Sunday, August 11, 2013

An Old Pleasurable Friend: La volupté

The road is endless.
photo Cyclingart






I rediscovered an old friend...

Yesterday morning, under threatening skies I decided to ride out east with my goal of riding up Burnaby Mountain. I haven't even tried going up that mountain since April and while it's not incredibly difficult (elevation 1214 ft) it is challenging to even the fittest. No, it's far from the torment of Mt. Seymour. It's gradually climb masks it's difficulty. I was more than determined to conquer it and on my way in Burnaby I met Hans.

I bumped into him as he was returning from his journey up the mountain and I was on my way up. It was a good time to reconnect. Good to see him wearing the full kit from Road Holland. In fact, I had on my new Hilversum jersey -  I had a feeling that it was going to be humid on the climb, I was ready. I wished Hans a good ride and I proceeded towards my challenge.

I'm not a climber. Better yet, I enjoy climbing. So, my incentive is to do the best I can when the road goes up. The first thing I notice, on Burnaby Mountain Pkwy, is the ramp starts, long and gradually. That's when it started to rain and I thought, 'Please not on my way down.' The rain was bliss, cooling as I got into the rhythm of my breathing and perspiration. It added to the delight of riding, I almost forgotten the pain of climbing and got on with the pleasure of cycling. How wonderfully wicked climbing feels staring my old friends; pleasure and pain.

I'm reminded of the writer, Jean Bobet (brother of the famous Louison) and his definition on La volupté...


The voluptuous pleasure that cycling can give you is delicate, intimate and ephemeral. It arrives, it takes hold of you, sweeps you up and then leaves you again. It is for you alone. It is a combination of speed and ease, force and grace. It is pure happiness.


If I had a French expression to describe my riding experience then La volupté would be it.


Jean Bobet.. la volupté.
Paris-Nice, 1955.



Reaching the top is a moment of triumph and rest. The rain is momentarily and soon stops. I got off my bike to sit and enjoy the view and contemplate. The descent is gentle and a breeze. I remember the speed whistling in my ears as the trees whiz by. My volupté is complete.



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