The nature versus nurture debate. Do our bodies have everything at birth, or are we a blank slate which learns everything from experience? The reality is that it appears to be a sublte blend of both of these seemingly seperate ideologies.
We are both a generating and degenerating life-form. We grow and deteriorate, often simultaneously. Hair is dead cells. Whole cultures rise and fall in our bodies; sometimes one or two go full circle before breakfast. Bill Hicks used to talk of wiping whole civilisations off his chest with a grey gym sock.
We are an incredibly disposible life-form. We end up gently decaying in the ground, or melted down. At least in this instance we take more care of our bodies than our cars, which we are quite happy to leave rusting in so many locations.
There are so many parts of our bodies that are working away, not just as parts of a whole, but as entities, almost beings in their own right. They too are created, grow, learn, make mistakes, deteriorate and die, sometimes in their own right entirely seperately from our actual cells. I mean, you can wipe out vast tracts of brain cells just by watching say, a Police Academy film. Or what about that morning-after hangover you get from a serious night out. Is that down to your body soting out what made it through the night, assessing the damage, and reporting back with any difficulties?
Even at the cellular level we find all sorts of independant activity. I never wake up on a morning and decide that I’m going to get my cells to fight that throat infection. Of course they do it all on their own, part of your bodie’s untouchable conciousness.
Now addled with a useful combination of stimulants, the writer returns for another crack.
Let’s find the music , the music that will produce the appropriate rythmn for this next piece.
I hope for the reality where I can control this urge I have for writing, and do it properly.
Looking for the germ of a idea, the learning to fly, the sea, the revolution.
The freedom of the fast bike ride, the sensation and danger of even a fairly gentle off-road trip. Returning to the road trip.
I would venture out infrequently in relation to the amount of pleasure that a good ride brought me. The feeling of freedom, motion through soley your efforts, a satisfaction that the car could never bring. Being able to go virtually anywhere you chose. To be honest, it often wasn’t about the great outdoors, being at one with nature and all that sort of stuff. It was the battle. The war against me I loved. Fighting the unwilling body, the lazy mind, the dispirited soul. I felt that when I conquered all those elements, I could do anything.
The key to gears. I always used to attack climbs the wrong way. I would build up speed on the flat in my biggest gear, and then attack it. The bike would always slow, and quicker than I could change down, the pedals became huge blocks of stone for my feet to move.
Then one day someone explained how it worked. You get into a low gear at the foot of the climb. And stay with it. Churn and churn in that tiny gear. Your lungs burn and pierce your chest. You have to find the rythmn, stay on the one or you’ve lost it.
The ultimate skill in cycling is to change up on a climb. On a real climb, like Alpe D’Huze. Start the mountain with a group of climbers, the worlds best. Wait for the heat and the doubt to set in. Wait until the last of your opponents is about to break. They are all churning awaiting the noise they dread. That click of the gear-change, like a starting pistol, metal straining against metal. The true climber shoots away, leaving the others floundering in his wake.
The best I’ve ever seen this done was in the 1996 Tour, where Riis tortured his opponents for miles. A small group of about twenty riders were on the ascent of Alpe D’huez when he made his move. But this was no simple break-away. He left the group with devestating speed, then slowed up. It looked as if he had blown it, as he was caught and fell to the back of the pack. What he was doing though, was trying to break each and every one of them. He scanned each face as they passed him, looking for the fear. After a brief respite he launched himself off again. Three times he did this, each cause more opponents to drop off the lead group until finally, no-one had any spirit left. He left them all far behind and won the stage.