Thursday, 21 January 2010
Run Rabbit, run
Me in Chamonix. Photo: Tom Humpage
I went out with my sister last night and we weren't on the bikes. God no. The last time she got on a bike was when I hauled her sorry ass over the Golden Gate Bridge on a tandem. So we went out and we got to talking and we both agreed that it's taken a while but we can no longer avoid the crushing realisation that: This. Is. It. This is it. You can hum the Strokes here, I find it helps. And this realisation reminded me of a sentence from Updike's Rabbit which has literally been on my mind for years. I paraphrase of course, but it's something like: 'somehow overnight I had morphed from being someone who had so much potential, into someone who could have been so good.' We decided, over our second bottle of Pinot Grigio (natch) that the morphing had indeed taken place. No matter, we both still had our health and wrinkled youth, besides what's the future when you have chilled white wine?
But as I ploughed into work this morning, a sole cool-clad cyclist in a sea of day-glo and bad, bad footwear, I got cataclysmically panicked. Agreed the hangover wasn't helping but let's just focus here people, yeah? Jesus I thought, I've missed the boat. I didn't even know where it was going, but it's gone. Look at all these people pedalling so fast on squeaking chains, flashing lights clinging to every orrifice, they're still racing to catch the boat – they can still see it. Me – I'm sat on the harbour wall with a big bag of chips, tenderly groping my extra fat wondering if it's worth trying to swim. Nah.
Back in the day before I morphed, cycling for me was amazing. It was challenging, every route a personal triumph. My road riding took me across America and through the Alps, opened up the landscape and a side of me that relished in the present and enjoyed overcoming obstacles. Mountain biking used to be about beers and berms, rock music and the closest thing I could find to mad, off-piste skiing. Even commuting was a great way to start and end a day, a chilled ride through one of the greatest cities on earth.
And I'm sorry to be depressed about it, because all the blogs I read are really upbeat all the time about bikes. And I'm still stoked on bikes and I think the chicks are amazing – 2010 is a wicked year for MTB for sure. But it's getting really boring have some over weight bloke get pissed off when I pass him on the way to work, and then try and sandbag me the rest of the way to Farringdon. It's quite sad the way the industry is so cliquey. It's frustrating the way mainstream journalism can't get its head around using experts to write their bike information; and it's so demoralising when it seems like everyone is so caught up outdoing each other with all the bollocks that they forget everyone is free to ride a bike however they like.
My mate Mark who runs GPM10 and re-inspires me every summer when I ride with him in Chamonix, says it's all just a load of bollocks and if you hang out in Cham with proper cyclists you rise above all that stuff. So maybe it's time to make the move. Plus he's like 46 or whatever, so has done a lot more morphing than me.
In the meantime I watched this montage of the TransAmerica trail from a blog on Adventure Cycling's website. I did this route in 2006, on my own. Wicked. I hope it's not the best thing I've ever done on a bike, but it feels like that today.