I was meant to train this morning, but I didn't, because I felt real ill. I still do, so I'll have to keep this brief. It might have something to do with the post 4pm sushi I had yesterday, or it might be related to the mouldy water bottles I insist in drinking from.
Instead, I did a bit of reading. While I was doing that, I came across these words by Jean Bobet, a French professional cyclist during the fifties, speaking about the riding he he did with his brother (another professional cyclist) in their later years.
Speed was no longer in our repertoire. We took pleasure elsewhere: with less violence, and more subtlety. Occasionally, we would even chance to catch a scent or a snatch of the volupte of yesteryear. With the wind at our backs, the intoxication was such that we almost took ourselves for the Bobet brothers. When the wind turned, we were somebody else entirely.
Which got me thinking about the various games of fantasy we act out whilst on the bike. Being confident in a race is as much deluding yourself as to your form, as it is being fit and strong. Riding alone, or with a tail wind that we forget is there, it's very easy to con ourselves into thinking we are faster than we actually are. And this isn't something that ends as you get better either.
When I first started riding racing bikes, when I was about fifteen, pretty much every one would zip past me on the road, as I flailed about trying to go twenty kilometres an hour. Fast track some eight years later, and not much has changed. Sure, I'm a lot smoother, and a bit faster, but when the A graders pass me like I'm standing still, despite my honest exertions, its very much a case of having the wind taken from your sales.
Out training, you are the best bike rider in the world, until the faster bunch passes you, and leaves you literally eating their dirt. It's good to be reminded that you are nothing special, insofar as it stops you from becoming a dick, but at the same time, it's probably good to have these solo flights of fancy occasionally. Sometimes, it's good to find yourself in the dirt back roads of outer Epping, hands clenching the top of your bars, pretending you are Cancellara, about to win the Roubaix. Genuine love of riding aside, a lot of what I do on the bike is a simple acting out of sports fantasies that will likely never be realised (though I am still waiting on the call from Drapac...).
I could make various conclusions about the fact that the simple act of riding a bike is a great equaliser, whereby we can immediately see ourselves in the greater exploits of cycling's heroes, but I won't, because I think I'm about to go vomit.
Keeping on topic, here is Morbid Angel's 'Blessed are the Sick". The record of the same title this song comes from is fucking bona fide classic early 90s Florida death metal. If you're like Brendan, and not into that this stuff, you should change your ways.