Allow me to be the first to welcome myself to England. Welcome to England, Ted! Or as the locals say, “Welcome to England, Ted!” Thanks England, it’s a pleasure to be here. That is to say, living in a foreign country where the language is not my native tongue, it’s a treat to have this weekend reprieve to speak English.
I’ve trekked here, clear ‘cross the English Channel and even circumnavigated through the UK border patrol (which I will congratulate them on being even more cut-throat than the nearly impenetrable American border). That adventure was immediately followed by a four hour car ride and arrival to the gentrified town of Bristol. When I was a wee tyke, my Mom used to sing the song, “…the kids in Bristol are sharp as a pistol, when they do the Bristol stomp!” Mom is so hip; a quick Google search has just informed me that those lyrics are from the Dovells’ 1961 hit Bristol Stomp.
Rather than fifty year old pop hits, more apt subject matter is why am I here? This glass protected signage should clear things up.
Red Bull – in this instance not presented by Tim Johnson – is putting on this head-to-head street sprints up a popular downtown shopping hill, Park Street. Called “Hill Chasers“, hopefully as a participant you’re not chasing anyone when you cross the line. Cause then you’re in second place and then you’re just going home. Having honed my diesel engine over the past four years by pulling the peloton along for hours on end, I should point out that a 170 meter hill climb is just… comical. But I’m here to make the most of it and drink a small boat load of Red Bull, so let’s go!
A view from the top of Park Street:
And a view from the bottom:
Naturally, I’ll @Strava the heck out of it when it’s all said and done, so be sure to stay tuned.
Witnessing today’s youth stomping gleefully through the street of Bristol has somehow eluded me in my brief 20 hours here, I did however manage a scenic morning ride, which segued directly into a very British wintery, pissing rain ride. Complete with a ferocious wind coming off the north Atlantic to the left (assuming you operate from cardinal directions and always face north, like I do), I felt like quite the local contending with these perfectly normal UK’ian conditions. Anything less would have been inhospitable.
This photo was enhanced for extra drama. That on the horizon is called the sun, which is going in the opposite direction. Rain is fast approaching.
Here I am thinking that I’m in England but then it dawns on me that I could very well be in the Belgian Ardennes. Cow paths no more than the width of one car, massive expanses of farm lands, some rolling hills intertwined with sharp kinks in the geography, and “mud” – or what comes from the hind end of an animal and a normal person would call poo.
Despite its rain, England is an exceedingly beautiful country and I can’t help but feel like I’m engulfed by an erudite culture. Tartans and lots of plaid, stone and brick building aplenty, hunting dogs – yup seriously, horses everywhere, rugby and polo fields aplenty, for some reason large geese make me think of highbrow folk, people drinking “a spot of tea”, boarding schools atop virtually every hill I rode over, and dozens of other details both intricate and obtuse that makes me feel like these people is wicked smart.
And on that scholarly note, I need to go ride my bike up a hill.