as many of you may have noticed, i have always had enormous respect and admiration for Mr. Graeme Obree, for what he represents as a human being as much as what he does on two wheels. he and his mad bike caught my imagination in a way nothing else really has in the world of cycling ever since, as i watched on as a teenager as he and Chris Boardman battled on in their many duels.
you can guess who i was rooting for! it was the conservative, methodical Englishman against the eccentric and non-linear Scot. Boardman was a fantastic cyclist and is a noce fella – I met him once at a crit in the UK, where I was second and he was first, about three minutes ahead of the rest of us – but it was in Obree that i recognised genius, the kind that takes men over frozen wastes and into deep, impenetrable jungles.
here was someone special, someone uncontrollable, someone very much volatile but truly, it seemed to me, truly alive.
he walked away from doping too, making his own stand against the corruption in pro cycling at that time. he was crankpunking even before the term ever saw the light of day..!
so when i received an email from Zoe Lavoi-Gouin, Production Manager at Journey Pictures Ltd., asking me to spread the word about a kickstarter campaign that they started to help raise the last 20,000 GBP that will help them take the 200+ hours of material they compiled over two years of following Graeme as he attempted to break the Human Powerer Speed Record into a finished film, i agreed immediately.
“We have just completed the filming of a documentary covering two years in the life of twice world record holder and twice world champion, cyclist icon Graeme Obree,” wrote Zoe.
“It began in his kitchen in Saltcoats, Ayrshire in 2011 and just ended in September 2013 in the mountains of Nevada, USA. We filmed at least 200 hours of material but we now require help in raising the funds to finish the project! We have launched a KICKSTARTER campaign to raise £20,000 to cover the cost of a craft editor, and the editing suite he will use, the sound mix, the completion of the final big screen version, colour corrected with titles and graphics as well as the master for the streams, downloads and DVD’s.”
so click here to go to their Kickstarter link, and donate if you feel so inclined.
The project FB is here, please go ‘like’ and let’s raise them up a bit.
Here is their Twitter account.
stuck for xmas present ideas? check these out in today’s Guardian newspaper…
you make a decision and a choice. every time you clip in. it is the enactment of your will. drop through the gears. arse on saddle. flex in the thighs. the body leads, the mind follows. in a world where demands are made and must be met, be they taxes, departures, working hours or any other obligation that tethers us to the bind, strips us of our sight and leaves us blind, when you ride you enter the environs on the outskirts of liberation. you are on the approach to freeness. you’re fighting against the curse of our times – doing nothing. a movement against inertia. you are making a statement. heard through action. every pedal stroke a word, every kilometer a sentence, every hundred a chapter. writing a book with your being. letting the world know that this tribe will not pass by into the dust. that you will not desist. no matter what else it is you do, you are doing this, conscious or not. the mind leads, the body follows. it works both ways, it becomes one and you know you are of the earth just as you leave it, however fleeting, like a seed on the wind, to grow, to build, to become a fulfillment, forcing into the bend, easing out of the curve. impossible in the limitless of what you can achieve, for a singular moment. maybe two, if you are very lucky. but you made this. it is not luck. it is the enactment of control, of self, and, lest it be forgotten, left to gather cobwebs like so much else we once believed in, it is the exhumation of a dream. relinquish and release, relax, through the tension and concentration of stress. the sweat. the tightness. the ache you love. when you get closest to realizing the magnitude the words fall away, thoughts vacate. [now] becomes real. and it comes again and again and again, every time you leave that door.
a life on two wheels.
i’ve been away for a couple of days to Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast, climbing some parts of the famous Wuling mountain. i was there with former teammate Yin Chi Wang to do a photo-shoot with some Japanese journalists. this is one epic, not to mention stunning, climb.
here below is part of a report i wrote on the climb after completing the Taiwan KOM Challenge 2 years ago. this year’s event will be held on November 9th, entries opening soon, watch this space for more on that.
‘Itʼs a 90km beast of an event that lives in central Taiwan, and goes from a sleepy, cosy little town by the name of Hualien, meanders through the magnificent Taroko Gorge amidst and sometimes through enormous slabs of ancient rock so delightful that they entice riders, even mid-race, to let out gasps of wonder, and up and up and up to the summit, all 3,275 meters of it.
With an average of 7% for the first 104km the speed there is quite high, but it’s the last 8km that knock you out. 17% average with pitches up to 27.8%. In the closing kilometers the air is thin and the life is sucked from your bones.’
*all shots taken with an iPhone 5 and the Optrix waterproof camera-case
‘oh he’s blown it, attacking like that…. now he’s chasing too hard… he won’t… wait – what the?! he’s done it!’
i’m not saying he got lucky.
but he did.
he definitely did.
he was definitely lucky.
phew, and i thought crankpunk was no respecter of reputations, an irreverent take on the world of cycling.
then i came across these guys, the Jens Voigt Army folks. JVA takes irreverence out the back door, kicks it black and blue around the alleyway for half an hour, then tips it all befuddled into the dumpster, and then takes a proper long ass old leak on it.
the attention to detail, the loving, almost slavish mockery, the sheer dedication to out-brand the brand – well – ouch!
in a good and very funny way and even dare i say deserving way, but, all the same – ouch!
‘too Liggett to quit.’
that will keep me going on my 4 hour slog today…
crank on, JVA grunts, crank on…
i have to thank my friend Rachel McPhail for sending this in to me, first of all – cheers Rachel!
“Cycling is not an acceptable thing for women to do in Afghanistan,” begins a paragraph on the website Combat Apathy that has the article on this team, which you can read in full here. you may well think ‘hmm, along with teaching, studying, walking around with an uncovered head or aspiring to be a professional anything,’ and you’d be right, at least in the Taliban held areas.
yet here are a group of women, living in Afghanistan, who are doing just that. riding, that is, and man, may Eddy bless them.
amazingly, the article tells us, there are 60-70 female riders in the war-torn country, a fact that astounds me. perhaps i am very ill-informed on Afghanistan (actually, apart from the war, the Taliban and opium growing statistics, i definitely am), but had there been just one lone woman cranking the pedals i would have been surprised.
the Combat Apathy people are to join in a collaborative effort to produce a short documentary on the Afghan Women’s National Cycling Team, which, they say, will be about “what it means to ride in the controversial country.”
sounds amazing? well, yes. they are currently holding a ‘gear drive‘ in Colorado to collect equipment for the team, something you can maybe go and contribute to if you live close by. i’m going to mail them to see if there is anything else that those of us living in far off lands can do to help.
Shannon Galpin, who spent three years mountain biking in Afghanistan, is the driving force behind the project, and on her Mountain 2 Mountain blog she describes how she first found out about the team:
“..we found out that there are women cycling in Afghanistan, and as part of the National Cycling Team under his [the men's team coach] support. There are 10-12 women on the national team, and a total of 60-70 riding in the country. They are taking their love of bikes to extremes – Afghanistan still does not culturally accept women riding bikes, and right now the women only train once a week due to safety concerns and support. In four years of riding bikes in Afghanistan I have yet to meet a woman that rides, so finding women in Kabul and Mazar i Sharif that are riding, and desire to race, made my heart swell with excitement. The more women that ride, the more that will become accepted, and perhaps we’ll soon see girls riding bikes to school like in other countries!”
you can if you feel so inclined contact the people behind the planned film here:
why the crankpunkers of the year award to these women? even before the year is out?
well, as Rachel wrote, “Boy-o, there ain’t NOTHING in this world crankier and punkier than a Muslim woman on a bike in an extremist front-line war zone nation.”
crank on, women, crank on.