A thought to end the year with. I've been doing quite a lot of work with Bike magazine in the last few months and I found this short piece while I was doing some research. It was written by one of my favourite bike journalists, Rupert Paul (above). As the former editor of Performance Bikes (in its late-80s, early-90 cultural heyday), Rupert was instrumental in reinventing British bike mags. He also helped me get a job once and wrote about Mablethorpe beach races for Sideburn 3.
Anyway, I like this a lot (I retyped it, so if there are any mistakes, they're mine not his). G
It was the Buddha in one of his far from idle moments, who said that a meditation on death is the greatest meditation of all. Only when you are aware of how fragile and transient your time here is, can you truly and fully engage with life.
Riders love a risk or we'd live in jars packed with cotton wool. But are we that aware? Control freaks, more like. I love riding fast — don’t know anything else, really— and the kick comes from endlessly balancing skill against risk. But whenever I’ve crashed, the two or three seconds before show me who I really am - a very fragile, very mortal bag of skin, muscle and bone feeing deeply, deeply regretful. Thus, as the trajectory towards the car/ditch becomes obvious:
Myself (to imaginary omnipotent being): Could we start again, please?
Omnipotent being (in the guise of reality): Crunch.
Equally revealing is that, as soon as we feel able, we forget how scared we were and put on the bravado again. I once crashed in a busy street while carrying a giant thermos of tea in my rucksack - with the result that, as I got up, gushes of brown fluid splashed onto the floor. A small girl was horrified: ‘Oh look, mummy – blood!’ In seconds I went from total panic to laughing out loud as I explained.
The truth is, we kid ourselves that it’ll never happen. If we didn’t, we’d never get on a bike. RP