Metaphysically Cycling

Sometimes I rant, sometimes I impart wisdom, sometimes I talk about routes and sadly sometimes I try to be too clever for my own good, this blog post is one of the later.

This morning as I was short on time today I decided to do another round of core exercises. This led to met to question of “What am I trying to achieve?”, this led onto sporting success or just enjoy and make my cycling slightly better. This then made me wonder “What is cycling?” and “What is sport?”, since I once paid attention in a lecture on Socrates I felt I could at least hint at an answer. I bet that makes you feel glad, a nice warm tingly feeling inside.

So get ready from terrible philosophy of sport thinking.

Everyone at some point ponders in a metaphysical way. We have all asked “What am I?”, “Do I exist?”. I think we should all blame Socrates for that, for he began many of his philosophical discussions by saying “What is ***?”. Humanity has been on a downward spiral ever since someone invited Socrates to that dreaded symposium for the first time. So we can take the basic Socratic idea to cycling as I was thinking during my own self induced torture. We can ask the metaphysical questions “What is cycling?” and “What is sport?”, I answered the “What is fit?” by presuming it was the opposite of the shape I currently am.  So as I want more people to look at the blog I will focus on “What is sport?” and come back to “What is cycling?”, I will also point out this will be a very simple introduction designed to make you think, something that is only slightly more painful than being made to exercise.

So, what is sport?

I am asking you?

What is sport?

I am hoping that by now you have answered me, hopefully aloud to the bemusement of people around you. With this answer, I am going to presume you named certain sports, the main reason for this is that it suits my narrative. My next question then is did you say darts, mountaineering or playing video games? Are those examples even sports? See, it might not be as easy to define a sport as you think it is.  In a moment where I hope my inner Derren Brown has functioned correctly, I am now going to mention some of the sports you answered me with.

I am going to guess that you said things such as football, rugby, athletics, tennis, and hockey. If I am wrong just pretend you said those things so as not to damage my ego because to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what activities you said.

Have a look at the list I just wrote, what is the similarity between all those sports? Is it that they all have rules? Do you have to be in peak physical condition to triumph? Is there a world championship? Will you get into a fist fight about the winner?

So now we can see that answering this question of “What is sport?” is slightly harder than we originally thought. Now think of your own metaphysical conception of what is sport and we can see that it will directly affect your normative conception. For instance if being in peak physical condition is prerequisite for sport, where does that leave playing video games or even darts? Our metaphysical conceptions will affect every part of our daily lives, even if we do not recognise them as metaphysical conceptions.

Since I am writing a cycling blog, look at the idea of doping. Is it wrong to dope? What is doping? What about using TUEs to dope? What if everyone else is doping? Does doping contravene the ethics of sport? If it convenes the ethics of sport, what is sport and why does it need ethics?

In order to start answering the doping question we still need to know what is sport and what is cycling? So what actually is cycling? How do we define cycling?

Take a minute and define cycling for me.

What is it?

  • sport
  • transport
  • Strava
  • delivery service
  • work
  • road, mtb, BMX, fixie, track, enduro
  • going out with a club
  • going out with friends
  • a fast way to a coffee shop
  • a way to cross continents
  • a way to empty your bank account

Cycling is many a thing to many different people, what is it metaphysically?

Do we even truly want an accurate description of cycling (or sport in general)? Would this be a desirable outcome? Is there a way we can test the description? How can we ever know if this is actually a true definition? Would it truly encompass what cycling/sport is for everyone?

If we look at track cycling, I would assume that nearly everyone would suggest that it is indeed a sport. If we look at street BMX would we consider it a sport, in fact, many people may consider it an art form, would you consider track cycling an art form? Both though are undoubtedly forms of cycling for most people. So should we look at cycling as a form of sport or as an aesthetic expression of the self?

I should probably never ever do core exercises again, next time I do though I will carry this on.

Blame Socrates.



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