Monday, 31 October 2011

What do they know of cycling who only cycling know?

With apologies to CLR James; this post's title is a perversion of his much quoted observation about cricketers.

It seems that it's about this time of year that I lose my mojo, not just for cycling, but things in general. I blame early-onset S.A.D. Whereas other folk have got their routine and/or club allegiances to fall back on, I have neither. I like daily routine, but utterly dislike an annual routine - every year must be distinct in terms of memories. And I've never been a joiner, in the non-woodworking sense. I lasted about 3 months at cubs, 6 weeks in the Air Training Corps, and about two rides with Macclesfield Wheelers. It appals me that I've spent my 23 years at work with only two employers. Even now, I think the devil doesn't so much wear Prada, as ensure that our work intranet runs the original Soviet version of that newspaper a close second for mindbending propaganda. The point is, I have no out-of-season support mechanisms, admittedly by choice.

Which means that I get the athlete's equivalent of writer's block. However, if the road is blocked what do you do? Try a different direction or go backwards. So that's what I'm doing, in the sense of doing non-cycling/running/athletic things. Take the last week for example.  Working backwards, I:

- went to Camden Market for the first time since 1990;
- went to see Alice Cooper in concert at the Alexandra Palace;
- went to a civil partnership reception;
- took one of my children's cats to the emergency vets after it was run over;
- had a night out up Edgware Road in London with an old work pal, and ate in a Lebanese restaurant for the first time in God-knows-how-many years;
- started a piece of work that is genuinely interesting;
- reminded myself how much I like my wife and children;
- have said yes whenever anyone's asked me if I wanted a drink

And do you know what? It's been fun. Yes, even taking poor old Sinbad to the vets - mainly because I'd left the kids in Wolverhampton 15 mins earlier, and turned around and hurried back to help, dumping some work meetings in the process, which was very liberating. (Hasten to add I caught up with everything necessary later on, it was just good to get priorities right, which I haven't always).

The highlight though was Alice Cooper. The gig itself was great - all his classics, a couple of new songs which are good, he was of course decapitated by a guillotine mid-set, and there was a 12 feet tall zombie on stage for Feed My Frankenstein - but the highlight was the final encore, where AC sang backing vocals to Arthur Brown (of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown) doing his late-60s wonderful "Fire" - as in "I am the God of Hellfire, and I bring you...........etc"; whilst Arthur alternately sang with a fully-lit brazier on his head, pounced around the stage like an elderly panther, and break danced as only a 69 year old could. Bizarre and brilliant.

Anyway, the point is it feels good to do a few things I don't normally. Some of them I might not have done had I been in the middle of training for something. I'm hoping that it'll all help clear the fog in the next few weeks.

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