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Zen and the art of riding in silence


Some rides flow seamlessly and others have very clearly defined beginnings, middles and ends. Sundays’ mid morning meander being a case in point. The strong autumn sun called Ninja Blue and I for a blast before the season turns bandit-to do otherwise would’ve been a missed opportunity. Ninja Blue is my pet name for the Holdsworth-it’s a very long story and one for another time but as with many other things pertaining to yours truly, there’s more than a spoonful of sentiment involved.

As we glided through the village, very attune to traffic conditions, yet equally deep in thought, I turned right into the tight and winding rural back roads to a warm “Alright mate!” Caught by surprise, I must’ve seemed unnecessarily aloof upon realising the second of two road riders was in fact addressing me. Remembering my tongue and crucially manners I uttered a polite “Yourself?” before his “Yeah, not bad” concluded our dialogue.

My relatively distant response left a twinge of guilt but then; I was in one of those very quiet modes that typify me- times calling for a steady cadence, reflection and inner peace. Bowling along the lanes saw periodic encounter with kindred spirits before confronting little mountains road. My ego whispered of how I flew up here in my teens fixed or freewheel and mercifully, powering a 79inch gear, my legs met the challenge without hesitation-despite the surface turning to treacle toward the summit . Strangely enough, body and soul felt no inclination to cruise beyond a consistent twenty mph throught.

This was just as well, entering a tight turning and chasing onward I was greeted by a group of children playing in the lane. Given these paranoid times I was reassured to see children allowed to be carefree. The worrying component was their desire to dart back and forth across the narrow stretch of road. Mercifully a cautiously driven Renault people carrier had tempered their passion for this curious game of dare but my right hand hovered over the brake nonetheless. A quick kick of the transmission saw us accelerate away before anyone showed intention to shoot across our path.

Rushing past the rows of cottages, flowing through the bends, I began to feel better about the world, my place within it, singing a strange Led Zeppelin track about scoring drugs atop a mysterious mountain…One thing leads to another and I suddenly found myself wondering if I should’ve loaded the trailer on the Univega and paid homage to Tesco- around trip of around twelve miles. Reasoning the ceaseless quest for such efficiency/time management was a sin on what has traditionally been a day of rest, Ninja Blue and I rejoiced in the simplicity of sunny, temperate days and open roads.

The last four miles were uneventful save for three inexperienced horse riders and my Blackburn mini pump developing lemming tendencies. Nearly home, I thundered back through the village and was just approaching the primary school when my serene, pleasurable bubble was rudely ruptured by a sickening clatter…

The Sound of something darting under the wheels of a Renault Clio. For a split second I believed this tolled the death of my compact Fuji camera. Patting my jersey pocket brought floods of relief and glancing over my shoulder revealed it was in fact said pump. Amazingly given it had gone beneath the wheels of a small car, damage is remarkably superficial- some scuffing to the resin and alloy but otherwise completely unscathed…The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways!


Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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