by Tom Southam | 28/08/09
I think summer ended today. It’s a funny thing but I get a feeling once a year when I realise summer is slipping away and with it goes another racing season. It’s not a date or time thing, it’s not a temperature thing or a daylight thing. It’s just a change I think, in myself, in direction, in what I am doing. Training in autumn is its own unique challenge and one has to be ready for it.
I remember once, the last day of one of the best summers of my life, I hadn’t seen it coming but it was so pronounced when it did. I was sat outside a friend’s Tuscan villa in what must have almost been September. It was still warm enough to be sat outside drinking defrosting vodka in a t-shirt at half ten or so, just like any of those other nights that had seemed so abundant. But then a wind crept in, the girls put tops on or huddled under shawls and even I, after a while had to go inside and steal a jumper. I remember thinking that one season had just ended there and then and I had better gear up for the next.
It’s still pretty mild out but I won’t even consider a training ride without leg warmers from now on, the layers are going to increase day by day from here. A chilly day is no longer just a bad day it’s a sign of what’s coming. What’s more, the racing calendar drops sharply off at this time of year, people start mentioning things like ‘cross’, ‘end of the season’ and ‘holiday’. People’s minds are already switched into looking at how they are going to be that 5% better next year. The guys who actually go training at this time of year are an elite few. Most riders just simply don’t have the racing to need to, or the inclination.
All that’s left really in terms of UK racing is the Tour of Britain, which co-incidentally for those that do it, is pretty much the biggest race on our calendar. Which means it demands the most attention and focus of the whole year. So while the green leaves start to yawn and look at their watch, there has never been a more important time for some fine, fine tunes to take one through the end of summer and into the autumn racing calendar with light legs and a fresh mind.
Thought I’d kick off with the Ryan Adams track Nuclear, which opens with the line. “This, is where the summer ends”, perfect.
To be honest I’ve lost a lot of love for Ben Harper over the last few years, but with his new band Relentless 7 in tow, he has knocked out a pretty good new record. I’ll take Fly One Time from that.
As the evenings draw in and less of them can be spent at the Blue Flame, it’s good to get some nice indoor-evening appreciation songs on, I like ‘em Fat like that (which I discovered on Garry Beckett’s massage table) by Louis Jordan just floats perfectly for that.
Sticking with that kind of vibe, Stone Cold Dead In De Market by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan is so cool; I think the lyric is brilliant and hilariously dark.
The Clash of course did a great version of Junco Partner (also covered by Jordan) on my favourite Clash album Sandinista!
This handily leads me on to the fact that there are two stages of the Tour of Britain that pass by Joe Strummer’s home in Somerset, Mega Bottle Ride is possibly the best song ever written to mention I’ll minster.
Devon’s biggest band would probably be Muse. But I don’t like them at all. A song I do really like at the moment is Lua by Bright Eyes. I personally think Conor Oberst lost it a long time ago, at about the time this album came out. But this tune is still just brilliant.
If we’re already in Devon we may as well go to a proper county and slip south to Cornwall. I remember the very first time I was down to ride the road worlds (Verona 1999), it was the first time I had ever had to push through training through September into October and I did it to this, Reef, Sweety.
Still can’t quite figure Scarlett Johansson’s musical output out, but the upcoming album with Pete Yorn sounds just fine to me, Relator is first from that.
Great track from one of my favourite films that I recently had the pleasure of trying to describe to someone, if you’ve seen the film you’ll know how interesting this is to do, Bec) Everybody’s gotta learn sometimes.
Of course there is a whole world of bike races going on out there, in fact there is a three week Tour just about to kick off in Spain, so for Charly Wegelius, who is riding his third grand tour of the year and the 13th of his career. Prizefighter by The Eels. Good choice man.
Of course I couldn’t go without mentioning Snudmorf’s wonderful cover of Knocking on heaven’s door. Sounds like you’re hearing it from the other end of a telephone line. Magic.