SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Bucephalus

Posted: Thursday, 6 March 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , , ,

As predicted it snowed a little overnight, this always bodes well for the day. We should have been like race horses at the starting gate, but nothing could be further from the truth. We were all tired and maybe just a tiny bit hung over, furthermore Alex and Manos, both recent fathers and have been working hard to feed hungry young mouths and not sleeping at nights. More importantly poor Manos has been running a fever for many days now and the thermometer checks are as regular as the coffee and cigarette breaks. Should his temperature hit 39 degrees it will be time to find a hospital. Luckily, it remained just below critical and was notably less when he was riding than back at the hotel. I suspect he is putting it in the snow when we are not looking to skew the readings.

In spite of our lethargy, my first ride went really well on the pink skibike, I think I have worked out why. Yesterday, when it was bright and sunny, it was frightened by its own shadow; today in the flat light it does not have this problem. For this reason I shall name it Bucephalus. If you have no idea what I am going on about here's a quick history lesson.
A massive creature with a massive head... his breeding was that of the "best Thessalian strain." Plutarch tells the story of how, in 344 BC, a thirteen-year-old[3] Alexander won the horse.[4] A horse dealer named Philonicus the Thessalian offered Bucephalus to King Philip II for the sum of 13 talents, but because no one could tame the animal, Philip was not interested. However, Philip's son Alexander was. He promised to pay for the horse himself should he fail to tame it.
Alexander was given a chance and surprised all by subduing it. He spoke soothingly to the horse and turned it towards the sun so that it could no longer see its own shadow, which had been the cause of its distress. Dropping his fluttering cloak as well, Alexander successfully tamed the horse. Plutarch says that the incident so impressed Philip that he told the boy, "O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee."[4]

On a less lofty note we also met up with two SledgeHammer skibike riders on an outing from neighbouring Romania. Clive, tired of life in the UK, set up a business in Bucharest, his friend and colleague Eddie had joined him to ride. Clive has been riding for a few years now, with an all too familiar history of worn knees forcing him off the mountain, whilst skibikes are providing a solution to his addiction for the white stuff.

SledgeHammer and Avalanche skibikes on the piste

Eddie has quite a fear of heights and it is to his credit that he is facing his nemesis; understandably his style errs on the side of caution and he prefers to take his time with lots of traverses. He was also suffering problems with a broken quick release fitting on the ski mounts. Collectively we engineered a quick MacGyver style repair using a plastic bottle cap; it wasn't ideal but it got him to the bottom of the hill in one piece.
I took time out to show Clive and Eddie some nifty skibike survival tricks and hopefully they will enjoy safer skibiking together in the future.

MacGyver style repair using a plastic bottle cap

Slightly better conditions in the afternoon gave me the chance to get to the top of the mountain for the first time, where the snow park is located. There was some really good riding to be had off piste skirting between the shrubbery; for those with bigger clangers than I, there were also jumps and features to attempt.

My relationship with Bucephalus continued to improve, we're not quite dancing together yet, but I am pulling off the same moves I would do on my own skibike and achieving the same results. There might be hope for us yet.

If you want a bit of total Hollywood historical guff, courtesy of Oliver Stone, here is the taming scene from Alexander complete with American actors putting on terrible comedy Irish accents; everyone knows the ancient Greeks spoke perfect received pronunciation.