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My Veloipede

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I envy not his gallant steed
That man who doth bestride;
For I have a Velocipede,
Which I prefer to ride

On, on we go, machine and load,
And never stop to bait;
Toll-free along the turnpike-road
We clear each turnpike gate

To keep a hobby-horse like mine,
You need not keep a man;
You pay no tax, so, I opine,
It is the better plan

No paddock he requires, on grass,
At seasons to be fed;
No’er comes, in stable, to the pass
Of eating off his head

He never jibs, he never shies,
He never runs away;
He never, stumbling as he flies,
Goes down as though to pray

For why? Because he is, with knees,
Provided, as with heels,
Therefore no fits of kicking seize
Him whatsoe’er he feels.

To mend his pace no whip, no spur,
To curb, no bit, no rein,
No ” tclcqk!” wants he to make him stir,
Nor “wo!” him to restrain

Uphill we pull, downhill we drag,
On level ground we speed.
Ha, ha! Ho, ho! my new-built Nag!
My own Velocipede!

(Punch, Volume 57, Aug 7th 1869, p. 52)



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The bike inscribes disconcerting things in you. Your seat has a memory that shouldn't be confused with ordinary memory. The body retains memories of episodes and effort. Sometimes the most difficult, most arduous memories are lost. What's left are unexpected memories of unexpected moments that at the time were not felt to be exceptional but which the muscles have chosen to remember for reasons of their own.

--Paul Fournel, Need for the Bike

Mulga Bill's Bicycle

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'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"

"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."


Ode to Bicycles

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I was walking
a sizzling road:
the sun popped like
a field of blazing maize,
was hot,
an infinite circle
with an empty
blue sky overhead.

A few bicycles
me by,
the only
that dry
moment of summer,
barely stirred
the air.

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