Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Go Quietly

For some time now everyone has been telling me that I absolutely must see the 1952 film The Quiet Man. Apparently it's to do with Ireland, heavy on thatched cottage and bicycle content. And there is a redhead in it! And John Wayne! Oh my. But months passed into years and, philistine that I am, I still hadn't bothered to see the movie. So when I heard folks talking about a road trip to some special release premier of it in County Mayo this weekend, I thought - how perfect! - and decided to go.

Later I read the fine print, and discovered I had in fact signed up for a 300K brevet with Audax Ireland. Needless to say, it was LOLs all around! So... I guess I'll be taking my bike.

What makes me think I can ride a 300K brevet after barely a month of post-winter training, after having failed in my previous attempt at that distance last year, and after never having ridden in a timed event in Ireland before? Probably folly.

But in my defense, the organisers are not entirely blameless.

I give you Exhibit A:
"The Quiet Man is a relatively easy 300km featuring the best scenery in the West of Ireland."
Now, you and I both know that when randonneurs say "easy" what they really mean is "quite difficult indeed, but we like to pretend otherwise." In spite of this, my brain keeps connecting the words "easy" and "best scenery," bypassing logical circuits.

This effect is supplemented by Exhibit B:
this picture!

And finally, Exhibit C:
"Starting and finishing in Westport between Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay, the route takes in such delights as the Delphi Valley, Killary Harbour (where dolphins were spotted on the 2012 event), north Connemara, before travelling through the contrasting landscape of the “Plains of Mayo” and on to the north coast. On the way home, you’ll take in Ballycroy National Park, as well as countless lakes, mountains and salmon filled rivers. With a bit of luck you’ll see the sun set behind Achill or Clew Bay, before returning in time for a meal and a pint in one of Westport’s charming pubs."
Frolicking dolphins? Salmon filled rivers? Contrasting landscapes? The word "plains" with its suggestion of flat terrain? The mention of pubs, making it seem that one is likely to finish this ride before they all close? This is powerful propaganda.

So, what have I done to prepare for the Quiet Man, upon realising it was not a movie screening? Well, I  worked up to a couple of 60 mile rides, followed by a 96 mile ride, followed by a timed no-photos-allowed 120 mile ride with lotsa elevation gain. On days when I wasn't doing those, I did shorter rides involving hill climbs.

I also finally watched The Quiet Man. And okay, at the risk of angering fans, I just didn't find it that good of a film. Aside from the cloying music, the rather bland, I thought, performance from John Wayne, and Maureen O'Hara's over the top shtick as that '50s ideal of the Feisty, Perpetually Indignant Woman who goes around slapping men in the face and getting thrown on the bed for it, I had trouble believing that the main characters were attracted to one another. For all the talk of the great chemistry between Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne, I didn't see it here. No matter. The Quiet Man had some funny scenes, beautiful scenery, and, importantly, bicycles - my favourite being the tandem of the pedantic Protestant clergy couple.

And the Quiet Man 300K? You never know how these things will go. But one thing I can predict for sure: There will be bicycles there as well. It is coming up this weekend, so not much to do now but rest and wait, then pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, and pedal some more. As I watch Maureen O'Hara's thrashings on the screen, I picture myself at mile 150, in the dark, a hot mess, narrowing my eyes in anger at the fatigue that threatens my honour and hissing "How dare you!" before speeding off to finish the brevet with a flick of disheveled red curls. You know. Or something like that.

33 comments:

  1. Good luck. It's pretty inspiring scenery; at least you'll have that to look at.
    Following up on your Sleeve Boy post, it occurred to me that I do the same thing on long rides -- make up stories and things to amuse myself. However, in my case, mostly I make up jokes about recumbent riders (I have a friend to "rides" a recumbent). Same principle, I guess.
    Have a great time on the ride. I have found that after you do one long ride, succeed or fail, others become a lot easier, assuming nothing goes wrong with your bike.

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  2. I've cycled toured in Connemara and West Mayo. Great cycling country lots of flat terrain and not too much climbing. The scenery is indeed epic. The only drawback is that a lot of the countryside is devoid of cover and it can get very windy out there. If you get the right weather you will have a great time.

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  3. We want photos! Hopefully, you'll have time to stop and take a few. Sounds like a real adventure, but at least you have good gearing for those hills!

    Good luck!

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    1. Don't start taking photos unless you're well ahead of the controle times. Focus on completion. Looking at the route, and judging from what you've said about training, I don't think you'll have a problem (though that bit of fun between mile 80 and 90 gives "relatively easy" a new interpretation). But things can go wrong and you want to leave yourself time to recover.

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    2. Myself and I have already agreed that photo stops are out of the question on this brevet. My average rolling speeds are slower on Irish roads than they are on American roads, so I will need every scrap of time I can get if I want to finish. Later this summer, it would be nice to visit the West Coast in a more leisurely manner and photograph all the lovely spots to my heart's content.

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  4. The Quiet Man is the most sexist film you will ever see, but somehow survives in the affections of Irish and Irish American people despite that - or perhaps because of it.

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  5. Sounds horrendous! The only way I could tackle that would be with a Brompton and a bus pass! But best of luck, hope the weather's kind to you.

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  6. A no-photo ride is a tragedy! Learn to shoot while riding, or rig up something that takes random stills, please! There's an idea: a Mr. Lee CatCam for brevet riders looking to stay on schedule.

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  7. Bon chance and bon route on the 300km brevet.

    You can do it. Just think of it as 3 metrics or 9 20 mile rides. One down, only 8 to go. :o)

    This is where a $79 p&s in a bento box comes in handy: Ride by shootings!!!

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    1. 3 60s is the way I think of it. 9 20 mile rides somehow seems longer : )

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  8. This seems insane. I know several endurance athletes and they seem to share similar qualities. So, you're an endurance athlete in addition to scientist, artist, fiction writer, frame builder, and knitter?

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  9. The Quiet Man is also probably responsible for much of the stereotyping of the Irish as drunks and brawlers. I can't imagine why any respectable Irishman or woman would want to celebrate it. Except for the scenery. And Margaret O'Hara.

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    1. The Quiet Man drew upon tropes that were already a century old in 1952, at least in the US and Canada. It was probably pretty revolutionary that the characters were dealt with (and seen by the audience ) sympathetically.

      Have a great, revelatory brevet, Miss LB.

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  10. Killary, Ireland's only fjord apparently. Or so I learnt in history class. I guess that's what attracts the dolphins. It is nice round there.

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  11. Fisk Ellington Rutledge IIIMay 1, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    I know what you mean about John Wayne. He plays a type of male character that essentially has one mood. He needed to go psycho every now and then just to mix it up. He never really did. He did a pretty good Rooster Cogburn. But movies from that era in general are pretty boring except for the hard core film noir.

    Love the blog. I have a 30-year-old Bianchi and a brand new green Pashley Roadster Sovereign. Wife has a nice Electra.

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  12. Remembering the cause for abandoning your first brevet, have you changed the lights on your bike? Surely there will be a new challenge, but I'm curious to know if you've addressed the issue of riding after dark.

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    1. I won't be riding the same bike as I did on that brevet, so not the same lights either. But despite the slew of comments about lights on that post, I do not believe that either their brightness or angle were the problem. I think the best way to address riding in the dark this time is to make sure I don't ride alone (done).

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    2. Ride in the dark? You'll only need the lights for fog. You are far more ready than the last time. You'll finish this one well before sunset.

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    3. Not at my current rolling average I'm afraid. I am aiming for midnight, which would mean 3 hours in the dark.

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    4. Previous comment was intended as a vote of confidence. You will be rolling along with others rather than solo. That's always faster. You are approaching this as a good time on a bike rather than as an ordeal. Good times will make for a good time. Predictions about the future of course are not worth much. Best wishes.

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  13. Bugger watching "the Quiet Man". Typical 50s Hollywood schlock. Instead, go see "The Field" with Richard Harris, John Hurt and Tom Berenger. You'll understand more of Ireland and the Irish from that film than you would get from a university course of Irish sociology, and great scenery to boot.
    Oh, and enjoy the brevet. Take your rain gear...;)

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    1. Seen it. The theme of the tragic land dispute and the feel of all the characters locked in a dance of death in spite of themselves reminded me of Edna O'Brien's Wild Decembers.

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    2. Seen that. And Calvary. And Shadow Dancer. What else you got?

      I think viewers of my generation enjoy films like The Quiet Man for the kitsch factor. The cliches and sexism others have mentioned here are so over the top that they pass the point of criticism and attain a status of endearing quaintness, when viewed from the perceived safety of the presentday. That's my theory at least.

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  14. Bonne route! The scenery looks incredible; I hope the weather cooperates.

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  15. As I remember, you're last 300KM could have as well been held in the Congo in the summer. Hopefully it will be more temperate with favorable winds. You have good grounding and good judgement. I think you will achieve this time round!!

    vsk

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  16. Great post that inspires me for my 200K brevet in MN at the end of May!

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  17. Another entertaining post here. Great stuff. I love that movie for the humor and the scenery. And if I had to rank movie actresses on their beauty, she'd be way up there. Best of luck with the 300K. Ouch! Like Barry Fitzgerald's horse in the movie, I hope your bike knows to stop at a pub or two.

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  18. That Audax Ireland site you linked is pretty swell. Even though I think I live in one of the loveliest places in the world, I'm a sucker for dramatic shots and cheerful descriptions of other, far away places.

    The article about "Stepping up to 300k" was helpful too, not disconcertingly Gung-Ho like the "advice" one sometimes gets from people who think anyone can do it if they simply try, or the overwhelming detail from those who think it can only be done if approached like a military campaign.

    I've found a couple of 200Ks that are on weekends I can sneak off for this spring, maybe there's a 300 in the stars for this summer too. I'll be rooting for you and looking forward to hearing how it was for you...

    Spindizzy

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  19. My favourite part of the world and one of my least favourite films. One year we even stayed in a small cottage behind the Quiet Man bridge. It had snails in the shower and pieces of wet tissue paper providing ineffective insulation against the wind howling through the gaps in the walls. I tried to take a picture of the bridge, lost my footing, slipped and fell into the brook.

    The whole experience left me with an even deeper antipathy towards the film, which was the only DVD available in the cottage.

    Wonderful landscape and brilliant cycling country, though!

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  20. Is that you in the first photo, or Maureen O'Hara? ;)

    You must not get ahead of yourself, but you absolutely MUST acquire an Audax Ireland jersey – it's a glorious piece of kit, and it's in your colours! I suppose you have to earn it, morally if not actually, but you'll have earned it by Sunday, wait and see. You might be short of saddle time after such a miserable, wet and windy winter, but maybe that just means you're fresh. You're a brave soul, you have such spirit, I hope it goes well for you.

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