Time Off the Bike

The talk went well – there were lots of people and I’m fairly sure that at least two of them weren’t either friends or family. It was a tough gig – the first bit of talking I’ve done about this book, and the book isn’t out yet. I was really grateful that people came along, listened, and then asked questions. Sometimes people ask questions and you know the answer. This is most gratifying because you feel like you actually are an expert.

Prior to my talk, Jack Thurston did some Lost Lanes stuff. It was full of super images and made me want to go and bivvy out on a micro-adventure somewhere on a hill in Somerset. The book – Lost Lanes West, but any of the three will do – is absolutely great.

And on to time-off – I went out riding in the rain the other day and came a cropper on West Harptree. It’s a stinky descent and the surface was really wet and greasy. My tyres were old and a bit slippery, which was fine in all the beautiful weather we’ve been having, but not when there is a thin film of moisture and diesel oil. The front wheel went out and I went down like a sack of potatoes. It was as hard as I’ve crashed for a very long time. I slid down the road on my side, taking the skin off my hip, elbow and knee. I did some damage to my shoulder – soft tissue damage and some very minor ligament thing that has initials but isn’t anywhere near as bad as some other chums have experienced lately. It seemed to twist something and it runs down my arm.

Since then, I have been mostly sticking to things – trousers and bed sheets – and posting up epic instagram pictures of my injuries, trying to make them look as bad as possible. I have received lots of sympathy, mostly along the lines of, “Why were you on Harptree in the wet?”, “Forgot how to descend have we?”, and some troubling comments about my chins due to the unflattering angle of one of the pics.

You live and learn. I have learnt that hydrocolloid dressings are really really good. Thank you James for the recommendation.

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Thisi is my sling. This is my PED bag. It is where I keep my PEDs.
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These are my elbow wounds. And these are my chins. I have many chins. 
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This is my super sticky leg hole. 
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This is Anthony pissing in the wind. 

I would like it noted that after my crash I rode the 13 miles home.

LIKE A PRO.

Alf: preview Saturday at 3pm, Bristol

I’m doing a talk all about the new Alf book. It’ll be at 3pm as part of the Pedal festival.

I’m going to talk about the strange process of writing a book about another person. I’ll also touch on some of the stuff I couldn’t include in the book for various reasons.

It’ll be about time, social change, bike racing, but mostly Alf Engers.

Free tickets here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/i-like-alf-book-preview-at-pedal-tickets-47518483062?aff=ebapi#tickets

I Like Alf: 26 September

Fantastic news; we have a publication and launch date.

It’s been a bit of a journey, involving lots of interviews with Alf along with all the usual stuff that goes into writing a book.

On Wednesday 26 September there will be a launch party at Look Mum No Hands! in London. It’ll take the format of a loose question and answer with Alf Engers, a bit of a spiel from me and a chance to buy copies of the book and get them signed.

You can get free tickets for the launch here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/i-like-alf-book-launch-with-paul-jones-and-alf-engers-tickets-48234262979

In the interim, there is the chance to meet Alf at the National “25” Championships in Liphook, on Sunday 5 August. Alf will be guest of honour and presenting the prizes. There will be a commemorative set of 4 postcards and some stickers available to buy on the day (at very low prices, simply to cover production costs), and the opportunity to get these signed, not only by Alf but also by Marcin, Dan Bigham and others. The race HQ is Bohunt School. You’ll also be able to pre-order the book and if lucky, pre-order one of the ultra-rare drillium editions. (note: the pages are not drilled, it comes in a beautiful, hand milled hardcase).

https://goo.gl/maps/7ShRdfMULh52

On Saturday 18 August at 3pm I’ll be giving a preview of the book, reading some sections and playing unreleased audio from interviews, along with unseen images. This is happening as part of the Bristol Ride Culture festival, organised by Forever Pedalling and in conjuntion with Spoke and Stringer. I’ll also have copies of the hill climb book and postcards/stickers for sale and will take pre-orders for the drillium (subject to availability) and standard editions.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/i-like-alf-book-preview-at-pedal-tickets-47518483062

Pavé, Dekenkolb, Jörg

Yesterday’s stage delivered everything that I’d hoped it would and more. It also gave the armchair expertmen plenty of hot air to emit in the mistaken belief that people were listening and cared about what they had to say (blah blah not fair blah GC blah) and have yet to fully understand the phrase “that’s bike racing”. They share pictures of Hoogerland juxtaposed with Neymar and yet moan ceaselessly when it actually happens in a real race.

At times it felt like a film, some fictional variant of what cycling should look like according to our endlessly mythical and epic dreams. I don’t think that’s because of Jorgen Leth, more because it had so many narrative arcs and twists that it functioned on a purely narrative level. If I was being a compete numbskull I’d probably try and map it onto Propp’s morphology and chart the transition from equilibrium to disequilibrium and back again.

It had tons of crashes. It was the crashiest race I’ve seen since every cat 4 race at Odd Down. There was something more baroque and awe inspiring though in the sight of adept bike-handlers being brought to heel by carefully placed cobbles. It made for incredible pictures. screenshot_20180715-212645

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I’m certain someone somewhere on the internet is busy trying to articulate how the bottom one is a renaissance painting, either that angrily mouthing off about how it was an awful business, using a crude portmanteau swear word like “cockwomble” in the hope that they will go up a level on the tweets, rather than just spew out the same hackneyed, unoriginal content as everyone else. The other day someone tweeted something horrible at Jonathan Edwards consisting of another tedious swear word splice. You may not like his commentary, but is that really acceptable? It’s men, of course it’s men, dishing out this year 9 oppobrium, one step across from calling everything “gay” at the back of Mr Engers’ history class.

The ending of the race was as good as it gets. John Degenkolb’s chances have been written off since he suffered a brutal accident in 2016, wiped out by a car whilst training. The narrative represented a gleaming victory for hope and determination from one of the nicest chaps in the peloton. There are two clips doing the rounds. The first one shows the immediate aftermath, whilst riding back to the bus. He is congratulated in the warmest terms by Cavendish and then his dad. The second is his post race interview. I had a wobbly lower lip for both. I think it must be the high pollen count. I was cooking tea and cutting onions.

I think Degenkolb is my new favourite cyclist.

 

 

 

Sporting Cyclist

I’ve been wading through various back issues of Sporting Cyclist, one of Jock Wadley’s magazines from the 1950s onwards. As ever, when researching, I end up getting sidetracked by almost everything else and not finding the elusive thing I’m looking for.

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Coppi and Bartali out shootin’
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TdF Chrono goes RTTC village hall

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Brassknocker in the Lewis GP, 1959
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Eileen, Beryl, Millie
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Brian Robinson
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Dave Keeler End to End record attempt
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Eagle of Toledo
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Elliott, Robinson, Brittain, Coe

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Interstellar Overdrive

After last week’s shenanigans involving getting my bongo weapon out in the balmy sunshine and showing it off to all and sundry, this week has been more sedate. There is much talk of the Hollyoaks Late storyline, suffice to see it seems to involve wanton abuse of random animals and a cast of North Africans. One day it’ll be dramatised, featuring Hugh Grant as Joe Hollyoaks and Ben Whishaw as a hapless puppy, down on his luck and down on all fours.

It has been an amazing run of weather, so I’ve been out and about commuting and general riding through the sunny mornings and close evenings. The ride to work is hilly. It makes a perfect hour long training ride, three times a week. But it is tiring. This veteran status isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, recovery times get longer and  weight loss is much harder.

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I have been enjoying the Giro. My mum loves the cycling, that she does. Today I carefully managed to manipulate naptime of a sleeping child, then had two screens running simulataneously, one showing ‘UK Freight Trains at Speed’ and the other showing the Giro Time Trial. With this elaborate set-up I managed to catch 3 hours of the race. My mum came in during the last, pivotal three minutes.

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Granny Hath Arrived

“What’s this?”

The Giro.

Who won yesterday?

No-one won yesterday.

Why didn’t they win yesterday?

It was a rest day.

Why is he in pink?

It’s the pink jersey. It’s like the yellow, jersey, but pink.

So why is it pink? Why isn’t it yellow?

Because they have pink instead of yellow. Like in yorkshire, where it’s blue instead of pink, or Spain where it’s red instead of blue, but pink in Italy.

So this is a hill climb is it?

No.

Oh it’s not a hill climb. (Yates crosses the line) So he’s beaten all the riders?

No he came 22nd. 

But he’s winning the race?

Yes. 

But he came 22nd? And he’s beaten all the other riders? So he’s won the race?

No

It’s like watching Interstellar, being utterly engrossed for three hours and and just prior to the final head-bending elliptical loop of space where everything is resolved in comes Granny to ask why that man is touching a bookshelf  in  space with weird strings and making dust and the world is curved and his daughter is older than his granny and old people are talking about dust-storms and you have to explain it whilst also giving a primer in quantum theory and the nature of time and space and a traditional narrative arc.

Granny did bring an excellent bit of signage though which I have put up on the wall. I don’t think Belle will notice. However, she might accidentally end up in the garden when needing a wee.

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Suddenly I’m lurching off to the right. I can’t work out why.

Lastly, my new shoes have arrived. That’s another tale for another day.

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