And they shall beat their bicycles into

WBC church members think I talk about cycling too much. But this will be it’s first – and possibly last – mention on this blog page.

I remember as a teenager being captivated by an article in Mountain Biking UK magazine about swiss mountain biking commandos. For about a century, the swiss army trained troops to use bicycles in “radfahrer” regiments – at first they were a branch of the cavalry, issued with special bayoneted pistols, but later, the units transferred to the infantry. They rode 40lb bicycles over-laden with military gear (mortar rounds, machine guns, camping and cooking stuff etc over rough terrain. Even as a super keen teen cyclist, it struck me that you would have to be superhuman to pedal one of those beasts on a level road, let alone on a mountain track. One of my classmates at theological college had done his Swiss military service with one of these units and he confirmed that it was tough going. In 1995 the Swiss army withdrew the units, presumably realising that on uneven ground, a heavily laden bicycle is pretty much dead weight.

There are a whole load of reasons why I’m a cyclist:
1. My dad and my granddad cycle(d). I guess it’s in my genes.
2. We’re stewards of God’s creation. We should grasp zero carbon transport with both hands.
3. Fresh air, exercise, extended life expectancy, (crashes notwithstanding!), space to think.
4. MOUNTAIN BIKING – lung busting climbs, breathtaking views, flying descents.
5. I believe that car useage and social cohesion are inversely proportional to one another.

I occasionally get asked whether I think there’ll be mountain biking on the new earth. I don’t care very much about this. The key ingredients of the new heaven and new earth are God and God’s people. But I wonder….. Bicycles have been of enormous benefit to humankind – the first form of affordable mechanised transport – helping to alleviate poverty, connecting isolated communities and liberating oppressed women, driving peaceable innovation in metalworking. Furthermore, as the swiss army has finally realised, they are utterly useless as weapons of war. Isaiah says that in the age to come swords will be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks. Jeremiah Wright added tanks being beaten into tractors in his prayer at Obama’s inauguration. But what about bicycles. What would they be beaten into? Bicycles perhaps?