Thursday, 21 July 2016

Like an angel on a balcony (Cingles du Mont Ventoux)

OK. Cycling. In the heat of Provence. The sunshine, albeit windy. More hilltop villages and lavender fields than any self-respecting woolly liberal can shake a packet of goat's cheese at.  

Then there's Ventoux. The giant in my room for the last six months. Ever since we tilted our caps at it, full of holiday brio and Winter bravado, before the flus of January, and the earaches of Spring, both of which reduced my enthusiasm and form to shrunken olives of their former selves. Not to mention the four horsemen of the Brexopalypse.  

I know I made that word and metaphor up, and it doesn't quite work as a device, but I had to have some reference to it in here. By dressing it up as a fancy allegory it becomes a parody of my own enormous literary pretensions, and a clever way for alluding to the in-built topical tension in the context of the relationship between Monmarduman and me. It wasn't much of a tension to be honest, we spent much of the time just having a laugh, and riding our bikes. Mostly at the same time.  

But that day really was a "watershed day" for me, in the way that Land's End to JOG was. It's a step change when I realise I can go further or higher than I thought possible.  

Before last Friday I had huge doubts that I could do it. Through the day I had a few moments and arguments with myself, when I thought I was going to fail. It felt as though it was impossibly hard. But I did it. And I did it through mental will as much as anything. Of course I had years of cycling experience and fitness to draw upon. But you don't succeed or fail as a result of those things. You succeed or fail because of what is in your head.  

But doing things like cycling to the top of Mont Ventoux three times in a day is not crazy. In response to a crazy world it sometimes feels like the sanest thing in that world to do. After all, the perspective from there is vast. You're a mile above sea level. Sometimes you need to get to places the hard way to actually appreciate how easy things are and how endless the possibilities can be.