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Machine Head

I bought an album last week, the old school way - a walk to the local music store, a rummage through the neatly sorted stacks of CDs and an almost over excited skip to the till to pay for it in one go. To be honest I was a little nervous as I popped it in the CD player. I'd first head the band about 27 years ago when everyone was young. the band were full of vim and venom, from the mean street shouting about inustice and all that sort of thing and I was an impressionable teenager whose ears weren't quite ready for the onslaught offered up within the first minute of the first track "Davidian". I was so shocked and amazed at the time that I (honestly) stopped the tape (pre CDs, post vinyl days) and sat in my room wondering what the hell had just happened.

Would this be as exciting as the first time? Had they got old like me? I've bought a lot of albums since "Burn my eyes" and a lot of them have been very aggressive, loud and intense, could the old guys still shock and delight me in equal measure? Well, frankly, yes. It was every bit as awesome as I'd hoped (for reference, they've released lots of albums i the meantime, but I'd not really been paying much attention). The stomach punch sharp riffs, machine gun speed, flowing yet staccato rhythms were as harsh and fabulously shocking as I'd hoped, even the high pitched, discordant harmonics that really caught my ear all those years ago were back in glorious form. I didn't pause it after the first minute, but I did allow myself a little, mental 'devil horns' of appreciation. But there was more, with age seemed to have come some freedom - this was a concept album rather than a political statement and it was quite obvious that they were loving every second of playing it. Harking back to their roots but without the stress. Glorious. This afternoon I lined up for the first CX race (not including playing out at summer cross) of my season. A similar sort of nervousness lingered. Would this (would I) be as good as last time? I was getting to race with the seniors and juniors again (albeit giving all the little 'uns a 1 minute head start) so I was getting to relive my youth a bit - in race length if nothing else. I'd promised myself 'no stress' this season, just turn up and take the race as it comes, harking back to the old school days of racing, but you still want it to be (you still want to be) everything good you remember.

I needn't have worried. Cross is, still, boss. The stomach punch sharp gasps for breath from the gun to the finish line. Machine gun speed through the flowing corners (well, from my perspective, anyway, onlookers may have just seen a wheezing grey haired man wobbling round a park on a Sunday afternoon). It was as fabulously shocking to my legs and lungs as I'd hoped.

The lack of stress meant that even a poor start from the 2nd row didn't bother me or affect how I rode. I may have struggled somewhat getting through the tail end of the earlier race, seemingly losing more time than those ahead of me while overtaking the riders further back in the senior/junior races (and having to remind myself that I wasn't racing them, so I shouldn't be getting caught up in their battles), but that just gave me an excuse to thrash myself a bit harder whenever the course opened up in front of me. Putting staccato attacks in, keeping the race for 2nd and 3rd in sight (Matt Lawton having opened up a sizable gap in 1st place very quickly). Slowly eating into the gap whenever the opportunity arose by simply giving it absolutely everything I had. Vim and venom. With 3 laps to go I passed Phil, whose crank had come off (gutted for him) and with 2 to go had got onto the rear wheel of James. By the last lap I was ahead and, after several laps of giving me something extra to think about, the senior /junior riders we were overtaking gave me a break and I stomped across the line 4 seconds up, in a similar state to the teenage me after that first listen to the aforementioned album. Shocked, amazed and hungry for more :) Huge thanks to Lee at Advance Cycle Coaching for getting me 'pointy end' sharp so quickly and with plenty more to come...

(Thanks to Dave Haygarth for the pic)


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