the footage is great but they’d be nothing without the MUSIC… I’m tapping my foot as I type!
Posts Tagged ‘english’
We headed up to the ‘tradesman’ entrance where the flurry of smug faces with badges on chests that read ‘stall holder’ entered empty handed and exited with frames slung over shoulders. Each time I turn up to a cycle jumble – normally an hour or so before official opening and for reasons I still do not know – I can’t help but look on in absolute envy at these men who trade goods before the curtain goes up.
One morning, this morning, the early rise had paid off. As my partner and I stood, watching the line of items enter and exit the building like leaves carried by an army of ants, there was an opportune gap. The man who had been standing there, guarding the door had gone for his flask of tea. My girl, now standing beyond the golden threshold gestures at me to enter also, me, being a softy, I shake my head from side to side, she grabbed my hand and pulled me along behind her. I was in and it was 8.30am, not the 10am advertised on the flyer, and all thanks to the wife.
Did I manage to grab the vintage cycling bargain of the century? Nope, not really. I actually spent 50p. Right before we were escorted from the beige leisure centre and consequently shamed by the stern organiser, I managed to pick up one of my most treasured possessions today; A book, the 1979 published TI Raleigh story, 52 pages of printed wonder and all featuring the magnificently dominant TI Raleigh team of the 70s. My favourite. Now, having been read, and the pictures ogled it now sits proudly on my bookshelf.
I recently visited Tuscany for Le Coq Sportif’s L’Eroica and, while I was there to ride the race, I was mostly looking forward to the jumble. I wanted to see how the Italians do things and, well, it was mostly the same as here in the U.K but in another language, and outdoors, and hot, with more good stuff. I wandered around, a few paper Euros in my pocket, eyeing up Delta brakes, boxed gruppos and complete bikes dripping in Campagnolo but I found myself, after a few rounds, settling at one stall.
He had, as well as the obligatory sea of componentry, a large and fruitful selection of golden era magazines, badges, bunting, stickers, catalogues, mascots and postcards. Dandy. He wore an oil stained blue jumper, sleeves rolled up, with grey hair and chunky fingers and he chatted with his apple-eating friend. I leafed through a section of Pink Cyclisme cards. On the cover, Maertens, Thévenet, Poulidor, Hinault, to name but a few and all with penned signatures. I pick them up and enquired as to the price of said items. Then, after a lesson, shouted in Italian and pointed out with sausage fingers about the greatest cyclists of all time we agreed on €1 each. I bought ten.
I love a cycle jumble, me, I think they are great. All of that goodness under one roof, the hardware going for an asking price and not to the highest bidder, where you can handle the items and not just be reliant on jpegs on screens, the folks you meet have knowledge and enthusiasm dribbling off of their tongues and relish any opportunity to inform you of the origin of any item sat on their wooden wallpaper pasting table, you can slice their delight with a knife. It is also a social gathering where friends meet, you’ll most likely come across many unmanned stalls as Barry will be over there chatting with Pete. Unfortunately for me there won’t be one around these parts for a good few months as they only seem to spring up in the warmer months, but I suppose that leaves me with plenty of time to garner one of those ‘stall holder’ passes.
I just got back from a fishing trip in Snowdonia and while the car journey through the Welsh valleys was beautiful and at times spellbinding, I simply wanted to be on my bike because as Hemingway rightly wrote:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
18 hours later and after 800 miles in a car with 4 other men we finally arrived at our destination, France’s beautiful region of Haute-Savoie, merely a stones throw away from Switzerland’s Western border.
We located our campsite on the edge of lake Annecy and quickly set up our living quarters, because despite our total lack of sleep for the past day or so we were all very eager to get out on our bikes. No time for rest.
Problem. Whilst reversing a fully laden car out of it’s parking space, Hardy touched a car to the rear which in-turn managed to pull Joe’s rear wheel out of true, quite badly. No problem. A trip to LocationVélo on the west side of Annecy lake meant we could get the wheel repaired ready for tomorrow.
We now have 5 bikes between but only 4 complete sets of wheels. So, rather graciously, Hardy, still extremely tired after our mammoth drive offered to lend Joe his wheels for day one’s riding agenda – A climb of Col de la Forclaz. This would also be myself, Kieran and Joe’s re-uniting of this, the very steep and very tough 12km long Col de la Forclaz, our most favourite local col.
No sleep for over 24 hours had taken it’s toll on me. I had to stop half way up a 14% section of the climb, riding in the hot midday sun I was utterly spent. Physically and mentally drained I lay down on a grass verge at the side of the road, jersey fully unzipped and helmet strewn to the side. I needed to cool down, I felt unwell. Water down my throat and energy gels in my system I finished this leafy climb with the others and at the top we were rewarded traditionally with Beers, Coke and an unforgettable view of the lake.
We Descend the Forclaz and head around the west side of the lake to pick up Joe’s wheel. We chat with the proprietor a while, he talks of “clipping into the wind” and the descent of the Semnoz. We finish up and head back to camp to rest and more importantly to eat. Tonight’s meal will be well deserved.
My mind is on Tomorrow. To ascend Montagne du Semnoz via the Col de Leschaux up to Crét de Chatillon. This route had me shook. Last year I remember I struggled, I had consumed all my food and emptied all the contents of my Bidons into my mouth. I was hungry and thirsty and my shoes were made of Lead. Not again.
Eggs scrambled, bread toasted and coffee brewed we sat down and ate breakfast ready for our day ahead. Hardy and Army ( Adam ) had done a stellar job on the eggs. Cooked perfectly with parsley and bacon, these two boys have set us up and furthermore we now have a full team for today’s riding as Joe’s wheels are back, spinning straight and round. And then (as it was intended) there were five.
No bonkage this time but still not loving climbing this particular ascent, especially after Joe, Hardy and Army had dropped Kieran and I like banana skins on the road. They were gone and I was demoralised. Remind me, why do I do this? I ask myself as I solemnly climbed this baron, silent landscape. I could not answer but there was the Crét so I dug in and got up to be greeted by the happy, salty faces of four friends, a plate of Frites and a cold glass of Coke.
The best thing about the Crét de Chatillon is the descent, the climb is awful, I do not like the terrain but the descent, now that, I love. It starts open with beautiful vistas of Mont Blanc and the ranges out to the East and soon after you go over the highest point of the mountain pass, you immediately find yourself travelling at speeds of up to 60kmh through dense forest. The scenery changes quickly like a natural kaleidoscope of colours green, shadows hurtle past on the tarmac beneath as if one were stationary, my nose exhales breath of excitement and euphoria and in exchange inhales the smell of pine and cool mountain air, a perfect trade. Corners are banked, cars are sparse and apart from the odd mountain cow we are left to trickle down the side of La Semnoz, alone and for what seemed like an eternity. Wheels in motion, man and machine in perfect harmony with these alien surroundings. This place to me is like Heaven.
Fig rolls don’t go down, energy gels taste like shit and that night, Hardy’s Pasta Carbonara with Lemon was to my palette like what a gold medal is to a champion.
The sun rises behind us from over the mountains. It get’s warmer. Map unfolded, we plot a route East heading to the Col de la Croix Fry and Col des Aravis. We seem anxious, these mountains we have never seen and the lines on the map indicate some suffering at 2pm.
We leave Veyrier-du-lac and head up over the bump of a Col du Bluffy. Instantly to your right the precious view of Lac D’Annecy becomes obscured by the sight of La Tournette and Dent du Cruet. Covered in trees growing slanted on their sides these two brother hills have chalky peaks piercing their green coats like shark fins through water. We continue forward, pushing on pedals up the D909 to Thonês and Manigod and begin our long ascent up the Col de la Croix-Fry.
Despite the sun on the back of my neck my cap remains forward, visor directed towards the ground so I can’t see too far ahead. I see what looks like my cat Banton playing in the grass to my right , my concentration is broken and I feel the pain in my legs again, I ask myself the question. Finally I arrive at the top where I join my friends in eating our previously made sandwiches containing a fine slice of jambon and grated Comté fromage. I am getting cold, sitting here in sweat sodden layers, I remove my jersey and put it out to dry next to our table. Eating has made me feel better especially being as it wasn’t another fig roll. We check the map, refill our bidons at the restaurant and get moving towards the Col des Aravis.
After a short decent we meet the base of the Aravis. Stowaways go folded back into jersey pockets and it’s down to business, but business it was not as we had done all of the hard work on the previous climb. Just a few grassy hairpins with white peaks high to my left and to my right and we had bagged another.
I attempt to stretch my legs, cramp. We keep going, dissapearing off the horizon into the valley, one by one we traverse down the mountain into the gorge below. It flattens out a little and I pull over. There are walls of rock cascading up into the sky either side of us and down to my right in the ravine I see the clearest water flowing around massive diagonal shards of slate that look like they had been dropped there just seconds before. I don’t know where I am but right now I don’t care.
What followed was some of the most exhillirating riding I have ever encountered, the Gorges de L’Arondine, the D909 Southbound is otherworldly, like that of a computer game. Space invaders or Mario Kart. Cornering. I hear the sound of running water above and below. A waterfall, we are inside it, yet dry. Magnificent. I have helium in my tyres. Beside me is Adam, behind is Joe, Kieran and Hardy and together we descent slightly, riding maximum to the mouth of the ravine towards Ugine, faverge, Doussard, Talloires and finally Menthon saint-Bernard and home to Veyrier-du-lac.
Tired and wired I go into the lake for the first time to soothe my legs. Tonight we pay for dinner and I’m having the Steak Haché. Kieran forgot his comb, he uses a fork and we realise our camp is a mess. Tomorrow we must clean up, before we drive South to the Giant.
To be continued.
Such an amazing time had by all, I can recommend this region to everyone interested in riding on the continent, it’s quite a journey but so, so worth it.
More photographs and my account of climbing the beastly Galibier up soon.
Or not to renovate? That is the question.
You see, my bicycle, lovely as it is, just doesn’t have the lustre it had 34 years ago when it was wheeled out of the Ilkeston cycle works. The blemishes it has dotted all over it mar it’s appeal to some degree and it is for that very reason I have this mental tussle.
But why would you want to paint out all of that history? Sure it has a few scratches here and there but those scratches allude to it’s racing career and it’s time before me and to paint it would seem like I would be erasing it all. Like the hypnotist in the 2003 film Oldboy removing Dae-Su’s memory for the better. Or is it actually for the better? A friend recently said it would be “like buying the Mona Lisa and having her smile adjusted because you liked it better that way”.
That said, the owner of the previously mentioned Mona Lisa painting would be the owner so that individual could do with that paining as they saw fit. Right?
Wrong. A part of me believes that something of history, a classic item ( so long as it is not completely and utterly in need of renovation with blemishes that are of detriment to itself ) should not be tampered with and the possessor of such an item has somewhat of a responsibility of ensuring this. If not for the sake of him/herself then for the sake of the future because once that original paint and original decals are removed, they are gone, for eternity.
But then would a renovation not become part of the frame’s history in itself or would it devalue the item in another 34 years when it is discovered that the frame’s enamel jacket is less like a tube television and more like 30″ plasma screen? In viewing terms the tube worked just fine, showed TV programs, videos no problem but now we need plasma because it ‘looks’ better.
I think if I were to paint my 1976 Raleigh track frame ( SB numbered 969 ) I would completely regret it. It would ‘look’ better, I know it would but I would feel like I have wronged the earth in some way, like I had just removed a facet of it’s workings. I would also ( knowing my love for tradition ) grow to dislike the bicycle and end up selling it. This because in my eyes without it’s o.g jacket it would just be like most other resprayed professional racing frames out there: Void of any sort of credibilty of racing history or heritage.
And is racing history and heritage not the very reason we all love these classic, vintage bicycles in the first place?
Indeed it is and for that reason my bicycle, as it stands gets to live another day in it’s original condition. So like the very 19th century wooden framed windows that I peer out of on this cloudy day, history remains.
Spotted on my RSS reader this morning was a great write up from Mr Chow of Mash’s recent epic journey of the Tour of California. Brilliant, go read it.
“I Miss My Roadbike” –While it’s debatable the need of Campagnolo’s addition of an eleventh speed, 1 gear can (sometimes) leave a person in want of (just a little) more. A ‘1′ here represents, “The legs, body, mind and soul are in accord; all things are operating perfectly and are in concert with one another, the universe and my bike –the track bike is a marvelous machine and I am its master.” While, a ‘10′ represents, “I swear off all single-digit integers and things containing, made with, representative of, or otherwise related to anything with a singular unit of measure –single speeds, a singular-vision to finish the Tour of California on a track bike, etc.”