Cheap isn’t a celebrated word. Few people yearn to be considered cheap. Cheap goods are often disposable, shoddy, and inferior. Have you been told that you’re cheap date? I hope not.
Not here though. In this column I will strive to celebrate the finer things that fit into the spectrum of cheapness. This is out of necessity, as I am but a poor student and Cyclocross Magazine intern, but necessity is the mother of invention and what I seek to invent will cost as close to nothing as possible. Testify.
Turn away from the glossy adverts and rediscover your cycling Scrooge. The gentle encouragement and advice from club elders? Free. The knowing nods of approval from other racers as you lay down a blistering attack in the dying miles of your local Tuesday Night World Championships? Free. The unspeakable enjoyment derived from perfectly aligned break pads? Free. The delicious soft chew of a homemade energy bar? Exceptionally cheap, or free if you can steal ingredients from housemates. To paraphrase Jo Stafford’s classic hit, “the best things in life are free, except a pair of 303s.”
Well, this is a good place to start. Base Training. Every serious cyclist, it seems, can afford to spend a week (and ‘spending’ time is as bad as spending money in the eyes of this column) methodically building their fitness. Lucky souls. Hours upon hours devoted to refining that pedal stroke; losing a few pounds despite eating a number of calories that is uncountable to all but the most advanced mathematicians; daydreaming about the glory and the suffering to be experienced in the season ahead. All that time spent in the saddle lends itself to introspection, and not only the introspection of the inside of your skull as your eyes roll about in their sockets. I’m talking about the introspection of places that even the finest chamois cream can’t penetrate. ’Crosser, know thyself.
To paraphrase another song, because I am all about intertextuality, “You may find yourself in another part of the world… and you may ask yourself ‘How did I get here?’
Well, cyclist, I can tell you how you got here: you pedaled here. Of course.
With this spirit in mind, my base training will consist of cycling from Barcelona to Paris. I have lived in Barcelona since October, and it is time to move on. I thought to myself, how can I turn this process into something that would contribute to me being awesome-fast this winter? Do I really want to pay for a short hall flight back to the UK?
NEVER. For the cost of a flight I have bought two panniers and a sleeping bag. I have off-loaded books and ornaments on unsuspecting friends, and shoved a holdall that truly held-all into the hands of my Father when he visited last week. Now that I am suitably shed of worldly possessions, my search for cycling Zen will begin on Monday morning. Ten days later I will resurface in Paris, a better cyclist and hopefully a better man.
So, see you in two weeks. I will diligently report back with my findings. If nothing is heard from me ever again, assume that I discovered a level of cheap cycling Nirvana so ‘rich’ that it could not be digested into blog form. Until next time,
David is a cyclist in general and ‘crosser in particular. He’s also in the final year of a degree in Literature at the University of Warwick, but will be spending most of his time trying to thrash on a single speed steel rig. Hup hup.