Author: Admin

Arima Hot Springs and Mount Rokko, I

Free-wheeling downhill through the hot-spring town of Arima I almost hit a rubbish collecting truck at 60km/h. I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was. I can’t read the road signs. I need images to remember things. If you look at a map of Japan it looks a bit like a sausage dog with a long neck. It stands on short hind legs with one of its ears raised. Fukuoka is just above its hind leg and below South Korea. Tokyo is where the front leg is, folded in. Sapporo is the top of the neck.  I’m just above the sausage dog’s navel near Kobe in the town of Arima at about 350 m above sea level. My target up on Mt. Rokko is five-hundred meters higher, fifteen kilometers away. It took KMorita about 34 mins to complete the course at the Arima-Mt. Rokko Race five months ago. KMorita seems to be reference point for virtual cycling in Japan. He won the Digital Japan Cup in UTSUNOMIYA in October. Perhaps I should make Utsunomiya my …

Passo Giau II, Impure

I’m not the only rider this time. I think impure thoughts aimed at overtaking. When I get close to the first rider about a quarter of the way up the climb he speeds up. I stay at a steady 3 w/kg. The relationship between input and output is pure in cycling. That’s part of the draw. It’s what brings others to Passo Giau. Virtual purity. One should be mature enough to interact with one’s fellow virtual riders on positive terms or not at all. Maybe there’s a way of hiding them. I’d like to spend more time in the area. South-east from Cortina d’Ampezzo, it looks like you can take a left rather than the right towards Passo Giau. Then I’d eventually get to Lagole di Calzalzo with a 2500 year old shrine to a deity known in ancient times as Trumusiate. This was an ancient place of healing. A spa of sorts. The website of the local museum says the spa’s resident deity was Apollo. But was Apollo a healer? His son Asclepius is …

Passo Giau I, The Scotland of Italy

A travel writer called the Dolomite Mountains The Scotland of Italy “because of its character and that of its people, and the legendary and historic romance that surrounds them.” It’s an unexpected connection between places. Alexander Robertson wrote his travel book in 1896. We could try and put ourselves in his shoes. What sort of whiskey would you take to the Scotland of Italy to have on the night before an ascent of a famous pass? I chose Laphroaig, not least because there were two bottles available. Laphroaig Select and Laphroaig 10 year-old. They were both peaty. The 10 year-old had a darker colour. I didn’t want to spend very much time getting to know them better on the evening before the ascent. It’s safe to say that Laphroaig’s Select and 10 year-old are closer to each other than Scotland is in style to Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. I had enough comparisons in mind to make my nervous system jittery and to give me trouble sleeping the night before the first climb. A bird was singing …

GCR #14 – RYS – Ashwell – RYS

The use of a gold card is not essential to Gold Card Running. The gold card is now elevated to a mythical, spiritual realm: it explains the first move, the first run, it provides context and meaning tinged with irony as it languishes defunct, de-activated; a redundant relic in a folder somewhere. Perhaps I will never own an active gold card again… Walking and running are more important now that we are more attached to our abodes, snails clinging to our shells, workers of the rebooted cottage industry. Walks are significant events. Some workers of the new cottage industry schedule walks in their work-calendars. As the walk approaches the calendar pings into the virtual meeting. A run gives you greater variation and more distance. The only reason to walk when you can run is that you’re tired or you want to talk at the same time. I believe the home will assume a startling new importance in Third Wave civilization. The rise of the prosumer, the spread of the electronic cottage, the invention of new …

GCR#13 – BDK-RYS (top)

Running means self-isolation, I have never understood the point of running in a group. The pace of others distracts from one’s own. In Bath, runners wore face masks at a half-marathon staged in the twilight of free movement just before the realisation of viral risks had sunk in. The organisers engaged in hermeneutics of government apocrypha to justify their position. The Class 700 to Baldock is empty. Sunlight flashes on the blue hand-holds attached to each seat designed for passengers to hold on to when they must stand. 3 people get on at Baldock and I get off. I decide to take the “top” route to the hills towards the chalk escarpment of Therfield Heath. A bird of prey circles by the motorway and I overhear a father telling his two boys that it is looking for lunch. The motorway is proportionally busier than the train. A police-van drives down towards me and its driver waves. A cyclist passes telling me as he passes that he hadn’t expected so much wind. Driving lessons are in …

GCR#12 – RYS-AWM-RYS

This winter feels like late spring, the fields are green already, birds are getting comfortable, it is warm in the sun, warm enough for shorts. I have no clear plan for the run, but settle into the groove of the Ashwell and Morden circuit. I carry three bits of dried fruit, papaya, melon and orange. The dried fruit is so sweet it’s difficult to believe no sugar has been added. How does the process work? They are a remembrance of fresh fruit past and of a store front in Munich that I remember, dried fruit laid out like a colours on a palette. The papaya first after running out of steam relatively quickly. The effect is immediate, it lights up the system, restores bounce. Is the effect psychological? How can a dried papaya’s energy be released into legs in seconds? Downhill to the A-Road, car wheels eating up the road, and they all seem to be speeding. The melon is next at the bridge over the tracks by AWM. The run is further than intended, …

GCR#11 AWM-RYS

I am just in time for the train from St. Pancras. St Pancras: a Roman teenager beheaded for his beliefs. First class at the back of the train is declassified. The secret of this subtle declassification is spreading: it’s crowded here. It’s dark now, the battery in my headlight is weak. A hesitant start on the road. Will the cars see me? Is the reflective vest reflective enough? I walk as the watch finds its GPS signal, then run. I decide it’s safer on the road now than when it isn’t dark. Cars slow down, the reflective jacket does its job. Off-road I can just about see a step in front of me. Muscles and knees feel tense. The natural collaboration between legs stepping and mind processing is disturbed. Some steps jar against an unexpected lump or drop into an invisible depression. I know the way well, but not well enough to orient myself. The transitions from one suface to another are startling, events signifcant in the dark are trivial in the light of day. …

GCR#10 – HIT-LET

It’s a week of interesting delays: delayed due to waiting for the other half of the train, delayed due to a broken down train in front of us, delayed because of poor track conditions, delayed because the overhead lines have been brought down by a rogue pantograph around Blackfriars. This is my first cross-line run: Peterborough train to Hitchin, run to Letchworth then catch a connecting train to Royston. That’s the plan. I aim for Icknield and end up making a mess of directions, running in circles, in and out of blind alleys. I’ve developed a taste for chaotic jogs over new territory. Everything is new. I would never have seen these places otherwise. Running the same route time and again starts to feel like work at some point. Familiarity sharpens sensitivity. The arguments for our triviality and vulnerability are too obvious, too well known and too tedious to rehearse. What is interesting is that we may take it upon ourselves to approach tasks with utter determination and gravity even when their wider non-sense is …

GCR #9 – AWM – RYS

Nada suele ser más difícil que no fingir comprender. Nicolas Gomez Davila Balance is attained, kept, lost, regained. If there’s no struggle then you’re probably fooling yourself: you’re not balancing, you’ve missed the point.  Running is about balance. It’s not an explicit balance like you’d need to walk a tightrope. Eight kilometers pass easily because I’m not paying attention. My mind is wound up. Once in a while I remember Kabat-Zinn, a voice imprinted in memory: focus on the breath, back to the breath, register your mind has strayed; note where it is, focus on the breath.  A bit of tiredness kicks in, the weight of focus changes. The mind focuses on resistance. The resistance is in the activity now. The thoughts that seemed so important unravel as trivial pursuits. Running mid-week inverts the normal pattern. The normal pattern is the pattern on days when you’re relaxed from the start. It begins with focus and attention and ends in conscious distraction. In contrast, the mid-week pattern begins with distraction and ends with focus as the …

GCR#8 – RYS-BDK-RYS

The marathon distance is the benchmark of running distances: Phedippides died of exhaustion, but with joy on his lips. It is natural to wonder what this amount of running feels like. Four and a half hours is my aim. I wondered about 42 km during my last run and felt I should try the distance then. But my legs pulled me back to the orbit of Ashwell’s church toward the home stretch and my imagination did not resist. There are two ways of thinking about things. One focuses on the real, one on the possible. “It is how it is,” says the realist. “Well,” thinks the possibilist, “it could probably be different.” One handy device is the notion of blessing (or curse) in disguise. By pointing to the ways in which many presumed “obstacles” to development have in some situations turned into an asset and a spur, one obviously casts doubt on any statements about this or that “obstacle” having to be eliminated if there is to be this or that desirable development…” Albert Hirschmann …