Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Roubaix Every Day

I'm a big fan of the Spring Classics, those one-day races across the roughest roads in Belgium and France, the ones that thrash the taint ride out of the sports hardest men. These races are bit like the cycling equivalent of cage matches. And cage matches are awesome.

So, when I'm thrashing my own taint all over Boston, in my ten-year-old brain I'm racing a cobbled classic.

And then the other day I was riding away from home. I'd taken a few days off to rest a knee injury, and as my front wheel found it's first potholes and cracks and bumps, I felt a sharp pain in my wrist. Ow. It fucking hurt. Then I realized that it was more or less the same pain I always feel, just more intense.

My body is beaten. I'm not ten anymore. I'm thirty-seven.

And Boston is a bit like the road to Roubaix. No, there aren't long stretches of murderous cobbles, but there are so many streets that have been ripped up and patched and ripped up and patched and ripped up and patched, that the net effect if pretty close to the same.

I wrote in the spring about how some of Northern Europe's cobbles literally came to the New World, as ballast in the hulls of trade ships, and then, once unloaded on these shores, were used to pave our roads. So, the pavé of Belgium are also the pavé of Boston, even though, in most places, they've been paved over.

Still, riding Boston is like riding Roubaix every day. I feel it in my knees and ankles, in my wrists and neck and shoulders. In some very small way, I am one of the hard men of Flanders.

You know, in my mind.

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