Just a year ago I was living my adolescent dream of playing in a British punk band. I met Leather Zoo while managing a Snowsport Team in Livigno, Italy. We were trapped in a three-bedroom apartment located above a stall housing about 300 cows. The smell was very natural and organic, but after four months, a little fresh air was needed. So the Zoo (the band not the cows) invited me to Sheffield, England where I filled in for their drummer who was unable to make some of their UK venues. For two weeks I lived a dream. One of the venues – The Packhorse in Leeds – was a major venue for little-known up-and-coming bands of the ’60s and ’70s such as The Who and Led Zeppelin. After flying into Midlands Airport, I had five hours of rehearsal before our first gig that evening. Fleur de Lys was the first song we played that night and it has stuck with me ever since. Leather Zoo often tours around Europe every summer and fall so try to catch them when they come by. Their sound is organic and raw, drawing on a number of personal experiences and talents that the band possesses – especially the allusive “Mr. Woddy.” They are excellent people, awesome musicians and amazing athletes. Mel and Biff have quite a history of cycling behind them – but both are too modest to talk about it.
Thus, when I was out the other day on my classic ride, this song came to mind. It reminds me of spring and the sudden liberty felt after a long, smelly winter. This route is simply a spin around the Lac du Bourget just outside of Chambéry, France. The climbs aren’t too severe (not like the Col de Colombière or Col de Galibier for example), yet the Col du Chat and the Col de la Chambotte are challenging enough after a winter of downhill skiing. Little known is the fact that the Lac du Bourget is the largest and deepest natural lake located entirely within France. The poet Alphonse de Lamartine was inspired the lake’s magnificence in 1820 and wrote “Le Lac, addressing questions such as the futility of the past, human memory and love; only the beauty of the countryside can conserve these “souvenirs” better than any poet. I couldn’t agree more. This bike ride around the lake retains some of the greatest memories of my life. Often I’d bike it with a friend who has since moved back to Massachusetts, but the ride itself is always a trip down memory lane – I’m never riding it alone even when I’m by myself. And so I hope you enjoy this film of the ride and my Leather Zoo soundtrack.