Sunday, 29 April 2012

Word Drought..

I was going to start by saying that you might have noticed that I've been rather quiet recently. But that's kind of presumptuous - specifically, it assumes that someone actually reads this stuff. But anyway, there are good reasons for that.

For one, I'm lazy. For two, I'm lazy. And for three, I seem to have run out of words.

I have a sort of theory that words are a bit like milk in cows. There are only so many of them per week or day or decade in any one person. Some folk have loads of them, tanker loads, others have less. Or fewer. Or whatever the right words are.

You could go on with the analogy and talk about grass and udders and milking machines I guess, but I'll leave that to you.

But mostly anyway, that's all an excuse or two. Really I don't have that much to say. It's not that I haven't been doing anything, I have. But I don't really have much to say about the things I might want to share and the things that I have stuff to say about, I don't really want to.

My friends will no doubt recall that I've been a bit of a nightmare for the past couple of years. They'll also have a fairly good idea why, which I'm sorry about. There's only so much brokenness and despair and incomprehension that you can expect people to put up with. I've lost, temporarily I hope, a couple of my best and closest mates.

So I decided to fix myself. Properly. And that's what I've been doing. With help. Sorting out the behavioural patterns that have been hardwired into me. Discovering ways of changing them, because I believe that people can and do change with time and life and effort. And you know what, it's brilliant and some of the things that help are deceptively simple.

As simple as focusing on the feel of your tyres running over rough tarmac or the sensation of wind on your face as you ride or even just your breathing.

And a lot of it's not that simple. You watch yourself in certain situations where before you'd have just reacted and start to understand what the pulls that make you act in a certain way are. And you can do that, but that doesn't stop those patterns being strong.

Even at a really basic level - this isn't really about riding bikes, not in the big sense - but out yesterday for a very hilly steady road ride, some tall fella in pretty team lycra with shaved legs breezed past me because I let him. A year or so back I'd have gone fierce and sparky-eyed, latched onto his wheel, then ripped past at the earliest chance in an utterly juvenile, pointlessly competitive way.

But I didn't. I didn't need to. I was on a steady ride at my own pace. So instead I just sat 50 yards back as he twiddled off, then realised in reality he wasn't very fast at all. After the initial, 'look at me with my buff shaven legs' spurt of speed, he was kind of rubbish. And even with four hours of hills in my legs, the frantic twiddling on a medium sort hill of told me everything I needed to know.

So I put in a bit of an effort. Closed the gap. Then ripped past at the bottom of the next climb in an utterly juvenile, pointlessly competitive way. But at least I knew what I was doing. And I chose to do it, not because I had to. Or needed to. But because I wanted to.

And he may have been at the end of a really long ride. Or having an off day. Or just been a bit rubbish. But if you're going to shave your legs, at least have the grace to be quick with it.

Small steps.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Out Of Time.

I dunno, you take a week off and the weather goes stark raving bananas. One minute it's summer, the next it's doing a passable imitation of the next Ice Age. And then today, an alpine spring arrives. Snow on the hills, melt water on the (Longdendale) trail and bright, warm, spring-like sunshine poured over everything like some sort of meteorological custard.

I'm at the tail-end of some tenacious death virus, so this was a proper, gentle, relaxed potter. Took the Double Cross and meandered down the trail talking to lambs - yay for spring lambs - and walkers and an inquisitive lurcher.

I even stopped to remove the bloody great rocks that brain-dead walkers used to pad out a couple of muddy sections of what ought to be and is again, smooth, fast, rooty singletrack. And I failed, once again, to clean a set of rock steps on the cross bike. Not so much the steps, more the run-out at the bottom.

Anyway. It was lovely. And sunny. And aimless. And the lurcher talked a lot of sense, for a dog.