perhaps in common with many of you, i am regarded as slightly the wrong side of not quite normal because i enjoy riding my bike. it's not specifically the act of riding that gives cause for concern; my editor receives regular praise for his daily travail of 22 miles to and from the office in pretty much all weathers, so it is possible to earn local respect as a cyclist. my transgressory approach seems to centre around the fact that i, in common with many across the country and, indeed, the world, take great pleasure in riding for the sheer joy of riding. that i might cover more than seventy kilometres in one sitting yet still appear with a smile on my face is regarded as deviant behaviour.
welcome to our world.
it is, of course possible to ameliorate this suspicion in the current climate of anti-obesity manoeuvres, for as most of us know, it would only take a grand helping of those 70 kilometres each and every day, and you too could look like bradley wiggins in the pyrenees in july. despite unlimited coffees and lashings of sticky buns. even the most circumspect of critics would feel stalled in the face of such dieting power coupled to unfettered face stuffing. cycling will do that.
the one aspect of pelotonic activity, however, that remains steadfastly beyond the pale when it comes to mass public acceptance, is that of riding up hills. steep hills (though steepness quotient is another one of those specifically subjective and relative terms). even the most reluctant of cyclists can find common ground when it comes to the joyous act of riding a bicycle downhill, but quite why anyone in their right mind would want to ride forever uphill when there was plainly no need so to do, smacks of some degree of mental deficiency. discount the acknowledged fact that all those euskatel supporters with their orange and green flags fill every available square centimetre of anything resembling even a modest uphill road in the pyrenees, accompanied by thousands of others come july. uphill simply does not compute with the average civilian.
so, if those who desire to ride everything that defies gravity to some degree are thought of as somewhat aberrant, what must be made of a man who not only spent some perfectly good time away from the telly, gathering one hundred climbs with which to fill a book, but rested not upon his publishing laurels and promptly nipped out to find one hundred more? one fears there must be something amiss in his diet, for 'tis surely less than upstanding and responsible behaviour?
yet that is exactly what simon warren has been and gone and done, resulting in a compact and bijou fully illustrated volume entitled another 100 greatest cycling climbs. as you might infer from the foregoing, simon warren (for it is he and his mental state under discussion) published 100 greatest cycling climbs in june of 2010, and apparently spent the intervening period endlessly searching for those filling this second book. what can doubtless be inferred from this state of affairs is that there are a substantial number of the pelotonese with either the skills, the tenacity or the aspiration to defy gravity aboard their bicycles, and preferably to box that all in the confines of 200 attempts.
it would be a pointless and thankless task for me to start listing the more excellent examples contained within; that's what the book's for. however, it is of note for those who fear (as i do), that they'll be lucky to attempt even a half-dozen of the climbs across two books, that there is more to this publishing lark than at first meets the eye. just past the introduction, where warren valiantly attempts to justify why he keeps riding up hills (appropriately entitled 'welcome back') is an intriguing little article on the obsession taken further. though it may come as little surprise in retrospect, simon warren is a long-time, classified weight-weenie, and has taken a page and a half to air his confessions. worth the purchase price alone.
this is not the book's only digression from a seemingly endless list of hills, for on page 92, mr warren lays bare the subject of pain and suffering related to the human capacity for same with a careful allusion to science fiction. climbing most of the hills within cannot realistically be described as an armchair experience. though he has not crossed the water to islay and experienced the 14% rise from port askaig ferry terminal, no doubt that will appear in yet another 100 greatest cycling climbs, quite probably in the throes of research even as we speak.
you know we want him to.
posted wednesday 25 april 2012.
posted tuesday 24 april 2012...........................................................................................................................................................................................................