Poem 187 – The Zone

The zone.
Eyes fixed, focussed yet absent,
two metres from the pedals.
All else excluded.

Legs spin.
Driving mechanical motion,
mental metronomes
propelling forwards.

Time ceases.
Suspended, gathered for
one purpose; moment, man
and bike united.

one splintering thought invades.
Awareness shatters in
momentum broken.

Occasionally I discover the zone when cycling, a joyful but fragile place.

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Florian Kurrasch on Unsplash

Poem 184 – The Adventures Of Evel Knievel on a Road Bike

A life of neglect,
has wrinkled this skin
compounded by COVID
and war in Ukraine.

Shaken and stirred,
my body is bounced
from boulder to boulder,
more rumble than strip.

More crater than pothole,
Neil Armstrong’s at home here.
My limbs are disjointed,
my wheels are untrue.

How deep is that puddle?
How firm is that footing? Can
my padding take pummeling
much longer like this?

A crack in the cranks,
a snap of the shins,
I clasp on my cape
of the stars and stripes
and on the cusp of loud cursing
leap into the abyss…

As my training for the Ride London-Essex 100 continues, I’m becoming a little tired of the impact of the state of the roads on body and bike…

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Docob5 at English WikipediaW, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem 171 – The Longest Ride

My longest ride awaits.
The bike is set and shoes
await for me to slip
them on and clip them in.
They sit and beckon yet
I hesitate, it’s been
too long since I have pushed
myself this far. I wonder,
do I have the legs or will
they turn to futile mush,
betray me? Foolishly
I’ve shared my plans. The only
choice is suffering
embarrassment or pain.
Too late I speculate:
why do we test ourselves
like this? I sigh, reach out
and put them on and leave…

Today I’m killing two birds with one stone. I have a midday meeting in Cambridge and decided to use it as a training exercise ahead of the London-Essex 100 in May, and am cycling up and back. It’s just under 80 miles. It sounded fun when I first mentioned it. Today it feels a little daunting…
I’m raising funds for Parkinson’s UK – sponsor my London 100 efforts here: https://events.parkinsons.org.uk/fundraisers/benquant/ride-london-100

© Ben Quant 2023
Photo by Josh Nuttall on

Poem 158 – Le Vélo Villanelle

I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round
The mercury rises, up and up it goes
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

My eyes are vacant, focussed on the ground
I find my rhythm, legs begin to flow
I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round

Though station’ry, the passing miles confound
Monotony grasps and drags, the grinding grows
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

The tension hangs, a dark’ning electric cloud
My will is draining, boredom bites alone
I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round

Obsessing over every wayward sound
Mechanical stutters grating down below
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

No winner in this race, no victor crowned
All energy gone, I’m spent, yet no one knows
I pedal steadily, wheels go round and round
And booming in my head, my heart pounds loud

I’ve recently started training for the London-Essex 100, a 100 mile bike ride, to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK (you can sponsor me here), but the weather’s grim right now, and so I’ve been using an indoor turbo trainer. It’s really not the same… I finished this villanelle (no, not the assassin in Killing Eve) last night as another stab at rhyming in a formal form, but didn’t get around to uploading it. I’m pretty pleased with it.

© Ben Quant 2023