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.
You say you’d like to see me try.
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.