The University of Bristol Cycling Club are organising a couple of races this year. This is impressive – they are a transient organisation, reliant on three year memberships and a constantly changing comittee. It puts to shame many of the longer established clubs and certainly exposes the fickle and shallow smash-and-grab of many sponsored clubs who seem to focus entirely on cladding their members in castelli kit and riding other people’s races; taking lots and giving nothing.
Their first event was a 10 mile time trial on the U7b, or as it’s more affectionately known, ‘the graveyard’; le cimetière de rêves cassé. It wasn’t too windy or horrible today; there was a bit of cross tail action and some blustery showbusiness on the way out, but it did that typically testing thing where it seemed to affect the slower riders much more.
The results took a long time to arrive. It was as though prior to this moment at the Falfield Village Hall we were in a realm of religious certainty in terms of the meaning of time, epochs and ages. Then the results bringers were like Charles Lyell putting the wind up the Victorians with his tall tales of geological anomolies and how this might mean things took a lot longer that everyone thought; like 300 million years longer. At the beginning It looked like an efficient operation; there were a glut of times inked on the board as soon as I arrived back. However, from that point on we entered ‘student time’, a weird dimensional shift where time and space collapsed in on itself in a vortex of startling strangeness. i held a tantalising glimpse of the inchoate origins of the universe; primordial gravitational waves echoed around the village hall, a faraday cage of no mobile phone signal, no time, no place. The Hall became adrift in a sea of shadows, intermingling with the matter and materiality of the cosmos, waiting the arrival of something finite. Time warped and arced, and each gentle inquiry was met with a further ‘two minutes’, ‘it’s nearly wrapped up’, ‘only a further two minutes’, and as minutes became hours and hours became days i found myself meandering back, metaphysically, to my student days and the collapsing of time that happens when you have one lecture a day and a lot of imbibing to do. Times appeared on the board, were drawn through, redrawn, corrected, amended, moved forwards and backwards. After lingering in the death zone known as ‘we’ve waited this long so we may as well wait longer because otherwise all the other waiting will have been wasted waiting’, the elastic suddenly snapped and Tom and I escaped. He was the driver, and we achieved a centrifugal urgency. The dark matter of Falfield did something funny to his car, the boot wouldn’t open. The electrics had been fried by the twisting of interrelated spheres.
I later found out i came second by 8 seconds; but somehow it seems like the 8 seconds are unimportant. In a parallel universe I was 8 seconds quicker, moving backwards. it’s funny to think that Greg Lemond won the Tour by 8 seconds.
Tomorrow is the road race; i’ll be the one at the back, clinging on whenever the surges happen and cursing the people at the front for making it happen and fracturing the race into tiny shards of broken cyclist.