Cap de Formentor, Mallorca
Every month I write the editorial for an alpine e-journal. It's a task I enjoy, but this weekend, as I drafted my column, I had the niggling worry my words weren't concerned with mountaineering at all. I’d just returned from a cycle camp in Mallorca, which although an active break, isn't really of interest to climbers. And yet, by the time I’d finished writing, I realised my time there was just as relevant as any report of snow conditions in the Alps.
For no sooner had I signed into our hotel in Alcudia than one of the organisers greeted me with a hug and the news that her daughter was having a baby. I was delighted too, because I’ve known Jacquie and her husband Andy for over thirty years, going back to days when we rode tandems and would meet at time trials around the country. As fate would have it, we’d end up living in the same town, our children racing and riding together, just as we had.
And then there was Kate, who I’ve known almost as long – and Kirsty and Mark who once holidayed at our house, and Cathy and Clive, relative newcomers at a decade’s friendship… I could go on, but you get the picture.
My eight days in Mallorca saw me lose half a stone, ride 400 miles, and rejoice in a landscape where lemon trees are as common as laurels here in Wales. But, what most gladdened my heart wasn't so much the sunshine or even the miles we covered, as the sense of a weaving of threads – the warp and weft of the friendships that run through our lives — in this case, patterned by a passion for bikes, but it could just as easily have been bezique.
Which is where the relevance to climbing lies.
Reflecting on the activities I have loved all my life, I was struck by how bound they are to the friendships they've fostered. The same pattern occurs time and again, whether it be walking or kayaking or skiing or more recently, motorcycling. Even my writing, a solitary pursuit if there was one, is intimately connected to those who read and comment and trust...
...and tell me to stop when I'm going on too long!
But before I do, I suppose what I realised in drafting my notes this weekend, is actually pretty obvious. That whether I'm cycling in Mallorca, climbing in the Alps, or writing in West Wales, it's the people that matter as much as the practice. For our true passions, whatever they may be, are inevitably bonded to those we share our experiences with —and to separate the two would be to diminish both sides of the equation.