Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Monday, 16 July 2012
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
This Land Is Your Land came on my iPod while I was out riding the other day.
There is a verse that goes:
The sun comes shining as I was strolling The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling The fog was lifting a voice was calling This land was made for you and me
Saturday, 16 June 2012
Sunday, 29 January 2012
I came across an interesting thought the other day, it was wedged between social media, my MA and some serious philosophers.
For my masters I had to write a contextual essay (to explain what the hell I thought I was doing), and I decided for I don’t know what reason to investigate the truth in non-fiction books. This is a pretty interesting topic simply because truth is such a difficult thing to define, and almost non-existent in any narrative form.
It went something like this:
The notion of truth in non-fiction is something that ultimately we understand, when engaging in the reading process, will on some level be flawed. On a psychological level ‘The human mind must think with the aid of categories’. (Allport: 1954) Human beings need a framework in which to see things to make sense of the world, but even those frameworks that allow us to understand the world are in fact constructed by our imagination. Kurt Vonnegut explained that writers seek to bring ‘chaos to order’ because ‘There is no order in the world around us’. (Vonnegut: 1988, p.155)
But the definition of truth is more for Plato the Greek than it is a cycling writer… or is it?
Not only did it allow me to examine the difference between some fantastic books (‘Ma verite [My truth] or Positively False anyone?) as well as the others that bend the truth on a much more subtle and calculating level, it also, while distracting myself for a moments respite looking at a social networking site made me think about the eternal debates about bikes and kit. Shimano or Campag, or Trek or Colnago?
We don’t see life in a linear fashion: instead everything we do or see is affected by the bearing of an enormous depth of previous experiences, emotions and feelings. In the same way that it is completely impossible to view a situation or a conversation entirely objectively, one cannot look at a bike with Campag and see the same things as the person next to them.
The facts of the situation would be: do the brakes stop the bike? Do the gears change? Does everything function efficiently?
At the top level all kit will function very similarly within these parameters of truth. So your choice will always have to be based on personal preference and not which is actually better.
Many people have now caught on to the fact that the professionals just ride what they are told, not what they want to ride, or what is necessarily the best, and this is true.
But in second-guessing, people are also missing a massive point. That bike equipment choice is, much like the truth itself, entirely subjective. So what watching those professionals ride, depending on how you look at the riders and if you are prepared to invest emotionally in them as idols, they will still influence your decision.
It is true though that Professionals have no say in what they ride, and likewise that when they ride a bad bike can they ever say anything about it.
I’m no longer a professional though, so here goes: The worst bike I rode was a Boardman with Dura Ace & Ritchey Wheels. The one I made go the fastest was Cannondale with Record. The one that broke the most was a Ridley with Ultegra. The one that got the most admiring glances was a DeRosa with Record, and my favorite was the RCS Condor with Dura Ace.And you are only racing when you are on tubs. Ain’t that the truth.
Thursday, 29 December 2011
There are a lot of things that go into making a good cyclist, but I strongly believe that first and foremost being a good cyclist comes down to one thing: constitution.
There are those that have it, and those that don’t. There is no real way of properly defining constitution, or indeed testing for it in a lab. Some of the most unlikely souls seem to be possessed of the most rugged constitutions, and there are plenty of dilletantes who think they should have it but who just don’t.
You can't create or replicate constitution any more than you can sprout wings and fly. It is something you either have or don’t, and it is apparent in all walks of life. Lou Reed had constitution, Keith Richards & Margaret Thatcher had constitution. Like them or not, they were people who could live off scant hours of sleep, and still work at an incredible rate, without making themselves ill.
To be a bike rider you have to have constitution simply so you don’t miss races by being sick or injured. These days science fights an ongoing and impressive battle with constitution. Riders only have to show a glimpse of talent at a young age before they can be supported by all sorts of practitioners and specialists who work so hard to make human bodies that keep failing, keep going.
Injuries and sickness are often tagged as bad luck, but being slow to recover, or being sick or injured in the first place, is often natures way of telling the human body that it is beyond its limitations.
However the fact remains, you will always have to have constitution to be a bike rider at the highest level. You will have to not injure easily, not get sick through periods of physical and mental exhaustion, and you will have to keep digging deeper and deeper into reserves that won’t deplete.
I was made up to find then, during some research, the palmares of this man: Benoit Faure´.
Not only was Faure´ 8th in the 1930 Tour de France while riding as a ‘Tourist-Routiere’ he was a professional cyclist for a remarkable twenty years, racing between 1925 to 1945. Conditions for cyclists in that era were unbelievably arduous compared to today’s standards (even without the world being at War for the last 5 years of his career).
How he managed to keep going for twenty years at that time is beyond me. Faure´ wasn’t a real winner, taking only 24 victories in 20 years, the most important of which being the Criterium International in 1941. But he must have had enough to keep slugging away.
All I can say judging from the few photos of him, the remarkable career length, and his 80 years on the planet, is that there was a man with a constitution, a man cut out to be a professional bike rider.