While I had my arm in a cast I stopped shaving as it was too difficult. I’ve had the cast off a couple of weeks now….arm getting back to normal. Now, do I shave or not….until spring? Pendant que j’avais le bras dans le plâtre, j’ai arrêté de me raser car c’était trop difficile. Le plâtre a été retiré il y a quelques semaines maintenant… le bras revient à la normale. Maintenant, est-ce que je me rase ou pas… jusqu’au printemps ? #hannahats
If I should die, think only this of me; That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is for ever England. There shall be In that rich earth a richer dust concealed; A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, A body of England’s breathing English air, Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away, A pulse in the eternal mind, no less Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given; Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. Rupert Brooke. 1887 – 1915
Here’s the video showing how beautiful this river is….
“Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix” est situé à 200m du bourg de St-Auvent, au point le plus pittoresque de la rivière (la Gorre), dont le lit est encombré de rochers qui entraînent la formation de nombreux rapides ainsi que de plusieurs îles boisées. Communément appelé “le petit Lourdes en Limousin”, ce vaste domaine se caractérise par les nombreuses découvertes culturelles et religieuses que l’on peut y faire : la Grotte, réplique de celle de Lourdes, l’Oratoire, situé sur la colline (Mont des Béatitudes), l’oratoire de Notre-Dame de Potmain, le chemin de crois, la chapelle Notre Dame de la Paix, l’abri des pèlerins, diverses statue de Sainte Bernadette, Notre Dame de Fatima…etc. Cet édifice religieux et site naturel est un havre de paix, propice au recueillement.
“Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix” is located 200m from the town of St-Auvent, at the most picturesque point of the river (the Gorre), whose bed is cluttered with rocks which lead to the formation of numerous rapids as well as than several wooded islands. Commonly called “little Lourdes in Limousin”, this vast area is characterized by the many cultural and religious discoveries that can be made there: the Grotto, a replica of that of Lourdes, the Oratory, located on the hill (Mont des Beatitudes), the oratory of Our Lady of Potmain, the Way of the Cross, the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace, the shelter for pilgrims, various statues of Saint Bernadette, Our Lady of Fatima…etc. This religious building and natural site is a haven of peace, conducive to contemplation and meditation.
Listening is the number one thing – taking your attention away from yourself.
In one way it was good to get back to practicing and being in my own head during the Covid lockdown. But when you’re playing with a band, that’s not what you’re supposed to be doing.
You need to have your attention away from yourself. I don’t want to be thinking about what I’m doing. I want to be as focused as I can be on the people around me.
It helps me so much to just look at the other people in the band. It sort of opens everything up. It’s such a simple thing but it really helps the music for me.
Listening is such a huge thing. It sounds simple, but it’s a lifelong struggle to really, really listen.
2. Don’t Judge Yourself
What we perceive we’re doing when we play often has hardly anything to do with what’s coming out the front.
At the time you might think, This is the most badass shit I’ve ever played in my life! And then you listen to a recording and go, “What was I thinking?”
Or, you could be having some crisis in your head like, I just can’t play anything! But when you listen back it’s beautifully formed.
All that stuff in your head – you have to shut it down. The idea is to get rid of all that and just be immersed in the music.
Try not to attach yourself to whatever just happened. You have to be constantly shedding off the idea it was good or bad.
3. Be Present If you have a really great night, like you’re all high off the gig, you can’t think, That was so great – let’s do that again at the next gig.
The reason it was great is because you were all in the moment and you were responding to whatever was going on around you.
You just have to be as present as you can at all times. It’s the most amazing thing when the whole band is in the moment. It’s like you’re not thinking.
Gigs can be completely different to what you expect, no matter what you do before to prepare.
You get there and there’s like a loud refrigerator motor going over here and a bunch of people yelling over there or whatever – just nothing like what you had been planning for.
But you can’t hold on to what you hoped it would be. It’s about acceptance and letting go. You just have to be there, present.
4. Embrace Mistakes
Mistakes are awesome. If you don’t freak out.
Like if you’re going for something and you mess it up, maybe the tendency is to think, Oh shit! I fucked it up! But again, it’s about listening.
If you listen to what it is, if you’re in the moment, it could be better than what you were trying to play.
If you make a mistake, what you play after it can make it sound right. If everyone in the band is in the zone – listening and trusting each other – it’s like you’re rescuing each other all the time.
It’s not supposed to be a contest. I’m really not into the whole ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ thing. I mean, let’s try to make something cool with what just happened.
5. Practice is Great (Up to a Point)
I used to think that if you practiced real hard you get to this place where everything is just great all the time. But it’s just not so. The joy is being in the process.
Anyone that says they’ve got it completely together is lying.
I’ve seen that mess with people. You can’t think, I’m going to practice and get to this certain point and then I’m going to do something. Because you’ll never get there.
You just have to go for it right now and do the best you can, and just keep on pushing ahead.
You can’t wait until you’ve finished something before you get to the music.
6. Don’t Think for Others
You’re the only one who truly knows how successful you are.
If you’re worried about what somebody else is going to think it’s just another thing that gets in the way of doing it. Because you’re never going to know what the audience is hearing.
For me, the most honest way to perform is to think, I love this and I’m going to do it as best I can.
If I’m feeling some kind of joy in what I’m doing, then hopefully the audience is going to hear that and get off on it. And if they don’t hear it, well there’s nothing I can do about that.
I’m lucky. I’ve had people listen to me play. But if I was just trying to figure out what they wanted to hear I’d be chasing around forever.
7. Be Yourself I definitely spent time early on trying to be cool. Like maybe there would be a song I liked but I thought it was kind of corny, so I didn’t want people to know I really liked it. I wanted people to think I was this super hip blues guy or something.
But as time went by, I realized I had to be honest about who I am and where I came from.
I can’t take on the persona of someone else. I wasn’t a jazz guy that grew up in the ‘30s and ‘40s; I grew up in Denver in the ‘50s and ‘60s. That’s my experience.
Being honest with your own experience is going to make things way stronger. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and where you come from.
Sometimes it’s scary to put yourself out there, but try to overcome that and don’t be afraid to be you.
8. Destroy Competition
This whole idea that music is about competition – as if someone is better than someone else, or this instrument is harder than that one, like what are you talking about?!
I mean it doesn’t make sense. I love what John Andrew Rice, one of the founders of Black Mountain College, said:
“There are things learned through observation that cannot be learned any other way. Whatever cannot be expressed in words cannot be learned through words…
“The worthwhile struggle is the interior one, not against one’s fellows but against one’s ignorance and clumsiness.”
Instead of trying to keep score we should just be helping each other. We know how successful we are with trying to do what we’re trying to do. And that’s enough to worry about. We don’t have to be putting that on somebody else.
John Andrew Rice thought there shouldn’t be a winner and a loser in a debate – he believed it was about finding the truth, as opposed to being a contest. That’s how I feel about music. Let’s try to get together and make something good. It’s not a competition.
9. Take Chances
The music gets way higher when everyone in a band feels safe that they can take a chance. It’s a lot better to just go for it than be thinking, I better not try that because I might mess it up.
It might be good or bad, but that’s how you learn. It’s the only way to move ahead.
Skill is great, but there has to be some sort of story behind it. All this technical stuff is nothing if you’re not saying anything with it.
It’s about showing who you are – that’s all you can do, I guess. And that’s often not about what you learned in a book.
10. Learn to Forget I know we need to practice our instruments, but you need to be able to shake that off when you’re really trying to play the music.
I’m in a privileged position because I have a lot of gigs, but if I practice all day and have all that stuff in my head later on at the gig it can be detrimental.
Sometimes, you’ll find there’s stuff you can do in practice that you can’t seem to bring into another scenario. You want to take it with you all the time, but it just doesn’t work that way.
When you’re on stage you’re not in your own living room, y’know?
We have to practice and learn things. If I’m learning a song, I want to get the song so deep down inside me that I’m not thinking about mathematics or numbers – that place where it becomes automatic. Like if you’re riding a bike, you’re making a million calculations but you’re not thinking about it.
Sonny Rollins (one of my biggest heroes) said that music is happening too fast to be thinking about it while you’re playing.
I’ve fallen in love with the musc of Burt Bacharach, and one of my absolute favourites….Alfie. I’m trying to learn it. Eventually I hope to work up a solo arrangement. That could take some time. Here’s what I have so far…..I hope you like it.
I’ve been collecting inspirational quotes to keep in mind this year. I’m gonna share some of my favourites….. “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” – That quote by the author Robin Sharma suggests that change is not only inevitable but that it’s necessary for a good life. A useful thought this time of year.
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein.
Victoria Pendleton on mental preparation says: “It’s a lifelong process, just as physical training is. It becomes a lot easier, the more you practise it.”
As I go into a ‘dry’ January, I’ll leave you with three thoughts from Mike Lake that I hope will inspire some of your decisions as you ease into 2022:
Find the courage to venture outside of your current comfort zone. Pick those opportunities well.
Declare the end of doing the same things over and over expecting different results. And that includes how you practice and play your instrument!
Consider the valuable energy wasted over resisting change. What are you missing while you spend time and energy fighting change rather than being open to embracing the opportunities it may bring to you?
I wish you all a fabulous 2022. May it be your best year ever.
If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke. 1887 – 1915
I’ve been reading a number of newbie roadie threads about handlebars positions, aching hands, fear of the drops, and so on. It got me thinking about the way I use my drops, and I decided to try and share this with you. It is in no way the right or wrong way to use them, and I’m sure there are other ways. I hope my post might help you.
Firstly, being a veteran, and a bit stiff, I use very shallow drops (like a lot of the TDF riders do).
I use 8 different hand positions as follows……
Right on the tops – For long seated climbs, or sitting up in the buch. For easy riding. Though I sometimes ride hard in this position, especially with a tailwind.
On the tops – A sort of ‘ready’ position where I can relax but quickly and easily more to a more serious position.
On the corners – I use this postion a lot in a bunch. When riding close. It’s easy to ‘touch’ other riders from this position. They like it! ? Slide forward and you’re on the hoods.
Touching the hoods – I use this position a lot when training. It’s a little lower and a good ‘working’ postion. Can be used standing.
On the hoods – Fully on the hoods. I can brake from here. A good position if you are riding with riders you are not sure of. Or communting in heavy traffic. Low enough to go fast, high enough to see ahead. Can be used standing.
On the hoods top – when the pace is high I’ll ride here. It allows you to get down and suffer.
On the drops/brakes – Going fast and needing to brake. Voila! Can be used standing.
On the drops – Going fast on my own, or in a small group, or if it’s raining and windy. On the drops. Bend elbows and grimmace for better effect. Also used for ‘commited’ sprinting. Can be used standing.
FWIW – I’ve been riding on the road since the early 80s. I was schooled in road riding by scousers, mostly from the Liverpool Century Road Club. Happy days!