably their first job was delivering groceries on a bike, so they could relate. There was coexistence on the roads.
It has occurred to me recently that this era was not just the Golden Age of Cycling, but it was the Golden Age, period.
For a few brief years there was peace and prosperity, the world economy was booming as everyone rebuilt after the war. There were plenty of hard manual labor jobs available, where a person could work physically hard. Jobs for people of all levels of education.
Over the years life has become easier and easier, but easy does not necessarily go hand in hand with the quality of life.
Have we reached a point where our quality of life is now at a standstill or even in reverse?
At one point in ancient history people had to chase animals with a stick in order to eat and survive, life was extremely hard and there was much suffering.
The problem as I see it is that it took tens of thousands, if not millions of years to get from killing animals with a stick, to tying a rock on the end of the stick to make a simple tool.
Now in just the last two or three hundred years, technology has exploded and continues to develop at an ever increasing and alarming rate of speed.
Meanwhile our DNA, our bodies have not caught up with technology. We are still programmed to chase animals with a stick. We no longer have to work physically hard in order to eat, the result is we exercise too little, and eat too much.
Our children are unable to follow their basic instinct, and are constantly told, "Don't run." Watch any baby animal at play and it involves chasing each other, training for later life when they are either chasing or running away from other animals.
When I was a child our games too consisted of chasing each other, I remember I pretty much ran everywhere, two miles to school and back. Running was effortless, it seemed my feet hardly touched the ground.
I loved to climb trees, sitting at the top of an eighty foot tree, looking out over the canopy of a wooded area, is an experience I will never forget. Squirrels and birds would come and sit close to me. I cannot remember the last time I witnessed a kid in a tree.
It is a shame children and young adults cannot experience adventure. When I was fourteen I went touring on my bike with a school friend. We rode all over England, we slept in a tent, or stayed at Youth Hostels for very little money.
Maybe the reason video games are so popular is because it satisfies a need for adventure, along with a primitive instinct to chase something.
The problem is only virtual adventure, all in the mind and there is no physical effort associated with it. Real adventure prepares one for the real world. It involves physical activity, and interaction with real people.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning video games out of hand. I can remember being told that Rock n’ Roll and long hair would cause the downfall of Western Civilization. It did not, and neither will video games.
One answer for a young person would be to take a job like construction work that is hard physical labor, or take up a sport so the exercise and training has an end purpose.
The problem is some are so stressed working to maintain a “comfortable” life style, they just want to relax after a hard day at the office, and lead a sedentary life.
If we are honest, we don’t work hard anymore, not physically hard that is. Our minds work hard, multitasking, trying to cram a million things into our day. We rush here, we rush there. We end each day mentally exhausted, rather than physically exhausted.
Physical exhaustion means sleeping soundly at the end of the day, whereas, mental exhaustion means stress and the likelihood of being unable to sleep.
Governments are not going to change things for us, it is up to each individual to decide on his/her own lifestyle. “Less is more” is a worn out cliché I know, but learning to live simply on less, rather than trying to make more, is worth considering.
Question: What are you doing to make your life better? Not necessarily more prosperous, or easier, but a better quality of life