Sunday, 14 August 2011

Writing / mother up a ladder.

I write quite a bit these days for various projects, websites and publications. It’s great, I absolutely love it. The only problem that occurs is, just like when you start riding your bike for a living, I get less and less time to write things just for pleasure. This blog sadly falls into this overlooked category. I love this space because I can write whatever I want, as long as I consider it worth someone else reading.

Lately I’ve been writing more than ever. It’s like anything, the more you do it the better you get. My brain, that hadn’t yet turned flabby but certainly lacked a little definition after years of only having to activate the relevant motor neurons needed to push pedals, has probably never been in such good shape.

My cyclist’s routine has admittedly gone out of the window. I simply find it really hard to do two things well. Bike riding demands that you get up early, fresh and ready to push yourself, then that you spend your afternoons in a fuggy haze of fatigue. Writing wants the opposite of you, I sit down at my desk and lose all track of time, mealtimes pass by unchecked – an unthinkable concept for an athlete, and it is often late into the night that I finally decide that I’m not making any improvements to my arrangements of words.

They are not exactly mutually exclusive; in fact I find that cycling promotes neural activity. The trouble being that it is hard to train at present, as I keep having to stop every fifteen minutes to make a note of something on my iPhone. That is not in the training handbooks. But I know that I will forget that thought if I don’t get it down right there and then.

I have to admit writing is winning this tug of war for my concentration, in part due to the winding down of the racing season for us, and in part for the fact I am finally well underway with writing my book.

Writing a book has been something that I’ve never wanted to do, because it always seemed like an unfathomably enormous task, and it really is. However I do love doing it. The parameters of my working world are now so much smaller than they ever have been, no longer the open road but either my study or the room that I converted into a blackboard so I could see what I am thinking about (as well as transcribe all the handy sentences I create on my rides as soon as I get in the door).

It’s a great experience, if a little isolating. But then Isolation is the gift.

Anyway it’s nice to come back and have some time to write about whatever I want, and here it is:

I really dislike the way health and safety has gotten so out of control. I feel very strongly that individuals should take responsibility for themselves. There seems to be this weird climate of fear now that dictates you can’t even look at a photo of someone smoking, mention that you ride with headphones, or go out in black cycling kit without someone chastising you for endangering yourself. I don’t do all these things, nor do I recommend them, but I would like it to be my choice not to do them. It makes me feel human.

So it was cool the other day when I went to see my Mum’s student's textile show up in London. I hung around after the show to help take the stand down, and at some stage heard gasps and exclamations of horror coming from the group of hi-vis vest wearing students that were helping mum dismantle a scaffold. It turned out she had climbed a ladder all by herself (something I found out later, she was forced to take a course in before being allowed). The students simply couldn’t believe their lecturer, all 5ft 8 of her, was all the way up a stepladder on her own.

You would have thought she was teetering on a window ledge half way up a skyscraper.

Looking down from the top my mum just casually bollocked them all for making a fuss, saying “don’t be so bloody ridiculous, IT’S A LADDER”. I laughed; she had a point. My mum is very cool.

That’s all.