For the best part of a decade road cycling has given me a kind of existential centre. It’s seen me forge some of the best friendships I’ve know; it’s opened communities of unusually kind and talented people; and it’s kept me in a condition of athletic health I would once have never dreamed of.
Beyond my amateur bike racing, which I sometimes document here, riding has immersed me in my local environment, instilling a deep sense of connection with the hills of north-east Melbourne.
Earnest Hemingway once offered a good description of how a rider’s affinity with landscape is formed:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them…. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar 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.
Name a local road to a road cyclist – Flat Rock, Clintons, Mt Pleasant – and you’ll evoke ratios of discomfort and pleasure which function like the language of the terrain, emotionally and physically.
So here in my hills, with my friends, I’ve found something really worth holding on to.
It’s special, it’s changed my life, and sometimes I try to write about it.