Don’t Ever Fade Away

April 25, 2015

Ian Curtis sure was a broody guy…great song though.
Feel it closing in,
Feel it closing in,
The fear of whom I call,
Every time I call
I feel it closing in,
I feel it closing in,
Day in, day out,
Day in, day out…I feel it closing in,
As patterns seem to form.
I feel it cold and warm.
The shadows start to fall.
I feel it closing in,
I feel it closing in,
Day in, day out,
Day in, day out…I’d have the world around,
To see just whatever happens,
Stood by the door alone,
And then it’s fade away,
I see you fade away.
Don’t ever fade away.
I need you here today.
Don’t ever fade away.
Don’t ever fade away…

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 as well. 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.

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 his best friend killed himself. Its something he wasn’t ever particularly good at, despite becoming 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

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

Oh the pain.

They sucked. But they were very rewarding.

They occurred under a broody and temperamentally cloudy sky. Our crew fighting fiercely into, or racing with as a loyal ally, a warm spring wind that had that touch of promise that warm springs winds have. It whispered a declaration of renewal, rebirth and of wonderful things to come, an esoteric and timeless secret of nature carried by the tide of sky, everywhere and always, yet only ever heard by the few able and willing to still the ceaseless and endless politico-socio-cultural-psycho static and to just be with it, there. In the heartbeat of that moment.

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 weren’t great. And, to be honest, I would prefer every ride as great in that way that transcends the simple physical experience cause its the soul of these things that is what makes any of it worth while.

What else matters but wander and wonder?


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?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 229 other followers