’Cos I’m mad slow these days when it comes to blogging, this is from September 29th at the south-west end of the perimeter road where it joins onto the square-paved area I think was used for parking planes. I needed a sitdown (thx chronic fatigue or whatever’s been non-consensually buttfucking me for the last two months) and “Ooo! isn’t the sky big as!” Photo obviously doesn’t do it justice but, too big to see all at once, and, so big I feel like I’m falling up into it, is the kind of massiveness which is usually reserved for deserts and the outback.
And separately, yeah, I do have other things I would blog about besides endless photos out at Tempelhofer Feld, but I’m tired and quite a bit can’t be fucked.
It’s autumn and that means cyclocross! Bashing around Belgian farmland in the rain and mud and sand and snow in generally shite, “Why the fuck would you?” conditions.
Paris fucking Roubaix!
In autumn! Thanks, incredibly poorly managed and politicised pandemic response and incredibly selfish wankers.
Outside of cyclocross, it’s probably my favourite race? First equal with Strade Bianche Rosa, especially when it’s raining. Anything cobbles and / or hosed with mud is my safe space.
And this year, for the first time in the 118 races since 1896 when it was first run, there’s a women’s race! Fucking progress right there, eh! And it was raining buckets and blowing a gale and those 29km of cobbles were muddy and grotty and slippery and terrifying and the riders hurled themselves over them, crashed, got up, did it again. Best 3 hours on a Saturday arvo in a looooong time.
Yaaah, but. The ASO, who organised this, have had an equally long time to pull their white dude fingers out and make it happen. They didn’t. They run the biggest stage races in the world including Tour de France, Vuelta a España, as well as a heap of those hardcore one day races like Liège–Bastogne–Liège and La Flèche Wallonne. Their equivalent women’s races to those big tours are 1-day patronising yawns.
Could they come up with the same 91,000€ prize money for women’s winner as the men’s? How about 7,005€? What about smashing the 5-star cobbles of Trouée d’Arenberg? The women started just next door in Denian. Also nah. Superficially the ASO had valid reasons. Normally the men have done 100km of riding and a bunch of cobbles before barrelling at 60+km/h into the trench, which ‘sorts the peloton out a bit’. Obviously modifying the women’s course so they had some cobbles first was beyond everyone’s capabilities.
And then there’s the M-word. Paris-Roubaix is a Monument. That means it’s one of the five, 250+km 1-day races. It’s also one of the four Cobbled Classics, which are similar lengths plus, obviously, cobbles. The women’s Paris-Roubaix was a quick 115.6km, done and dusted (or jet-washed if you’re Sarah Roy) in 3 hours. None of that 6 hours in the saddle stuff for whatever the ASO thinks women riders are. It’s like back when teh menz thought that if women ran a marathon their uteruses would fall out or something.
And finally (not really but I wanna watch Legends of Tomorrow), there’s the live coverage. Or absence of the first 60km or so. Which is pretty typical. The EWS Enduro World Series this year reliably missed getting the women’s runs because “something something crew hadn’t set up something,” and that’s the top-level competition. There are more men’s races and more actual racing time shown with live or delayed coverage. The stories men tell about men racing are nuanced and full of drama and emotion and narrative arcs and character growth and are accompanied with equally dramatic images and video. Men simply care more about other men. And yes, those men, they are white.
Yah anyway, here’s Sarah Roy shredding on those cobbles.
From my Sunday wander, where I also saw the DVOR, a Kestrel or Hawk or something, which I’ve seen and heard a couple of times before, and this time followed me to my usual southern hangout area. Also might have found a spot where they did a murder, all feathers and bones in a little pile. And found the sheep! In the bird sanctuary. The birds are well stealthy hiding in the grass.
Seen on Columbiadamm yesterday on the way for my daily-ish stroll around Tempelhofer Feld. Madness. Iridescent ultramarine with airbrush ghost flames spewing off the front wheel arches all the way to that tight spoiler! Those chrome rims! That body kit referencing the 2001 Opel Astra OPC X-Treme prototype! (Shoulda been xXx-Treme. also Vin Diesel approves.) It’s got Color Concept and Nightmare Custom decals on the back wheel arch, who might be responsible for this absolute delight of an early-’00s import tuner scene whip, but no real trace of either in the internet. Possibly my fave piece of hoonage in Berlin? I’d steal it. “See man driving a German Whip.”
Speaking of walking instead of riding, I walked my bike (on its autumn cyclocross tires and wheels with the very loud freehub) to Tempelhofer Feld yesterday, with snacks (flatbread with yoghourt harissa, duqqa, and parsley) and a book for some quality putting in the steps and lazing under a tree time.
I went to where Aisha and Arwa hang out (that’s a novel reference), south side under the trees and lucky me found a tree I could lean against. This photo’s from earlier in the week when I also went there and walked a blister into my left heel, but it captures the autumn mood when the sun’s lower and it’s the last days of heat and blue sky.
Seen on Framstraße, Neukölln. Entirely for the green. Truth I am not much into German autos post the boxy tight era, buuuut … that green. In the pushing-30° of a warm and grotty Berlin summer … ok if it was mine, I’d swap out those rims, but that green? I’d have the brake rotors painted the same colour. “Guys better show respect if they see man pullin up in a TT”
Seen off Sonnenallee, repping late–’90s / early–‘00s JDM import culture with those decals on the C-pillar and that very German tuner hoonage paint job. Especially love the Autobahn + Sound System sticker on the window and the acid green disc brakes behind the TEC GT6 Evo rims. “See man driving a German Whip.”
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.
This is the cutest four wheels ever. Plus rotational symmetry! 10/10 would hoon its tiny electric heart. Obvz it needs alloy monoblock rims, disc brakes, and a tiny bit of tuck and stance. But still, how fucking cute?