Sunday, April 20, 2008
Analog Beast. Digital Sword.
Back in the days when the wind blew harder, cold was colder, and the sun breathed fire, my imagination boiled over with the taste of the livestock poisoned mud of Paris-Roubaix, the wailing winds of the Ronde, and Lombardy's somber rains. This acidic landscape served as the savage backdrop to countless hostile encounters with the phantoms of cycling in worlds far removed from where I existed.
Upon my bike, I was either chasing, or being chased. Punishing, or being punished. Winning, or fighting like mad for a wheel. Epic battles took place in my head. I was combating world renowned beasts such as Kelly, Museeuw, Vanderaerden, and Plankaert. Battles were always a tooth and nail struggle for skin-of-your-teeth supremacy.
Sometimes my foes would escape. I hadn't the heart to fight the angry winds of Fermilab that day. Sometimes I didn't possess enough strength to repel the attack of a 600 meter sprint. The bridge of 355 had grown too tall. Mostly though, I dispatched my nemeses in epic duels of grim fortitude and pure heart. In such cases I would grimace a sly victory scowl to the invisible cameras and throngs of fans.
I owe these cherished analog visions to World Cycling Videos and the voices of Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen. The doors that they opened in my mind were an incalculable force that worked upon my impressionable psyche. They were my only real connection with a world that may as well have been a fairy tale in some long forgotten land.
In those days we read about the spring classics in June, the Giro in July, and the Worlds in December. History was passed off as breaking news in dog-eared Velonews and Winning magazines. The immediacy of todays electronic world was merely the realm of science fiction movies and undreamt dreams. Cycling News, CyclingTV, Pez, bloggers...it's all a madness compared to those information starved days. I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't overwhelmed and over stimulated.
I don't chase down phantom breaks or fend off hard charging, imaginary pelotons anymore. I ride because I love to ride. In the end, I suppose that's all one could ask for. However, the motivation of impassioned inspiration to push harder, faster, and farther has withered. Perhaps Peter Pan should kick me square in the nuts. Or, maybe, I've succumbed to the overpowering pervasivness and cheapened currency of information delivered at whim.