Saturday, 25 August 2012

long ride ramblings

You know when you go to a gig, and the band kicks off into some instrumental jams and everyone's into it for about  minutes, then it gets really pants really fast? I imagine that's how it feels to read another blog in which i tell you that it's really fun riding bikes. Of course it is, i've found some great dirt roads this week, ridden down palomar twice, done my first group ride since i hurt myself, rediscovered the pleasure of pop tarts and the pain of sunburn.
And so I'm sitting here with my guitar in my hands thinking about what to write. I'm pretty sure nobody want's to hear another word about Lance Armstrong, he's like turd cycling can't flush away. let's hope this is the start of the end of the whole saga and we can put his enormous hubris behind us.

Long rides begin like the best blog posts, with no direction and no plan, they flow with the way you feel. you turn right when the light is red and you planned to go straight, and you go straight when you planned to turn because you're busy unwrapping a sandwich. You go where you hadn't planned and somehow you wind your way back to where you started, or where you needed to be.

What i like most about long rides is the way the conversation goes into the most esoteric and existential topics. i discuss things with people on rides that i would never normally talk to them about. there's none of the usual male awkwardness, we talk about relationships, baking, emotions, salad dressing, music and lunch. It always seems a shame to me to ride with someone i haven't met before and to discuss exclusively "cycling" topics. A long ride is a great chance to get to know someone, who they really are and what they really think it's a shared journey, with shared emotions   and experiences. Asking someone about tyre pressure and grip tape doesn't seem to be a great use of that experience.

Whenever you fall in with guys who ride a lot for a long ride, the topics of conversation rarely stray to bike stuff. We might talk about cycling in it's essential (platonic?) nature but not about it's manifestations. For me the long ride at some point ceases to be about cycling. I've put in some big hours alone recently and i really value the chance to pick apart my own perspectives on things, to let song lyrics roll through my brain and bounce around inside. long rides bring me the kind of existential peace with myself that i don't think i could find elsewhere, the combination of mild oxygen deprivation, solitude and just enough mental stimulus from pedalling, steering and changing gear seems to put my brain in a really productive place. I have so many great ideas on a five hour ride, and i forget so many great ideas by the time i am capable of executing them but that's ok. What exists in the moment, when you're deep inside your own thoughts doesn't always work so well in the banal, possibility constrained "normal world". there's something to be said for the beauty of things which exist only in the moment, and those moments only seem to come to me in the mountains on my own.

So having said that i wasn't going to harp on about enjoying training i have just written the literary equivalent of a crowd surfing bass solo. please don't bottle me off stage, I'll revert to type soon. I'm off on an adventure tomorrow and i'm bound to do something silly enough to tell you about.

oh and while we are on the subject of concerts, check this out http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01mbrzt/Reading_and_Leeds_Festival_2012_The_Vaccines_and_Florence__The_Machine/

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