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VecchioJo pedals into a grey area

Grey days are the hardest of days.

Wind, rain, cold, snow - all have their place neatly lined up along the bookshelf of rugged adversity, stories told interminably ad infinitum in books, magazines and sewn into the pockets of certain jerseys to show how tough the ride was, how much there was suffering and just how goddam stoic you were. All of that which cycling has become.

Tough though they are, and conducive to yet another tale grown grittier by the telling, they are a life-affirming fanfare compared to the smothering blanket of the flat grey day. It is the monochrome that permeates these interim times of year, day-on-day, grinding tedium, slowly gently quietly drip-chip-drip-chipping away at the heart and bones. Picking at the loose threads of enthusiasm and unraveling them to leave a granite hollow.

Wind gives you something to fight against, scream or swear into, and yet for about half the time is a friend. Rain is miserable, but there are modern fabrics now that cheerfully shrug it off. Snow is all at once stupid, dangerous and fun. Cold nips the skin and paralyses the edges and may bring accomplice ice along to add the frigid frisson of fear and the possibility of physical and monetary pain. The infrequent needle sting and spitting out of hail.

All of these weathers interact, they are tangible, proffering an experience; push, pull, touch, tear, bite, burn, chew, scuff, scratch, gnaw, a reassurance that you might be alive via challenged senses.

Grey does nothing. It is an impassive neutral. The saturated absence of feeling and colour, it absorbs will and desire into its dull devoid. If you want a fight it will soak up each one of your punches for as long as you care. Riding into and through putty.

Sky is tarmac, tarmac is sky, all is the same and endless monotony.

You can try and pretty it by calling it Mole’s Breath or Deep Fossil or Smoulder but it is still just grey, in-between the polarities. It is the stagnant middle ground no matter how many shades you fluff it up in, the resolute non-committal. Vapid. Flat. Grey. Empty. Staring into the vacant eyes of a pointless dead relationship, emotion and motion unreciprocated.

Pedaling into nothing is the hardest thing of all. Grey.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

12 comments

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Kadinkski [809 posts] 4 years ago
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Errr...its normally a minor miracle if I read an article on this site that doesn't contain a bunch of typos, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.

What the hell is going on here? Beautifully written - evocative and poetic...and very true too.

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tom_w [239 posts] 4 years ago
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Superb and so very true. These first few signs of spring feel like coming out of a miserable grey purgatory!

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TheHound [117 posts] 4 years ago
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Clearly been reading far too much Velominati

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2 Wheeled Idiot [432 posts] 4 years ago
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I like riding in rain and snow and adverse conditions, makes me feel well'ard innit  3
Grey days are spectacularly meh....good for getting into a trance state but it is dull as dishwater.

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Quince [380 posts] 4 years ago
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TheHound wrote:

Clearly been reading far too much Velominati

Yeah Jo, stop evoking... stuff! You're drawing parallels between, like, some stuff, and... other stuff, and it's making me feel uneasy!

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Leviathan [3057 posts] 4 years ago
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Does the sky have cracks in it?

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TerreyHill [34 posts] 4 years ago
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I think it was Bill Bryson who wrote that living in England is like living in a Tupperware box with the lid on

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PRINCIPIA PHIL [59 posts] 4 years ago
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Looking at the photos i thought i'd mistakenly navigated on to Farrow & Ball's website!

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Tony Farrelly [2999 posts] 4 years ago
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I like grey days, you can concentrate on enjoying the ride without worrying about the weather. I like riding at night too - the road and the sky are basically the same colour then too.

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truffy [649 posts] 4 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Does the sky have cracks in it?

It has holes, at least according to Spike Milligan.

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ragtimecyclist [160 posts] 4 years ago
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All very familiar. Your selection of photos are suitably monochrome grey. I can feel apathy and depression kicking in.

It's enough to drive me to the Easyjet site to price up a flight to Majorca.

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kitkat [495 posts] 4 years ago
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A friend from the U.S called Britain, 'the land of a thousand greys' - how right he is