Monday, 14 July 2014

Bastille day and a brief story

 It's Bastille day. A few years ago it was also Bastille day when I decided to race in France even though i'd had my ribs broken by an angry cow three days before.

 I rode to the race because it was only 30k away (but i forgot to factor in the Pyrenees so I only just made it). Then i took sleeping pills instead of the paracetamol i thought i had bought. Then we all crashed into a dog, French people flicked lit cigarette butts at me whenever i poked my nose off the front.

 I won a bottle of wine,  i got a flat riding home and arrived in Lourdes in the dark with no battery left in my front light. I drank the wine.

 I sometimes wonder how i have managed to continue being alive.

Friday, 4 July 2014


(please be kind to my spelling, I wrote this with two digits in between two sleepless nights and two rather voluminous Brazilians on an aeroplane between two countries)
On Saturday I rode for 5 hours, first with a group then with my thoughts then with my friend and finally with a pretty high blood lactate level. On Sunday I rode  hours on dirt with another friend. By the 5 hour point on Sunday I was certainly treading on thin ice, I was out of water and my head was thumping, i'd thrown up in my mouth and even benign singletrack was beyond me as I rode the brakes hard.

Descending on a dirt track I saw a puddle, I was so cracked I wanted desperately to roll in it. The first house we came across was the first door I've ever knocked on that far from anywhere, I was expecting a torrent of abuse at worst  d a hose at best. Instead, the lady who came out to meet my salt encrusted self collapsed over my bars on her porch rushed inside to bring us iced water and huge slices of watermelon. After expressing our thanks we rolled to the top of the last hill with our jerseys open and salt and sand caked on our cheeks. We stopped at a store with a swinging sign and a large array of chewing tobacco and animal feed. We drank pop and ate ice cream sandwiches and smiled and laughed and let melted ice cream mix with the sweat on our arms and didn't care.

In the 21st century so few of our pleasures are uncomplicated. Delicious food has too many calories, beer means we can't drive (or dance) safely, clothes come from sweatshops and electronics aren't much better. Even deciding how we want to indulge ourselves is hard: apple or PC? Which of the18 types of ice cream do I want? What I love bout riding my bike is the purity and simplicity. I ride until my body decides there is no more riding in it and then rest until its ready to ride again. I love he lack of gut and the purity of pleasure it provides. Sitting on  a strangers porch eating watermelon was one of the purest moments of joy I can remember because, for that moment nothing else mattered. There was no guilt and no thought that anything else could be preferable. With a glass of water and a piece of fruit I was totally content.

I'm sure I would be much better at winning bicycle races and lots of other things if I was more accepting of shades of gray but I love the black and white agony and ecstasy which I get from riding in my bike.  I love being totally exhausted and totally content and I don't think id give that up for more chances to stand on boxes. Its the same reason I love not for profit and the same reason