Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Not About the Bike

'I was not yet 16 when I understood a great deal, from having ridden bicycles for so long, about style, speed, grace, purpose, value, form, integrity, health, humour, music, breathing and finally and perhaps best of all the relationship between the beginning and the end.' 

William Saroyan (1908-1981) (American-Armenian writer)

So the Tour de France is with us again.

(photograph by Ben Ingham, available for purchase here)

For some, they watch Le Tour for the landscape and to dream of a sojourn in the Loire.  For others, it is the chateaux, the neat little villages, the churches and the glimpse of an eccentric little stone fort perched on the top of a craggy rock.   

Others watch for the Lycra clad men and the crashes.   Others for the Australians or the Americans or the British or the Spaniards.     

Others love the strategies, tactics and drug scandals.   Others, like me, are endlessly fascinated by the business proposition that is the Tour.    They pay how much to sponsor the time trial clock?  Yes, but think of the millions who watch.  It must be an investment which pays surely.    

Whatever it is,  there is something for everyone. 

I have a husband who is a mad cyclist.  Not commuting cycling.  No.  Cycling that involves riding  for 4 hours to Frankston and back on a Saturday morning.    Cycling that involves reading cycling blogs.  Buying beautifully written cycling coffee table books and touchingly trying to persuade me to read them.

Cycling that involves only ever wearing black with touches of  white - all sourced from the UK business, Rapha, who sells just the very best, sleek, high quality cycling gear.  Including a pink stowaway jacket, which I rather love.  And some wonderful jersey tops, in plain colours.  No fluoro.  No skin tones.  Just 1950s styling using hi tech and pure fabrics.  

Oh okay, here are a couple more:

My point is that the things men love, even if they are sporty or cave-like, are often no different in their manifestation to the things we love. 

And well we may ask, standing, watching, or dreaming.  What are we doing here?   

Cycling is a metaphor for life.  I didn't think of that first, many have got there before me.    
And like all obsessions, you need a book collection to go with.   So, to kick off the Tour, buy a book.  Here are some of mine ours:

The only one in the pile above I would not recommend is the second Lance book (Every Second Counts) - it's just a bit boring and self indulgent.    But all the others, especially the Escape Artist, about a man obsessed with the ride who is forced to grow up when his wife becomes seriously ill, are wonderful.

So, enjoy.  On all levels.  

(Images (1) (2) (4) (6) (7) (8) (9) Rapha (3) Cycling Tips


Mise said...

As a young lady about town, I used to cycle everywhere. This included to dinner-parties, with a gift bottle of wine or two in a carrier bag. They always got trapped in the spokes and broke. So then I bought a basket, rolled up my sleeves, and became a Brideshead Revisited extra. Those were good, easy days.

And I always admire people with compelling enthusiasms. Let's all read your husband's bike books. We could form the Blogger Bikers' Wife Book Club.

JMW said...

I love my bike, which is more of hybrid road/mountain bike. I don't ride near as much as I should, though. I am fascinated with people who do the Tour de France - amazing.

Ange said...

I'll keep that cycle clothing address for my husband We're both avid cyclists but I gave up on the tour long before him. Too much hype and drugs in France. We're both too disappointed.
Hasn't stopped the love of cycling though ;-) LOVE those clothes!!

Ange said...

Oh - if your hubby ever buys the book on the Southern Alpes - tell him there's a great race each year that we did not so long ago. 125 km comprising the col d'Allos (where Beaker's grandmother lives) the Col de la Cayolle and the Col des Champs. It's a fun ride and Soooo pretty. A great reason to come and visit France.

The House That A-M Built said...

I used to cycle heaps when I worked as a Dietitian. I would ride my bike over hill and dale to get to the hospital I worked at, in the city. I would park my bike behind my office door as an example (to my patients) of incorporating incidental exercise into your daily life. The trucks got too big and scarey though..... a few close calls....I ended up catching the bus. Love bikes and 'The Tour'.
A-M xx

Laura said...

Oh I know that obsessive cycling thing well...my boyfriend is absolutely mad for it. And his birthday is coming up so you've given me some great ideas for gifts!

Tina said...

Ahh Jane!! Reading this, I could have been reading about my own life! I am married to a cyclist - yep not a commuting cyclist (although he does also cycle to work and back every day), but he rides hundreds of kilometres a week with the cycling club and races every weekend...So as you can imagine, our whole house stops for three weeks every July to soak in whatever aspect of Le Tour that each of us is attracted to:) I LOVED this post Jane! Hope you are having a wonderful week ~ Tina xx

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

hmmm, for me it's a lot about calf muscles! jx

obviouslyanon said...

Don't cycle myself but have always loved the TdF - for all the reasons you mentioned, spectacular scenery, enthusiastic onlookers, mountains and especially the arrival in Paris. Love it all.

Elsa May said...

Snap! My husband is also OBSESSED by cycling, and I mean cycling cycling. He's just competed in Race Across America, gives me daily updates on the Tour (thanks honey), and orders all his gear from Rapha (I love their gear - so stylish). Loved your post and the book list - perfect!

Related Posts with Thumbnails