A Nod From a God

June 11, 2014

After we finished, the guys disappeared to find their families in the crush of people at the staging area, and I was calling my mom, who was out there floating around somewhere too. I left her a message and found my way into the mess hall where I grabbed some food and a Coke, taking it outside to wait.

I remember sitting on this bench at this picnic table. I felt wasted but euphoric, the same way you always feel after riding at your limit like that. I know from seeing the mirror in this state that my eyes were bloodshot, face streaked with grit and sweat, and that my hair was matted down, a bird’s nest, from the helmet.

I remember looking down at my feet, and seeing the stark line on my ankles from where I had peeled my socks off to put some sandals on. I remember seeing my legs and feeling good about the fitness that I saw in them, noticing hard-working veins flushing gunk back to the heart for processing. I noticed that they too were spattered in road grit and bugs.

And as I was sitting there thinking all this, enjoying the sugar of this chilled Coke and kind of feeling like a ‘real’ cyclist, I looked up and, no word of a lie, there’s Eddy Fucking Mercxk walking 3 feet by me. He’s showered and changed and also drinking a Coke. He has black hair shot through with grey, he is slim, around 60 years old now and still looks pretty intimidating and more than a little intense.

Our eyes meet and he glances down at my bare, bone white feet which are incongruously attached there at the end of my mid-summer-tanned ankles. He scans my legs, lifts his eyes back up and makes eye contact again. Then he nods at me. A slight, acknowledging tilt of the head. I’m sort of in awe but I slowly nod back and as I do there’s a ghost of a smile on the face of The God of Cycling as he continues on his way.


AB Bike Racing, What Goes On?

May 27, 2014

In the words of Chuck-D, “What goes on?”

Glad I opted not to go out to PL after hearing about all the crashes. Scary stuff. STARS air ambulance, the works. Hope that everyone impacted heals up fast and is back on their roll soon, with no more than just a bit of road rash scars to remember it with. Also hope someone figures out a way to make the racing safer. Learn to race clinics sounds like a good start, but what do you do when it might be more of a learn to think situation? There’s a problem, that’s for sure.

This here’s the anthem for picking yourself up – or for road riding in general.

Hard, just like that.

Oh, hai.

May 23, 2014


Man, I’m behind on this labour of love, here. When you write 9-5, then sometimes on evenings and weekends, it can be tough to keep the enthusiasm to do regular blog updates that aren’t just pics, Tumblr style. Lately I’ve just been putting stuff up on Instagram. If you wanna follow me there it’s searcher_rosie on that site.

I’ll attempt to bring my bloggity up to date, mostly for my own sense of fulfilment. So what will come next is a rapid fire series to recap a trip to spectate at CX Worlds, then some riding down in and around Spokane and Idaho with my pal J-Mass aka A Gentleman Racer, which is a great earlier season destination for the winter weary Albertan – and the fit British Columbian, in the case of my pal. Following that I was down in San Francisco for a week with a 40th b-day in Santa Cruz on the way.

No racing so far, aside from the Thursday night track series here in town. It’s going well. Guess it’s what I’m built for, almost purely sprint efforts and no hills! I thought I’d get my ass handed to me racing in the B group but I’ve been right in the thick of it and it’s become a competitive field – if it would just stop raining us out. But that’s June in Calgary, a full on rain fest. My plan is to keep riding, keep racing the track, and keep my powder dry for the Banff Crit on June 15. That said, I’m taking a fully different approach to riding this year. I’d like to move up a category, and need 8-9 points to do that, but I’m racing only when/if I feel like it, and using the season to just ride, enjoy the experience, and try to build up to being a bit more serious about ‘cross. ‘Cause lets face it – that’s the only thing that matters, right?

The rain and the sea and the hours.

April 26, 2014

Bernard Sumner stumbled into singing when a friend of his killed himself and it’s something he wasn’t ever particularly good at, despite being the iconic voice of New Order.

While he does a pretty good job singing this, its not his voice actually sounding more songlike for once that I appreciate most in this song.

What gets me is this beautiful sentiment out of Sumner that you’d never, ever get from Ian Curtis. Could anyone see Joy Division doing a song like this? Not a chance. Yet, of course, it is kissed with that haunting legacy of Joy Division hiding out underneath it all. There’s a great juxtaposition between those two things, here. The contrast of Sumner’s emotion against the minimalist backdrop the band provides, still true to their DNA as the band that was that other, less happier band once upon a time.

The Village is a wonderful surprise and I think this is the song that Sumner probably actually sang best. At the onset, it’s a surprisingly optimistic, organic, and warm song for a group that really was at the forefront of minimalist electronic music and pioneering those kinds of cold, tin-like, sounds.

With The Village you’ve got the natural world overlapping with all kinds of sentiment about love and emotion. If you’re a transcendentalist or romanticist you’d know that these things are, of course, forever entwined. It’s a good ride, with a twist. The punch in this song is that all that bright and romantic set up is only there to be stripped away by the last two stanzas. The ghost of Ian Curtis, I assume, skulking in, black and nihilist and poo-pooing on all that warm fuzzy stuff.

When a new life turns towards you
And the night becomes a day
We shall remain forever
Everyone who meets his way
Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain and the sea and the hours
Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain and the sea and the hours 

When the rain falls to the sea
They’ll be waiting for you and for me
And the sky reflects our image
Trying to sleep right through our lives

Oh, our love is like the earth
The sun and the trees and the birth
Oh, our love is like the earth
The sun and the trees and the birth

I am still here two days later
Same place, same time
And I’m stuck here two years too long
Same place, the wrong time

Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain and the sea and the hours
Oh, our love is like the flowers
The sun and the sea and the hours

Their love died three years ago
Spoken words I cannot show

Ode to a bike ride that took place one night in early April, 2014.

April 12, 2014

Did some brutal Functional Threshold to Maximum Aerobic Power intervals tonight, 5 of them, 30 seconds on and 2.5 minutes off.

They occurred under a broody and temperamentally cloudy sky, our crew fighting fiercely into, or racing with as loyal ally, a warm spring wind that whispered a declaration of renewal, rebirth and of wonderful things to come, a secret of timelessness carried by that tide of sky but shared only with the few able and willing to forget themselves for that heartbeat and instead to hear it above the ceaseless and endless politico-socio-cultural-psycho static and just be with it, and THAT, I promise you, was a part of the bicycling today that was very, very good and goosebump inducing even if the intervals themselves were a bit ‘meh’, which is actually, and always, to be honest, just fine with me because this guy is all about the experience and the SOUL of things, so, yeah, friends, lets get up out of the saddle, jam it into that next corner, arc up that turning rise over there, and then all the way, til we die, to that mysterious twinkling light on the horizon, ’cause what is that anyway?, and what else is there anyway?, really?, but wander and wonder, and without those two things nothing else will ever mean or matter anything. Time to jam.



The heart of a great mystery…

March 4, 2014

I found this book, Bone Games, by this guy Rob Schultheis. He’s a climber, wanderer, vagabond, nomad kind of fella. He was a war journalist during the first Gulf Way and very likely saw some pretty heavy shit. I stumbled across his book through a blog I read, where it was quoted. The rest of the title is “Extreme Sports, Shamanism, Zen, and the Search for Transcendence.”

That should give you an idea of what the book is about. It opens with the author conveying an anecdote of a near fatal climbing fall, one of those instances where he came out of it in one piece but if fate had decreed he was but an inch in any direction he surely would’ve died horribly, bouncing off the limestone of a 60 degree slope for a few thousand feet. He relates how he was forced to climb, without gear, through brutally loose and chossy rock from a small ledge. He describes finding himself in a state of impossible focus, his movement perfect and sublime, his mind clear, at peace, and utterly empty of thought. This heightened physical state is accompanied by a similarly unreal mental state. He exists in this state for nearly six hours, saving his own life by accomplishing the unfathomable. And as he does it, a passenger in his own body, he calmly bears witness to every infinite detail, his mind cataloging the porousness and grain-texture of the several thousand rocks his hands touch as he descends to salvation.

So, of course, he spends the rest of his life trying to find that state. Whatever it is.

His book asks this, but pushes the conversation beyond merely documenting a mental phenomenon that would probably be explained through heightened brain chemistry, neurological wiring, or ‘flight or flight’ shots of adrenaline if you were someone with a conviction for the mundane. Schultheis links to Tibet and beyond, relating elements of spirituality to this elusive state as he attempts to bring it about intentionally.  Satori, Mushin. Whatever you want to call it. Anecdotes can easily be found merely by searching. Martial artists describe it. Runners feel it. I’ve even heard reference to professional tennis players mentioning something like it. What is that? Why is that there? Perhaps the fact that some of us willingly expose ourselves to dangerous situations could be suggested as evidence to hint at it’s reality. Why else would we do these things? Climb, surf, BASE jump, glide, explore. Is there some innate yearning to find that unfindable thing, once known, but since cut off? Perhaps.

More than anything in his book, I was floored by a paragraph. His description of a behaviour and a sense that I have absolutely personally felt, at times, since I was fifteen years old. Every time I’ve had this feeling I’ve literally thought to myself that I was just a fraction away from awakening to something. Like a fish a millimetre below the surface of the water, knowing, somehow, that another reality exists just beyond reach and comprehension. I couldn’t believe that he had described this very thing that I had thought simply just a unique flight of fancy conjured up only in my own fertile imagination, way back when. As an adult every experience of this sense would remind me of it’s discovery when I was a kid. I know the feeling he describes well.

“The mountains smell sweet and wild, an incense compounded of wet stone, wet amber brush, wet moss, humus, generations of pine needles…and almost unbearable lovely smell; despite the cold I pull open the window to catch it all. The rain hisses down into the black heart of a great mystery that I am on the verge of discovering. Any moment now, I am sure, it will drift in on the mountain rain, into my life. Only it never ever quite arrives.”

That’s the feeling. I’m going to track down Mr. Shulthesis and at least let him know that I, too, have felt this brush of ‘more’, whatever it is. He even compares himself to yamabushi a sentence later. This is a term that tells me, directly, that this paragraph was unequivocally tucked away there, in that book, specifically for me to find and heed. As crazy as that sounds. So how am I supposed to just troop around normal life after finding something like that?

The National and our Rosie Minded Fuzz.

November 26, 2013

This is a great song by a great band. Matt Beringer’s velvety smooth vocals are like drinking a pint of Guinness with your ears. It’s got a perfect cadence for running but it’s also really nice to just listen to. The crooning smoothness lulls you into thinking it’s a super chill, lie on the couch track, but the tempo makes you do this aural double take, where you’re like, “hey wait a second…”

This video is great. I love the classy and unpretentious aesthetic; these are the people you’d want to be friends with. It’s music with storytelling. The filtered sound when the band first comes on over the din of conversation, people taking notice, getting up and participating, and the wonderful bit at 2:30 with the red shoes (and calves!) that are the catalyst that instigate the life, vitality, and what becomes the overall message of the piece.

To me the video, and song, speaks to what 30-something (or 40-something) is. People chatting. There’s kids. It’s nice. But its just nice. It’s a little passive. The lyrics are about hiding out, cocooning, slowing down. “Tired and wired, we ruin too easy.” But Red Shoes changes it. Red Shoes rolls out, shakes it, and reminds us all that life is to be actively experienced. The dude at 2:38 is thinking, “Yeah. Dancing. I used to do that. Man. That was good. That felt right. Wait a sec…I can still do that. I’m so doing that.” And he does. They all do.

I love that the couple grabs hands just as the lyric says, “so worry not, all things are well, we’ll be alright” and the guy lifting the baby just after pushes it home, conveying just how alright it is. This shows us there’s room for all things. That the new life is not necessarily the death of the old one. Go ahead, cocoon, nest, stay inside that ‘rosie minded fuzz’, but don’t forget to step out and dance every now and then ’cause that’s super important too. It makes me think of the couples I know that have kids and then, a week later, are back out at bike races and 10-k fun runs with this little human in tow, a little human that’s going to grow up into an interesting and engaging world. I can’t speak of these things first hand but I know that’s what I’d shoot for if that happens. A kid reared not just by parents but by the experiences of life itself. The world, curated by a guide, is a capable and wise teacher.

Maybe that’s a lot to pull out of a four minute song, but that’s art, people. That’s supposed to happen.


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