Wednesday 27 June 2012

How to Slay a Hill

I'm about to blog about everything that has happened up to now, but for now I'd like to give you the following and a bit of context. On Sunday I cycled for 10.5 hours over 150km (93 miles) in the pouring rain through Belgium, France, Belgium and Luxembourg to reach the capital as I was in great need of a rest day in a hostel. With 60km to go, at 4pm, I was cold and out of food, and decided to give up and look for a hotel. There wasn't one in the town I was in, so I had to continue on, camping wasn't an option that night.

There came a point in the next few hours where I lost all sanity, something clicked in my mind and I did the most vulgar laugh out loud as I realised that I was going to make it to Luxembourg no matter what. The determination was suddenly there in my mind and I was so happy as I knew this meant I would make it there for sure.

The following is a collection of brief conversations that occurred in my mind between me and the endless hills during the last 60km. It is the strangest, most insane thing I've ever 'written', and I won't be upset if you think I've lost my marbles. It's not meant to be a poem.

NOTE: It should be read in a slow, dramatic manner like someone in Lord of the Rings giving a battle speech to his soldiers, as that is how it sounded in my head,

How to Slay a Hill

You summon your most fierce warriors.
Roaring great trucks from the depths of Eastern Europe
Swoosh close to my side, unleashing a spray of fallen rain
Upon my face, already dripping.

You throw the intimidation card
Utilising local tractors to build up queues of cars quietly
Before a dozen Audis, Porsches and Mercedes try to shock me with their sudden acceleration
As you release them from the slave-master tractor.

You vandalise the smooth Belgian tarmac
With potholes on the side of the road,
Teasing me, knowing I can’t ride in the middle.
Well I SPIT in your potholes.

You call upon the heavens to open upon me
But once again, your attacks are futile
Can’t you see I’m wearing Gore-Tex?
And if I am damp beneath these clothes
Then it’s my own blood and sweat from defeating you,
As there WILL BE no prisoners

I will triumph over any gradient you throw at me
I will cruise down in 3rd gear at the front, 9 back
Laughing aloud, viciously

I will pedal every last metre over you
And when you put another climb in my way,
I’ll put this bike in 2-2 and I will rise up,
I will stand up and taunt you as I power this heavy vehicle,
Swinging side to side over your tarmac face.

And you will cry with every turn of my pedals,
For I do not use clips, I do not pedal smoothly
I jab my feet down on you with every extension
Of these pistons some call legs.

Cry! Go on, cry more, let it rain!
For you underestimate my arsenal; fool!
Can’t you see this is a Long Haul Trucker,
Don’t you know I ate a whole baguette filled with Belgian cheese
And two jumbo chocolate éclairs for lunch?
And a four-egg omelette for breakfast!
I have more calories to burn than a nuclear power plant
My engine room of a stomach is working to full capacity.

Don’t you know I have infiltrated you?
See, I sleep in your woods,
I drink from your rivers
And I SHIT in your fields!
There is nothing I don’t know of you.

And you can try to confuse me and break my spirit with inconsistent sign-posting;
Belgium, France, Belgium again and finally Luxembourg
They all do it differently.
But I have a compass and, more importantly, a sweet tooth for success,
And it’s just over there, over that hill!

And you weren’t expecting my allies to be so numerous,
For every person who honks or shouts at me doesn’t know I don’t speak French, German of Flemish
This leaves me no option but to assume they are all cheering me on.
And onwards I will go.

You try and trick me with your signs of ‘70’ and ‘90’
“This road’s not for cyclists” you force into my mind
But then, after 110km; a cycle lane!
They’ve drawn a cycle lane on your pretty face
And even had the audacity to paint it blue; the insult! Hah!

You send motorbikes racing past at 120KM/H
“They’ll be in Luxembourg in just one hour” you sneer
“You should be demoralised, you’re on a bicycle doing 8KM/H
Up a hill with no end in sight, you’ve still got HOURS to go”!
Yes they’ll be there in an hour
But they’ll never know the feeling I know as I glide down every hill joyously,
In all the glory earned reaching the top.

And to every kid I pass on the side of the road I want to shout
“Kid, do whatever you want in life, just make sure you achieve,
‘cause when you achieve you feel like this”!
And then I shoot past him as I break the sound barrier speed limit
Preparing to slay another hill.

And then before you know it,
You’ve spent so much time thinking about how to slay a hill
That you’ve arrived at your destination.
And that is how it’s done.


  1. Just brill, Jude . . . well done, you are doing great and I am just envious that I don't have the balls to do something like it (but less energetic of course)- what power, what freedom. Still, may catch up on that Turkish beach - you never know . . . missing you too xxx

  2. To quote our esteemed captain - "different class!". If ever a writer deserved a greater readership, then it is this one. Is there more where this came from?

  3. Jude, as always - you managed to ease my tense expression with a big smile. I love some of the things you have written, especially about the natives cheering you on!!!
    Keep on trucking my worthy Team Shabba buddy, we are all behind you and VERY proud x x x x x