In a recent column I quoted JFK: “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
As you ascend a mountain the air becomes less compressed and thinner, making it harder to breathe. At 5,359 metres above sea level the air pressure is 50% less than at sea level, which makes breathing even more difficult – not exactly prime conditions for cycling uphill.
I recently watched a video by world-renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz who famously photographed John Lennon on the day he was assassinated. She was talking about her work and one thing she said really struck me: “I’m not a technical photographer... If that’s what you’re thinking about then you’re not taking photographs”.
“That is some of the best kilometres I’ve ever cycled, anywhere”.
Many years ago I went on a guided cycling trip in the French Alps. It was my first time cycling abroad, and I loved every minute of it.
I’m always amazed at the range of emotions I go through when I’m riding my bike. This was amply demonstrated last week when I got an opportunity to cycle on Mont Ventoux – Le Géant de Provence. At an altitude of 1909 metres this mountain towers above everything else around it.
The world of cycling is filled with dos and don’ts. I don’t mean the thick race rule book that arrives every year with my British Cycling membership, or even the Highway Code.
Even just 10 years ago cycling was a very different beast. As with all areas of life, technology has taken us to unprecedented realms that might seem helpful, but I believe there remains a little part of our soul that yearns for the romance of riding our bikes – a connection that transcends the electronic interference creeping into our everyday rides.
If you were to type a search on the internet for “quotes” you would be inundated with millions of pages all dedicated to excerpts of phrases that inspire, ridicule and among other things paraphrase the human condition. A similar search for “cycling quotes” throws up nearly 18 million results. There is obviously something about quotes that we find inspirational; social media is full of them, we print them on T-shirts and posters and even tattoo them on our bodies.
In the 1980s, Dr Robert Butler, the founder of the National Institute on Ageing, remarked: “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”