In October, my second book, A Rolling Stone: Taking the Road Less Travelled, was released.
Arthur Conan Doyle
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
What do aerodynamics, copy-editing and Strava have in common?
If you’re part of the very select and niche group that has a passion for writing and cycling, or bikes and books as I prefer, then I hope the musings below will be of interest.
If bikes and books aren’t your thing then get away now…go have a chuckle at the Legover Test Match Special clip…if that doesn’t raise your morale then I don’t know what will!
Nb. This article was not planned at all. I was happily writing about editing a book when this idiotic analogy came into my head.
STEP 1: FINISH THE FIRST DRAFT AND TAKE A BREAK
Buying a bike and having some of the right gear.
I was ready to go cycling somewhere but without much of an idea of the route, the clothing I needed or who to go with.
STEP 2: THE RED PEN PROCESS
I’ve upgraded my bike to include drop-down handlebars and clip-on pedals.
I’ve purchased some lycra, watch the Tour de France highlights, can change a tyre when I get a puncture and have purchased a Garmin mini-computer.
STEP 3: TRUSTED READERS
I’ve joined Strava.
Suddenly my cycling endeavours (or writing) is available to be seen by a small selection of people that I have allowed in.
I’m now comfortable on a group ride and am learning “The Rules”. (If you need to ask what that is then you aren’t a cyclist and that’s absolutely fine…in fact, it’s probably better than fine – your girlfriend/boyfriend should be grateful). I’ve set aside a few afternoons to watch the Tour de France on Eurosport and have iCal “meetings” for the key alpine stages.
STEP 4: COPY-EDITING
The aluminium bike one has been sold to a friend and I’ve gone carbon. I’m starting to care about inane details such as slamming stems, saddle heights, disc brakes and aerodynamic efficiency.
There’s no backing out now really…I’m committed. I’m delving into the back catalogues of past Giro d’Italia winners. Should I shave my legs? The pros do it after all. It might make me quicker and, with Strava Premium to justify, I just might. I’ve got my British Cycling membership and am eyeing up Cat 3 level racing. Surely this is too far now?
“Darling, what are your thoughts on summer holidays?”
“Absolutely, where are you thinking?”
STEP 5: TWEAKING: PROOFREADING/FORMATTING
The point of no return.
Legs shaved, flights to Mallorca booked and an intricate knowledge of French chateaux complete. I’ve downloaded the ITV Tour de France theme tune and am immediately recalling memories of Froomey’s descent on Col de Galibier. I dream of riding with the guys from Cycling Weekly, weigh up the one-day strengths of Spartacus vs Boonen vs Sagan and buy the Sunday Times just to hear what David Walsh is going to say next.
The aero bike doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. I’ve gone full aero with a TT helmet, disc wheels and bottles. I’m that guy. Please forgive me.