Going for a short afternoon walk and for the first time in a long time it isn’t laps of Tempelhofer Feld. along Via Pennino, Contrada Santa Croce, and Via Campoluongo. Olive trees ripe and ready for harvest, grape vines mostly already harvested (and currently the must is being siphoned next door), do not drink the water from the fountain, yes those cactus fruits are edible, and I could never get tired of this view.
Evening stroll around Bonnie’s Italian countryside
villa “Not a villa” looks like at least villa-adjacent to my bogan eyes. I thought the sun and light was going to stay grotty and not put on any show, and then, surprise! Storm over Taburno massif, setting sun hitting the tuff of the old work shed, Ginger the dog posing, chooks also posing, a rainbow, cactus, and four of the five dogs allowing me a group portrait. My FujiFilm X-T4 is finally getting a workout.
Thursday stroll through Italian countryside to the nearby town of Sant’Agata de’Goti. Which is half on a cliff over a gorge and there’s a plaque commemorating two women who fell in love and painted frescos together (or something). It’s all ridiculously beautiful and coffee pasta wine is apparently all I want.
Five dogs, seven cats, two ducks, a lot of chickens, heaps of olive trees, heaps of grapevines, fig, apricot, apple, persimmon, kaki trees, high hills and low mountains all round, old castles, churches, villas all over. Storms when I arrived and storms every day and night since. I’m sleeping so good.
A couple of months ago Bonnie said, “Come to Napoli!” Wednesday, my first time flying since 2019, first time out of Berlin since Miss Rona arrived (very masked and all for the whole trip), first time in Italy since 2014, I arrived in Napoli. And damn I forgot how much I love flying. The takeoff, the landing (it was a bumpy one), the hours above the clouds where the sky is a much darker blue.
The trees along the southern perimeter road which I know so well. I haven’t sat under all of them only because I have my favourites.
This storm line slipped to the south-west of Tempelhofer Feld. The next one to the north-east. Threading the sunny needle between downpours all afternoon.
The best sound is after the sharp right at Aremberg, under the bridge at the start of Fuchsröhre and all the way down to the bottom of the Nordschleife at Breidscheid, engines and turbos spooled up and redlining. Better than the long straight of Döttinger-Höhe. That corner is where the Nürburgring starts for me, into the forest and a tight, narrow winding road with no runoff that goes on and on. I feel the velocity and get buffeted by braking and acceleration just watching laps. And the racing. All that plus terrifying high-speed passes, weather that changes in five minutes and across the 24 kilometre track. My safe space is 250 km/h down the fox hole at 24 Hour Nürburgring.
I would have watched it all night, but like last year it got red-flagged. Fog and rain and not the kind of visibility for maximum hoonage. 24 hours turned into a 3–hour sprint. And the two commentators living their best bogan uncle selves. Something about Scandinavian Flick, keto diet, taking the apex with the shopping trolley, beer bottles at the back balancing out the weight, I don’t believe you were going to the fruit and veggies, it’s beer and chips for you, broken struts, broken steering racks, making the straight race line between spun–out Audi and Armco on slippery wet grass, cutting and shaving tread into slicks to make one last set of tires.
I love the sound and noise and velocity and can smell the engines and brake pads and metal and fluids and hear the ratchets and air guns and feel the crew lying on their backs contorting themselves into the machinery and the whole process of attrition, people and engineering being worn down over those long high-speed hours, this is art.
Waiting in the rain for the M41 bus last Tuesday, one of my favourite libraries behind me, Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek. Co-designed by Fritz Bornemann, who also did Deutsche Oper, Museumszentrum Berlin-Dahlem, the Berlin-Wedding Rathaus extension, and other bits of Berlin architecture I have a thing for.
Finishing the year and starting the year doing the work.
2018, I wore a heart rate monitor for all my training, riding, climbing, yoga, whatever. It felt a bit much. 2019, I stuck to riding only. All of which I keep notes of in a training diary in my calendar, ’cos I’m like that. So, 121 rides last year, and 150+ ‘yoga’ (core, strength, stretching, body work type, as well as actual yoga). Less riding than 2018, fewer long rides, virtually no climbing, and other year without doing a ballet or any kind of dance class in a studio, in front of a mirror.
Interesting stuff: The month of May, with almost no going into the red, and plenty of green and blue zones, that was Ramadan. The hole with nothing in it, June and July, that was me having my face peeled off in Spain. The first big ride, in October, was the Women’s 100, and the second was riding the Berliner Mauerweg on Tag der Deutschen Einheit. In retrospect, I can already see in my gappy training that chronic fatigue from a year of over-intensity and stress (surgery was only a part of it) was getting to me, November and half of December is that burnout.
Bike is currently in need of complete rebuild and new components, most of my cycling gear is similarly needing to be retired, but whatever. I keep riding. Every ride has had something in it for me, and it’s been so, so good for my mental and emotional health, as well as keeping my physicality ticking over. And it’s winter, a broken, very much not cold and snowless winter, barely ever below zero, but even that, riding in the cold, wet, dark grot makes me smile.