Paria & a load of Pollocks

Paria & a load of Pollocks

On September 11th 1971, John Lennon appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, a hugely popular post 60’s, Americana zeitgeist show which was essential viewing due to its hosts easy going, conversational style and litany of A list celebs. Towards the end of the interview Cavett asks Lennon about the true meaning of the song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. The myth was that said song with such a title was a direct nod to the Beatles experimentation with acid – LSD. Lennon however maintained that this was completely untrue and in fact it was his son who had brought home a crazy painting from school; on questioning the image, Julian Lennon had replied that it was a picture of “Lucy flying in the sky with diamonds….” – and thus the tale was born.


Now whether this was Lennon trying to deflect any further scrutiny of the Beatles and their drug taking; due to the critical reaction to Pauls open confession of consuming LSD, from the public and the band; or whether it is in fact true, has been lost in translation over the years. Personally, I hope that there is some truth in both and some crazy cosmic connection and double meaning created by some higher power. Either way it doesn’t really matter and like all Art is up to individual interpretation and elucidation.


This week I received an essential bit of kit with autumn rolling in – the long sleeve thermal jersey., sent me a ‘Bleka’ jersey and it’s certainly an eye catcher., by their own admission, have a passion for the alternative, be it in design or attitude and they make no apology for it – “….it means we’ve sometimes ended up feeling like the odd one out.” Finally, a kindred spirit and a club I have the right shoes for!


Sam, Chief Commissionaire, at gave me the background of the thinking and design of the Bleka range;

“It was actually a bit of a 90’s throwback, coupled with the fact that I knackered a Ralph Lauren polo shirt once spilling bleach on it when I was cleaning a floor!”

Now I can totally relate to this; only a month ago I ruined a pair of beloved Vans shorts in exactly the same way while cleaning our shower. I can also see the 90’s theme with that tie-dye, bleached, stonewash thing going on – ‘Bleka’ is in fact Swedish for bleach. It is definitely individual, alternative and cool.


The jersey is a standard long sleeve looker. Body fit, full zipper, 3 pockets elasticated cuffs, silicone grippers and reflective piping. The semi fleece thermos lining means you are snug on those chilly rides without overheating or unduly leaking sweat. The shiny geometrically patterned black works extremely well as a juxtapose to the slightly blurred matt white ‘Bleka’ print and the overall look is a definite head turner. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I’m mainly thinking of the Assos and Castelli purists, but we don’t talk to them anyway!


Immediately on seeing the Bleka range, in fact within milliseconds, I had decided on what the design meant, stood for and was a nod towards. To me it had to be Jackson Pollack, the volatile, alcohol fuelled abstract expressionist of the 60’s made famous for his unique style of ‘drip painting’. I have always felt a strong affinity with Pollack and his work, which if I am honest was born out of an obsession with The Stone Roses and John Squires album cover homage.


This is what I thought the ‘Bleka’ range was about but as I have explained or rather as Sam explained it wasn’t……….or was it? (It wasn’t, did you not read the above quote?)


Just as with Lennon and Lucy, perhaps there was a double, unknown and hidden meaning which was only to be discovered once the range had been released on an unsuspecting public. Without knowing what ‘Bleka’ meant when I received it and not having spoke to Sam I Googled ‘bleka’. What came up only cemented further my belief that this design was based on the Pop artist and as usual, ahem, I was right. ‘Bleka’ is also a Swedish name for an Atlantic marine habitant – Pollachius Pollachius – or as it is better known the Pollock. Weird man.


So, by pure accident or cosmic connection, chose a name for their newest range which has two completely different yet valid and inspiring meanings behind the design. Just as the Beatles have ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’; have ‘Bleka’. Now I’m not saying that are as big as the Beatles, you know what sort of trouble that lands you in, but it’s worth pondering what forces were at work that day long ago when the bleach hit the polo shirt. Trippy dude.


I think the only thing that we can take from this is that it is yet more scientific fact that cycling and all that goes with it operates on a higher plane than other mundane pastimes. Was it not Buddha who said, “Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, man cannot live without cycling.” (……it wasn’t by the way)


Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem

‘O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.’


I think I had heard of Walt Whitman but I can’t be sure. It’s possible he merged into the overabundance of moody and inaccessible poets I was introduced to in my teens via an over excitable GCSE English Lit teacher. Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Robert Frost all glided untouched over my teenage head. I was more interested in what Kurt Cobain, Zack de la Rocha and the Beastie Boys had to say.

‘O Captain! My Captain!’ hit me, like the first time you hear Kate Bush’s ‘This Woman’s Work’; (which if you haven’t, stop reading right now, sit somewhere comfortable and YouTube it…………………………Are you back? OK well done.) It stirred something in me which as a pubescent boy at an all-boys school had been supressed and ignored in favour of rugby and talk of unobtainable girls. Emotion. I know, for a fact, that the poem on its own would not have done this, it was the delivery. I give you Robin McLaurin Williams and ‘The Dead Poets Society’.

I knew this crackers, 100mph comic from Mork & Mindy; part of the 90’s Channel 4 offering between 6pm-7pm on weekdays. I had seen Good Morning Vietnam also and was struck by the emotionally sincerity in his role when the madcap shenanigans had subsided and the full horror of war had tempered his character into sobriety. I liked Williams; he was a funny guy.

“The Mississippi River broke through a protective dike today. What is a protective dike? Is it a large woman that says “Don’t go near there! But Betty- Don’t go near there! Don’t go down by the river!”… No, we can’t say “dyke” on the air, we can’t even say “lesbian” anymore, it’s “women in comfortable shoes. Thank You.” – Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam

 ‘The Dead Poets Society’ siezed me and I identified with its variety of characters. Perry, Anderson, Overstreet, Dalton, Pitts and Meeks; I saw something of myself and close friends in all of them. The day to day school environment was also a familiar one, albeit less preppy and more North East, UK. The struggle for both internal and external acceptance, confidence in a confusing and scripted world. I did have some inspiring teachers at school but we lacked a John Keating. It is still a film I don’t mind admitting that I struggle to watch without becoming a bit wet faced. The ending is a distressing crescendo of coercion by an unrelenting father figure; I will not spoil it if you haven’t seen it………AGAIN, YOU’VE NOT SEEN ‘DEAD POETS SOCIETY’! STOP READING THIS AND GO WATCH IT; jeez have you been living under a rock?!

“Carpe diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society

So we have established Williams is, in my humble opinion, a legend, one of the luminous few; to make his position even more lofty and enlightened he was obsessive about all things bike. As befits a man of his zany and unconventional existence his considerable and excessive collection of two wheel velocipedes is staggering. You can view part of this collection, in fact you can own part of it if you have the cash money. 87 of his steeds are currently being auctioned off for charity and there is something for everyone.

Some personal favourites of the 87 are;

The Pea Picker Krate Stingray –

The Chopper Hog Roadster –

The Derringer –

There seems to be every conceivable brand covered. Some that are household names and some that have disappeared from existence. This collection is apparently only a fraction of the collection. What a guy. Another quirk of the auction is the addition of the accoutrements i.e. saddle bags, frame bags, frame pumps, bottles and in a few even the cycling computer seems to be included. What a personal touch. What entities of wonder and precious things grace the insides of his Dario Pegoretti saddle pack? What steady routes did he complete on the Pinarello Dogma 6.1? What emergency implements hide in the tool bottle attached to his Calfee Dragonfly Pro?

It is unlikely I will ever know because due to the recent skydive of the pound there is now way I can even contemplate bidding for any of the bikes. But someone will find out, and someone will have a direct connection to the great man himself. I will have to conciliate myself with the visceral connection he made to me all those years ago on channel 4, VHS and latterly in his openness to publicly deal with his failing health, be it physical or mental.

He would be first on my rollcall of bucket list dinner guests alongside Bill Hicks, Bob Marley and Steve McQueen. I think more fitting though, would be to have been able to share a café stop coffee with him, sharing tales of daring descents, questionable climbing and a penchant for ill-fitting Lycra. Thanks for making me happy Williams.

“Well sir; I don’t know how much value I have in this universe, but I do know I made a few people happier than they would have been without me and as long as I know that; I’m as rich as I ever need to be.” – Mork, Mork & Mindy


You can bid on the 87 bikes at Paddle 8 until 25th October

Paddle 8 Auction –