If I were to tell you a story about a tall, skinny, beardy bloke, his faithful mount and their travels in pursuit of impossible goals, there are a couple of things that might come to mind. If you’re a well educated, liberal and worldly resident of the USA you probably have no idea what I’m on about but for the rest of us this (hopefully) evokes images of Cervantes Don Quixote, the eternal Spaniard, his horse ROcinante and his faithful companion Sancho Panza.
I read Cervantes novel the year I left school and I can empathise with it’s tragic (or comic) protagonist. The first art piece (and up until last week the only art piece) I bought for myself was picasso’s simple sketch of the knight and his servant. It had pride of place in my apartment (when I had an apartment to call my own!). I liked the idea that Quixote, bound up with ideas of loyalty and chivalry set out into a cruel world and wouldn’t let it its cruelty do anything to alter his perceptions.
So why have I started writing lit crit? Well I’m off on a bit of a journey myself as well, and I dare say that I’ll be tilting at a few windmills en route. Also I’ve purchased a really pants car; but when I saw that it was a citroen xsara Picasso I knew it had to be and my whole mission came together. So now it’s me, pablito the Picasso and my carbon Rocinante. I’m sitting on a ferry, surrounded by families eating their fish and chips and Belgians reveling in their mullets (at least I presume that is a look of revelry, either that or they’ve stepped in something).
I’ll be landing in Belgium tonight and racing my way back to my house in Spain. Living the dream and smelling the nightmare (or at least the heady cocktail of sweat and embrocation which I know from previous car dwelling in the Benelux experiences). On the way I will be doing a spot of writing, a lot of riding and a fairly large amount of adventuring. I’ve set off with my entire stash of prolong, a big bag of action wipes, a pillow a blanket, my clothes and my bike. I’ll keep racing until money runs out or they stop offering edible primes.
Trying to race on your own, at the national and international level, “unassisted” might be tilting at windmills but like don Quixote when I started playing the game I found out the rules and I don’t intend to break the rules just to win the game, because then the game isn’t fun anymore. I’ve enjoyed racing again and I’ve decided that all I want from the rest of the year is the feeling I had last week. I really do this, not for the victories (which is just as well because im averaging about one a year!) but for the release that you get from being totally and utterly exhausted, knowing that you gave all you had to give. Of course I still want to win, that’s part of the game as well but just like don Quixote, I don’t really mind if training hard, eating right and racing harder is a fiction, if it’s just a story for children that your team are like your family and that you can change people’s lives whilst racing your bike if reality is different I’m going to keep living in a storybook world. After all, Picasso didn’t paint Don Quixote being beaten by bandits but sitting proudly upright so maybe don Quixote did win and maybe I can as well.
Lest this appear too serious I also have other plans: im going to shave a little bit of my facial hair every day, kind of like an advent calendar but on my face. Suggestions welcome.
Oh and in funny stuff I’ve seen this week: the cyclotourist who just got on the feery, walked into the buffet and stripped down to his bibshorts, speed bumps which you can catch SICK AIR off to make 160km race go a little faster (and people in the bunch who don’t like it), the Hoff announcing he would be performing in Brisbane when he meant Brighton, my little sister’s attempts to “undercut” the chocolate cake so it looks like she hasn’t had any and 80kph on an unsurfaced road, actually that wasn’t funny at all…..