Sunday, 26 April 2015

I put it there with a magic marker

Today, (well technically yesterday since I am writing this at 12.16AM) I rode the White Horse Challenge for the sixth time in six years. For what it's worth it was my 4th fastest time of those six. Bearing in mind that for one I was a sportive novice (2010) and another (2013) I was recovering from the combined effects of harrowing grief and bronchitis, you can effectively say this was my worst performance. But is was also the worst weather, a strong, cold northerly wind for the second half, and paradoxically some of my climbing performances, including the timed one of Dragon Hill, were my best ever.

A third of the way through I was amazingly on track to break five hours, although I had ridden full gas for 100 minutes to get there. Then the combined effect of the wind, and fatigue from riding on my own because my so-called friends fucked off and left me after 10 minutes, meant I bombed in the second half.

Who knows if that would have been different had they stuck around? As for the reasons that brought it about, it's a kind of cycling moral relativism, born of shit communication, ambiguity, personal vanity and a complete disregard for the feelings of others. It is on my part anyway.

If you want to read a cycling description, I'm sure there will be one from The Cycling Mayor soon, or else look at my very amusing and entertaining blogs from year's gone by.

I am going to concentrate on the subject of my fury with my so-called friends. It's a very cleverly constructed piece of writing that lures you in to thinking I  occupy the moral high ground, whilst at the same time undermining my own argument and circling back round to an ambiguous conclusion at the end.


Psychologists sometimes posit that if you are angry with other people for a long time, that anger is actually a safer projection of your own lack of self-esteem onto others. For to truly face into your own faults is just too difficult and painful. Clearly in some cases, like today, that's drivel. Or in the case of my anger towards my father, 35 years ago, for his chaotic but functioning alcoholic lifestyle, that made me cross with him for 15 years. We all have addiction issues, he choose to channel them in a destructive way and I was right to be angry with him.

I don't bear grudges easily, I usually forget why I was annoyed, and having seen the Irish turn it into a national pastime, I feel there is little I can add to the oeuvre.

It's a basic moral truth of cycling that your friends communicate with you if they intend to drop you at the first opportunity in pursuit of their ambitions. Especially when those ambitions are in fact shared by a group which ostensibly purports to have a common bond of similar values and beliefs. Despite its mixed abilities.

Experiencing yet another episode of clearing up the mess my fourteen-year old son had made, I expressed my frustration and world-weariness of it all. He told me I was having a mid-life crisis, whereas I am just hacked off that he continues, despite prompting, training and moral blackmail, to create work for others. Clearly his fault. No it is. In any case I had my mid-life crisis in my thirties, and it included anti-depressants, self-harm and a lot of very expensive counselling. I am qualified to judge my own psychological history.

Anyway, I have got to the stage where I'm at my happiest when I'm being myself, and if people don't like that, I make allowances and try and be something else. Which generally makes me unhappy. Which is why I love certain people with whom I don't have to pretend, or even better, pussyfoot around their sensibilities and character flaws.

You know who you are.

I keep trying new things all the time, but in the end it will just come down to saying it as it is. Or as I see it. Which in the world of cycling moral relativism is the same thing as all moral viewpoints are conveniently valid and you can therefore consider yourself absolved. At a push.

When dealing with people, one of my colleagues argues that the Hokey-Cokey could very well be what it's all about (and I challenge you to watch this clip and not find it funny on at least three levels). But on this one single point, and nothing else, she is wrong. Dealing with people comes down to two things.

First, the unerring predictability of just about everybody. You just have to observe what they are really like over quite a short period. Especially me. Totally true to form and predictable reaction to a set of circumstances. And yes I am still cross. But I should really have seen it coming. It's like the Scorpion and the Frog. You have to accept people as they are.

Second, most people are completely unable to say what they really think, or else they are worried about how other people will react. This tends to lead to fudged e-mails, lots of text messages, assumptions that everybody knows the score. What's wrong with being assertive?

Yes I am cross, of course who wouldn't be? I should have asked the questions, insisted on a plan everyone knew about, especially me, because I have those skills, and should have predicted that level of (let's be charitable) single-mindedness.

I am most cross with myself for wasting my time on a ride I'm getting bored with, on a bunch of people who ran true to type but couldn't articulate clearly what they were going to do, when I could have predicted it, or clarified it in advance. More importantly, not being true to myself.

That doesn't mean I like you any less, or am going to stop giving you the benefit of my superior intelligence and insight, massive arrogance and inferior cycling ability. Or stop trying to keep up when I can be bothered. But I generally learn lessons quickly, and this one is now fully integrated within my moral compass.

And if you are sitting there nodding and agreeing then you have missed the point. You are not absolved. You will have to do that for yourselves in your  deluded moral relativist world.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Green of the Valley

Easter. Oh how I love it when the vernal equinox gives way to the full moon and the first Sunday after heralds the second and third Bank Holidays of the year.

I've been totally convinced about the complete absence of a God from the Universe for a number of years now, although as with all my opinions I reserve the right to change that view. Particularly at moments of extreme stress, like at the end of play-off finals or towards the end of long Audax rides. Bristol Rovers fans take note, you too may soon be calling on a higher power. What date is your play-off final anyway?

But I do like a four-day week. And I like two of them back-to-back even more, because they give opportunities for combining family stuff, and cycling. Now there is a Rapha "archive" store in Shepton Mallet I know there is one place I can take Mrs Mendip Rouleur and leave with us both happy. Although junior will have to be bribed, but that's parenting for you.

I'd like to say something witty, intelligent or profound about the election. But I just can't be bothered. Martyn and I were chatting about this on our date on Friday night (although I eventually spent the night in a room with my bike, not him) at the Travelodge in Tewkesbury. It's a lot less glamorous than it sounds. All those centuries of struggle to get us all the vote, and what do we end up with? And I know someone out there is thinking, "well, if you don't like that lot, why don't you stand and do better?" or "well, you get the politicians you deserve!" etc. etc. depressingly etc.

It makes me whimsically nostalgic for the good old days of Screaming Lord Sutch. If only the mythical Mr Tarquin Fim Tim Lim Bim Fatang Fatang Ole Biscuit Barrel was a real person. This sums it up.

All that aside, here are a few pictures from Saturday's Audax over to Llandovery and back. Thankfully no wild weather this weekend, just empty sky, rolling hills, and nice people again. Bit of a habit this! I wish I had taken a picture of the canal.  If politicians spent more time restoring places like this in a practical way, instead of endless and pointless point-scoring, then our communities might have a bit more respect for them.