By: David Borden Nov 28

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From a personal standpoint, _Fearless,_ the Pink Floyd classic originally penned by the yin-yang duo of Roger Waters and David Gilmour, is one of the most inspirational riding songs that I’ve got tucked into my personal kick-myself-in-the-ass-up-the-hill arsenal. This is the song that immediately and without forethought pops into my head and begins to play as soon as the steeps and climbs start ratcheting down my forward motion. Melodically forward-striding, and building, ever building, in terms of actual tune and momentum the soundtrack alone will musically ‘will you’ to the top of any climb. As old chef Justin Wilson would regularly announce after adding a mixture of ketchup, yellow mustard and ‘mayo-naise’ to whatever it was he was cookin’ in that big ol’ stove pot of his ( invoke Cajun twang here ) “I guarantee”.

If the rhythm of this early seventies classic does not immediately invoke cycling in your musically stimulated mind’s eye, the lyrics, oh the lyrics will make the cycling connection clear:

You say the hill’s to steep to climb.
Climb it.
You say you’d like to see me try.
Climb it.

You pick the place and I’ll choose the time
And I’ll climb that hill in my own way.
Just wait a while for the right day.
And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds
I look down, hear the sounds of the things you’ve said today.

"You see my point. This, my friends is the consummate climbers tune, the true polka-dot jersey of rock & roll..."

You see my point. This, my friends is the consummate climbers tune, the true polka-dot jersey of rock & roll, what’s playing the background as you enjoy your entrée of le climb. Can anything touch this song when one would want to invoke the feeling of getting to the top, particularly when the final “You’ll Never Walk Alone” ending is crowd-sung by a recorded bunch of fans from the bleachers of the renamed Emirates Stadium of the Arsenal FC? I think not. Ultimate triumph after tirelessly plodding against adversity, and a crowd of rabid fans (or if I may to invoke an even stronger image, rabid English Football Hooligans), to herald your arrival at the top. It’s all there in the tune…soup to nuts, beginning ramp to mountain top, the Alpha and the Omega.

But there’s a problem, one issue that I have with this song that just does not fit with the rest of the mood it invokes. It’s the title, “Fearless”. A long and hard climb can seem overwhelming at first, and admittedly, domestically saddled, I’ve not (yet) ridden any of the fabled Euro-climbs that we get to watch throughout the Grand Tour season annually, but does a climb really invoke fear? Apprehension, intimidation, and even a bit of potential for humiliation, yes, yes, and yes...but fear?

"Fearless then is the mantra of those who revel in the downhill."

Fearless and fearlessness much more accurately invokes the after, the opposite, the stay-off-your-brakes downhill fun we all get to enjoy after battling our demons and physical limitations on the way to the top. The downhill then, is where the true “fearless or not” gut check comes in, because as we all have experienced at one time or another, the check-yourself before you wreckity-wreck yourself moments of a sustained and challenging downhill are enough to make anyone starfish-up and clench their chamois and saddle in full Kurt Vonnegut asterisk mode until level ground is again under wheel. It’s a test of mental endurance and tolerance for risk as opposed to the physical challenge of the climb. For those who enjoy a good, fast descent, the ‘reward’ for the climb just undertaken, there is little that can compare to the flow of plummeting down the side of some dropping slope, particularly one that just slowed and perhaps even inwardly humiliated you on the way up. Fearless then is the mantra of those who revel in the downhill.

Splitting hairs, I know. But there you go…

Although there’s no remedy available in changing the name of this beautiful climber’s song to one that is more associatively relevant, something like, oh I dunno…’Winning’, ‘Challenge ( Faced )’ or my personal favorite ‘Crested’, I’m still going to use this anthem of the grimpeur, in my own personal struggles in fighting the gravitational pull of a given climb, and the extraneous pull of all that I’m physically and metaphorically leaving behind and / or being chased from in choosing to ride the targeted ascent. And Fearless, well, I’ll save that until after I catch my breath, you know, for desert.


'Tis the Season

By: David Borden Oct 26

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It’s that time of year again. Autumn, is the season of transition where change leads to dormancy in the natural world around us and one which many of our cycling community use to transition into other forms of training, or non-training and modalities of the bike. It’s signaled by the usual things we’ve come to know and associate with this time of year since we were youths ( or “youts” as an upstart Joe Peschi would one time phrase in his role as a Brooklyn lawyer gone country ) including all the de riguer Fall items: the trading of grass mowing for leaf raking, the realization that we now have earned(?) license to relax and enjoy beer for more than recovery, the interminable shortening of days when light becomes a recognized commodity, and of course, the coming of fall sport.

Fall sport to most Americans comes down to one sport and one sport alone, Football. No I’m not speaking of soccer, or “American Football” but good ol’, ball sport, get your letter and become a jock or not, scientists have determined concussions are bad for you, Football. Great stuff that Football, and I for one, still enjoy watching the game now as much as I at one time enjoyed playing it as an overly and overtly aggressive kid. The thing is, if you’re starting to see some lengthening in the tooth like me, Football has dropped way down on the list of weekend priorities, WAY down the list of priories, until it is no longer a priority at all. Life goes on and as time moves forward and the new, real priorities like your children’s kid-sports, or getting in a block of training, or a long fall foliage ride with friends, the inevitable and somehow usually spouse-inflicted weddings / birthdays / funerals or even a weekend Cyclocross race, take their place at the top of the list of things to do…and rightfully so.

It’s true, and we’re all the better for accepting this change and embracing our new set of priorities however uncomfortable or unfair they may appear at the outset. This correct socialization thing takes time and practice. The trick as many of us have grown to know, the art so to speak in this aging and working it all in, is finding the perfect, workable-for-you balance.

Luckily, after forty three short years I’ve realized my personal balance at this point in life for this transitional time of year. It’s simple really, but in it’s simplicity lies its beauty and truth. Cross and Beer, and in that order. That’s correct, that’s what I’m hanging my lid on this Fall, next Fall and until it doesn’t hold reason any longer. Cross and Beer are my official Fall avocations and these are the things that I look forward to most, as soon as Fall is over and one year and season on the bike move to another. Though perhaps not as eloquent as Frank Zappa’s take on what goes best with beer, this is something I think a good portion of you, kind readers, will not take argument with. And it is with this great anticipation for all things Cross and Beer that I am most looking forward to the Cyclocross race and day of Oktoberfest festivities that will be taking place as part of a new race in the Mid Atlantic, Stoudts Cross. At this point, full disclosure needs to be made here as my team Stoudts Brewing Co. / JB Mountain Bikes Racing are the guys behind this event, held on the grounds of Stoudts Brewing Company and the Euro-esque Stoudtburg Village in Adamstown, PA. You see, come November 4th, a full day of USAC & PACX series sanctioned cyclocross including a single speed category and Lil’ Belgian race for the tots, a complete German menu of freshly prepared Oktoberfest fare including a roast pig that will be slowly turning at the sign-in for pictures before being taken back for carving, twelve on-tap selections of amazing Stoudts craft beers and ales, and a post race party to take place in Stoudts indoor Beer Garden the likes of which have not been seen since last years Bear Creek Cyclocross weekend aka “The Race That Never Happened” injected a new level of fun into the Mid Atlantic scene, will be what I’d otherwise be missing Football for if it weren’t that my boys were on Monday night… as luck would have it.

I still miss seeing my favorite teams and games on TV most Saturday’s and Sunday’s but you know, I think I’ve made the right choice. Cross and Beer (in that order). I’m looking forward to celebrating that life choice come November 4th with as many like-minded friends as possible.

Thanks to Darren Price / Virtual Farm Creative for the images.


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