Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Common Threads

The Blayleys, Northern Ireland
To watch The Blayleys walk across the pasture beside my house felt surreal, if only because it seemed so natural. John Bayley is Irish, so his presence registers as entirely normal here. But also, Ireland just doesn't feel that far from the Greater Boston area. It was almost as if we were meeting in rural Vermont or Western Massachusetts. Well, not quite. But the setting did not feel wildly foreign. 

What did feel foreign was the complete absence of cycling. Pamela is still recovering from her injury earlier this year. And they were not staying long enough to make it worthwhile for John to bring a bike along. So here we were - interacting not as three cyclists, but simply as three people. Meeting at the train station, we walked to my house along the country roads as the sun set over the mountain. Then we lounged indoors by the fire until 2 in the morning.

Dave Smith and John Bayley
Throughout the evening, others came. For a place as remote and under the radar as Northern Ireland, it is surprising easy to end up in serendipitous situations. Cycling persona Dave Smith - aka @ffflow - happened to be in the area. Now here he was, at my house, in the flesh, bearing a bottle of wine and stories that had nothing to do with cycling. International man of mystery Clive Somerville joined us as well, just back from a trip to Abu Dhabi. Wine and food appeared. Introductions were mostly dispensed with. Conversations began from the middle and went in unexpected directions, as if we all knew each other better than we did. 

How does that happen exactly? None of us were from the area. And all had had something unusual happen to us in recent times. Maybe that was the common thread, the disinhibiting factor. As well as the knowledge that we were all connected by our love of bicycling, even if the topic was hardly mentioned.

Fun with Fire
I used to think that I would not know what to do outside a cycling context with those whom I knew through cycling. This year has proved that to be entirely wrong. And as strange as 2013 has been, that is one thing I am grateful to it for. 

The Blayleys, Northern Ireland
In the morning, I walked with Pamela and John to the shore, across the fields of faded grass. Pamela is tough and resilient, and the next time we meet we could very well be riding bikes together. But, as with my other guests from last evening, the cycling aspect seems almost irrelevant now to our connection. The threads that bound us might be threads of wool and lycra, but somehow they have helped us transcend the realm of cycling. 

23 comments:

  1. Nicely done. Ideally this is what happens as we age and mature. I've been an active cyclist for half a century. My spouse and many of my closest friends come from that background. The ties remain, even as we move through different stages of life, some of which preclude cycling.

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  2. A thousand thanks for your writing.

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  3. Thank you for updating us on fixie pixie's progress!

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  4. Of course. The bike is only an intro.

    Vignette.

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    1. Too true.

      And the Blayleys hardly seem like single dimension people although they do tell great cycling stories.

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    2. That 24mm lens does have some serious vignetting.

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  5. Can't find it right now, but I recall a post from couple of years back about your love of open spaces. That would explain the incredible landscape in these photos! What is the back story, don't tell me this is your yard?!

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    1. If that's her yard, then the blog will soon be devoted to lawnmowers.

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    2. Oh and the "yard" is Bellarena Airfield, at the Ulster Gliding Club. Near my house, but not quite my back yard, so thankfully they mow the lawn (with a tractor mowing thingie).

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    3. Open landscapes have always made me nervous, but I enjoy your take on them in that and other essays.

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    4. I think a homogenous, US midwestern landscape of the kind described by the original author in Solace would make me nervous - or at least slightly agoraphobic. But here it is varied and "textured," with mountains in the background in nearly all directions and a feel of the land opening up to the sea. If something can be comforting and breathtaking at the same time, that is how it feels.

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  6. Greetings...

    Glad to see a bit of Christmas in the photos. Hoping the spirit of the season pervades your very soul.

    L. J. Biklangelo Jones

    PS: Would love to see another non-bike related blog right after Christmas...Christmas in Ireland.

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  7. You and Pamela should plan a reunion ride somewhere exciting and exotic!

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  8. I thought you were going to post about some grass mowing sheep and goats with all of that green in the pictures.
    Stay alert, aircraft are notoriously quiet on approach, especially gliders!
    With the icy holiday season, I have been going to get togethers with my friends of H-dock at Gateway Marina and the Brooklyn Velodrome Vintage Wheelmen. Many of us hardly know each other outside of boating or biking. The talk is mixed but easy and enjoyable. Something to help the dark days pass more quickly.
    I hope Pam can / will ride again soon.
    Stay warm!!

    vsk

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    1. When this airfield is active (which it wasn't during our walk through it), there are rules wrt in which sections you can walk without getting hit by a landing plane :) Thankfully they explain this to visitors before letting them loose onto the field.

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  9. Which one of you killed a man in the boxing ring and is returning to the ancestral cottage to court Maureen O'Hara? Maybe I pry too much.

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    1. Okay, let me catch up by finishing the Third Policeman first!

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  10. Oh my. Those two look like they could use a good hot Irish meal or two! Hope you have been feeding them V ;P

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  11. i expected this post to be about ibex and rapha...

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  12. Love, love, love your writing, Velouria. Terrific storyteller. Disarming personality. Keep up the good work!

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