Need For The Bike – now there there’s a title that speaks to me these days as I hang around the kitchen of a morning, nose pressed to the window pane, looking out at the rosy dawns that have characterised these past few days. No doubt the hard men of the Belgian spring classics would have been back in the saddle some days ago, spinning over the cobbles at speed and sneering at the discomfort their cracked ribs and twanging shoulder tendons were giving them. But not I.
I have resolutely been staying indoors, a sensitive, injured, middle-aged writer not at all into the glory through suffering thing that wins races, carves legends and earns one cachet amongst the readers of Rouleur. I am not training for anything and therefore no need to suffer.
On the contrary, I like my bike rides to be breezy and fun, the actual riding an almost subliminal act – a fusion of man and bike, spinning along the lanes in an effortless continuum, enjoying that sense of aerial liberation that comes with riding a bicycle purely for pleasure. It is hard to do that with a lot of searing, white-hot distractions.
And so I wait and recuperate, seeking my daily doses of escapism in books and in writing until I am feeling up to riding again – notice I am not saying ‘hitting the road’. I do not care to hit the road ever again.
In the meanwhile have found time to re-read Paul Fournel’s elegantly written Need for the Bike. It is a lovely little book – a genuine piece of literature as opposed to the usual sporty cycling memoir, although it fills that role as well. It is a book that defies easy description, being a sort of montage of thoughts, recollections, anecdotes and dry humour written by an urbane French avant garde writer, poet, publisher, former cultural attaché at the French Embassy in Cairo, now the cultural attaché in London. It is a delight to read, a book you can dip into wherever you like and find a clever thought or story. Highly recommended.