Monday, May 15, 2017

England postlude

     For most of the year I've dutifully written a post per bike ride - per ride even when the ride was uneventful or lousy. What a gift I gave you all. All 5 of you.
     I've been silent the last two months.
     Not much has changed. I've been riding every other day more or less in London England ( as opposed to London  Malaysia) trying to keep myself in decent enough shape to survive this 600 mile slog from San Fran to LA come June.
     We raised just over 10 grand for AIDS research which is half what I wanted to raise but a decent sum nonetheless.
     I think I've been silent simply as a matter of praise. As a way of acknowledging that spending 3-4 hours every other day on an moving exercise machine in a city I should be exploring by foot every day every hour notebook and camera in hand is if not a kind of madness at least a thing to be damn shamed of.
    Ashamed I suppose but somehow shamed seemed to fit better. To scan.
    London is, as a universe of writers have said, a universe unto itself a physical manifestation of the human condition of one's -and all of the ones combined- yours and their imaginations churning away. More than New York or even Tokyo all things seem possible in London. All things could possibly -you tell yourself- be happening, be being made manifest right now.
   Even now. And now. To quote Rosencrantz. Or ..Guil...
   I'm talking like an idiot because this is the last cycle blog I'll write till I'm on the 6 day ride. Glad I committed to it but Christ I'm excited to get back in a pool and get a great workout in a hour instead of gutting entire days on a 5000 dollar machine I should donate to an able young rider.
   So if anyone out there knows a good charity that hooks up young talented poor cyclists with aging overpaid cyclists do call.
   It's just hard to square getting used to blowing by Big Ben and Parliament and the Horse Guards parade, the Serpentine gallery and Battersea power plant and Chelsea gardens, each and every facade and corner park and ramble and square and museum and gallery ad infinitum - flying by head down fingers on the triggers of the brakes praying the auto maelstrom of London won't snag me once and for all and grind me into the macadam along with two millennia of human trade pumiced into the bedrock of this ancient town, hard to do all that instead of.....stopping and ....soaking it all in , this place that I simply don't have the days left to know.
    Did I mention the theaters? The plays? The book stores? The libraries? The newspapers? The langauage sodden pubs and cafe houses where the language I was raised speaking leaps into overdrive and becomes a tool and a plaything the weapon of American rarely knows?
    Probably not.
    All that said - cruising along the Thames, along any river in any city, squeezing through rows of condensed housing banks and buses back to back and lorries and cabs and out into the air and trees clipping by is a joy untold, a thing forever.
    Cycling as I've said is a brutal business in London. It's a hill free jungle of  medeavil streets spreading in concentric circles for 20 miles. Your first hour if you try to escape into the country is completely wasted time. Which leaves....Richmond Park. 9 snappy miles up the Thames sits Henry the VIII's grand hunting ramble where he chased stag after stag and I'm sure maiden after maiden and where now hordes of Londons cyclists ravenous for open roads without a red light every kilometer now come to find freedom.
    Two climbs you wouldn't even mention in a ride in LA, two descents with curves too tight for most folks to let go on, two packs of deer - yes Henry's stags have been shagging doe from his day Unto our own- wide and wonderful fields of green and trees that look like central Pennsylvania from the dreamy windows of the turnpike - this park has been my refuge and my saving grace. Honestly never had so much fun riding in a circle for three hours at a time in my life. Perspective is a blessing. This verdant hamster wheel in posh West London or the roundabout charnel house of the city proper.
   I shall miss you windblown hillock of ancient kings. Unmown retreat of English urbanites. For in truth all the English love the country. Even born and bred Londoners - there's something about the education or the land itself or the language they're taught that pushes them towards green fields and dark green water. The most urban people from the first  "urban" world - for where did today's cities spring if not from London and Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham - even they, when you dig at their subconscious desires, long for a good wander in a grove of trees.
   Way down deep I think they're all still backing up from the Channel, wary of it, ready to retreat toward the woods like they did when the Romans came or the Saxons or the Vikings or the Normans. Where they woulda beat Hitler had he dared to land.
   Little body with a mighty heart.
   That heart I think, love London as I do, lays out there somewhere in the West.
   Someday I'll have the sense when I'm out in that country to know when to get off the bike and walk out into a field that tells me to.
 

22 comments:

  1. I love reading your blogs they have been misssd

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  2. Your writing is beautiful and always descriptive, it transports a person to where you are. I love reading your blog posts and know that while I may not comment on all of them I do read them. Good Luck on your upcoming ride.

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  4. Thank you, Dave. I've always been reading your blog, however, I'm a very lousy writer and didn't want to bore neither you nor your blog fans with apparant nonsense. I wish you all the best and hope you'll be able to enjoy your ride along the pacific coast, not just for the sake of cycling but for the sake of your heart.

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  5. I love reading your blogs. I know you will do well on your ride. You have raised a lot for your charity. I will think of you in June. Best wishes.

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  6. Wow. So descriptive. I wish I had the money to travel the world and see such sights. But I am a working kind of girl. Like to stay around home and raise my child. It amazing to travel the world and see the sights. There is so much that I can see from your posts. It makes me think I am actually there.

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  7. Yay, Your back! Thought you forgot about us (faithful five, lol)... You should be very proud of all of your hard work and training. Your focus and dedication is truly commendable. I would like to also thank you, for not only sharing your words, but conveying the feelings of your experiences. You have motivated me to revisit my writings and I am very grateful! I have been blessed to have a few of my pieces published by Spillwords.com. My newest piece (might sound familiar) will be published there on May 23rd; its called "Bike Ride". I send its message to you Sir! Thank you & Good Luck on your upcoming event! Many Blessings, Vickie

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  8. London Bridge is admittedly quite ugly, but so are most things made in the 70's, ummm I was made in the 70's, hmmm. Tower Bridge isn't bad though, right? I admire your tenacity--biking in London. A very walkable town, bikes-not so much. It is nice to see that you are able to slow down and enjoy the town and the people for who they are, and not for what you want them to be. Hope you managed to fit in some "Celtic keening and English people screaming at football games."

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  9. Again, enjoyably descriptive. Thank you. This made me want to visit London (and the surrounding country side) that much more. I've always wanted to, as much of my mom's side of the family is from there. My maternal grandfather that is. We have a genealogical book written, it's called "Wharton's of Wharton Hall", that says we are directly related to King Edward II, as well as Sir Thomas Wharton (he was a war hero). So yeah, 1 day I will go visit. And your description here only made me long to be there that much more. My niece is still there currently. Thanks ...Stay safe...

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  10. Glad to see ur still writing, enjoy reading ur blogs. The way u write about it, London seems like a nice place to visit. Good luck with ur ride next month. I was in New York on Tuesday, early b-day gift from friend. We did alot of walking and rode on the tour buses, tried to take as many photos as possible. I will say New York is definitely different from Philadelphia

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  12. Pittsburgh misses you but glad you are doing what makes you happy. Good luck with the bike ride. I'm sure you'll be great!

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  13. I really enjoy your blog. I really like your outlook on events and places. For me, in my little area, it's a nice look into another world. Your writing is exceptional and insightful.

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  15. Hi David,
    You should come to the North East of England, the Countryside is beautiful, same the little towns around Northumberland.
    We have a very popular ride: Coast to Coast, it covers from East to West or West to East of England and another ride called: the Coast and Castles, it is lovely!
    Or if you prefer to walk, then Hadrian Wall is brilliant as well! In here you can see the remains of the Wall that was built by the Romans (Hadrian Emperor) and divided England from Scotland.
    Another smashing walk/ride is in the Lake District, oh man you will love it!
    More than happy to show you around :)

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  16. Hello,

    This is the first time I read your blog found it randomly but so much fun and entertaining. Love the part about the donating the bike machine from hell apparently :). Keep writing, keep being creative it's the only thing that keeps us sane and connected to the world. Pia

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  17. June is coming very soon. I wish you a good ride and good luck. Next step le "tour de France".

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  18. If you haven't promised/donated your bike yet, have you considered The Bike Shop there in Braddock? I was in Braddock on the 10th/11th and got to meet the Fettermans..Awesome folks. I have MUCH respect for them! The Bike shop and the Freestore are inspiring..and I love the community oven..lol..I thought that was quite cool!!
    8 more days...Hope all goes well for your ride..enjoy the day/ride & stay safe..Much respect to you too..

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  19. David,
    This is also my first time reading your blog. Your writings are absolutely lovely but I think I 'hear' some sadness or a void in your words. I know you have a passion for riding but you've possibly put your real passions on hold. Could it be time to return home to Pittsburgh to reflect on your next step in life? I was also born in PA down the mountain from State College. Although I haven't lived there in many years, I still try to return at least once a year to talk to 'my mountains.' I'm in my senior years but I still call it home. Best wishes on your ride in June. Be safe, be happy.

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  21. "Educated men are so impressive!" .....

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