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Arts Vanity: The Dilettante’s Guide to Tasteful Cycling

Charles W. McCormick '24, Campus Exec
Charles W. McCormick '24, Campus Exec By Courtesy of Sofia Andrade
By Charles W. McCormick, Crimson Staff Writer

Death, taxes, and traffic in the bike lane between the Quad and the River. Residents of Cabot, Currier, and Pfoho are all too familiar with the fleet of scooters and bicycles making the daily trek to greener pastures, and as a recent bike owner myself, I can understand why. Not only do micromobility vehicles cut down on travel time, but they also provide us with an outlet for artistic expression like no other.

Yes, that’s right! I live in the Quad! Woe is me. Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to reflect on my cycling journey and the lessons it’s taught me about style — a journey that began when I became acquainted with athletes who swear by the scooter.

I have them to thank for introducing me to Dartmouth pong and increasing the font size of periods to make my essays longer, but also the convenience of wheels. I resolved to buy a bike at the start of the semester and have since learned that the ten-minute cruise toward the River is rife with opportunity to enjoy art. What follows is a list of insights and recommendations for maximizing the artistic experience of riding a bike.

1. Share Something Beautiful With the World

When I first perused the racks at Cambridge Bicycle, I was lost among dozens of tricked-out rides. I didn’t think what the bike looked like mattered as much as its function, until all of a sudden, she appeared before me. Azure blue, topnotch suspension, 24 speeds — a mechanical Matisse with color and fluidity that serenaded the eyes. It was love at first sight. I had a blast with The Queen, as I dubbed her, who dazzled passersby with her luster and regality. Maybe a little too much, though. The Queen lasted about two weeks before someone decided she was too good for me, and now all I have to remember her is a sawed-through bike lock. Tough year for queens.

2. Okay So Don’t Share Anything Too Beautiful

The way your bike looks matters, but maybe settle for a work from Henri Matisse’s friend, Othon Friesz — famous in his own way but a little more subtle. I picked up a gray, rusty little hybrid (name pending; need to keep assessing the vibe) off Facebook marketplace for a fifth of the price of The Queen, and it has lasted five times as long. To decorate this bike without making it a target for theft, I wrapped some glittery Christmas tinsel around the handlebars. The brakes don’t really work, but when I cause an accident at the next intersection I fail to stop at, I can do so peacefully knowing I’ll have spread holiday cheer to all those who saw me.

3. Embark on a Musical Adventure

What better way to pass the time on a bike than bumping some tunes? My long, solitary excursions have given me the opportunity to appreciate music in new ways this semester. I let “Un Verano Sin Ti” and “Renaissance” energize me on tough rides. Sometimes I revisited oldies like “Gr*duation” by K*nye W*st to relive the glory days. One time I even listened to the “Interstellar” soundtrack so I could more easily pretend I was on a spaceship. While bikes make the streets a more colorful place for everyone, they also let you encounter more avenues of enjoying art on your own.

4. Embrace the Beauty of Nature

The outdoors possesses an artistic merit itself. My bike enables me to explore the beautiful nature areas surrounding us, like Mount Auburn Cemetery, Belmont Cemetery, Highland Meadow Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Ridgelawn Cemetery, and so on. Boston’s green spaces are just so charming and alive!

5. Lean Into Cyclist Fashion

I don’t own any proper cycling attire myself, but there’s really nothing sexier than those bodysuits real cyclists wear. I don’t have much else to say on that, they’re just that cool.

I still have much to learn about the art of cycling, but there’s a list to kick things off. Not only do bikes bring art into the worlds of those you pass on the street, but cycling awakens the rider to the true artistic value of today’s music, alternative modes of fashion, and even nature itself. I haven’t biked around Cambridge in the winter or spring at all, but my wanderlust has been irrevocably catalyzed. What can go wrong biking in the snow and ice?

—Incoming Editor-at-Large Charles W. McCormick can be reached at If he doesn’t respond, look him up on Twitter (@chuckmcc1) — he’s funnier in person, I swear!

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