IN SEARCH OF THE INFINITE

Long distance cyclocross riding draws on several things. The quest for (virtually) unrestricted adventure (in comparison to road riding at least), developing skills and opening up a mind-set that induces an appreciation of the here and now leaving behind the usual crisis of identity and the every day.

Our landscape is the English Downland, East Sussex. Our small area of suffocating green abruptly cut at the glistening white chalk cliffs – the Seven Sisters – edging the land at the eastern sea, through the forest, to the “two kings – the Devine Twins – [between] this great parliament of hills [of] Firle Beacon and Windover Hill”1 and back again, scratching serpentine patterns up and down the side of the steep northern scarp, tracing the fissure of Bostals, of the Downs as we go.

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It doesn’t mean all that much. It doesn’t have to. We just find ourselves there, a period of time not hunched over the stresses of this compulsive life. Revelry of senses and feeling pouring over maps to find names and places steeped in history long forgotten; Frog Firle, Five Lord’s Burgh, the Roman road called Rabbits’ Walk, the cross ways at Poverty Bottom, and the ‘Piccadilly of the Downs’ – 6 ancient Celtic and Roman highways – crisscrossing the bluff of Windover Hill.

I miss it terribly; my Cyclocross bike has been hanging up for a while now, ever since an incident on a rocky descent somewhere in the weald, on a Wealden Dome adventure, with Jim Clarkson. I will leave Jim to describe what the Wealden Dome has to offer another time.

Long distance Cyclocross is more than just an exercise in narcissism and pointlessness. There is, in fact, a search for the broken link between mankind and the hills, a search for the infinite – as you stop to look over Tenantry Ground from Windover Hill you may just find it.

1From English Downland  by H. J. Massingham. July 1936

Further Works

SECTION 25 – Looking From A Hilltop