Living the Life of Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen…

Welcome to my second post for Grass Up the Middle!

I’m not your traditional grass-up-the-middler: I only ride SWorks race bikes; every ride is training; and I only ride nicely paved roads—mud, cobbles, and off-road are all off limits!

So why be an [honourary] member of Grass-Up-the-Middle? I luckily got to know Paul very well when I moved to Manchester back in 2016; 4 years later and I appear to have gone off the rails… As a Senior Research Associate at Manchester Metropolitan University working on antiquarian forgery, I packed up and left Manchester to work on my research and writing projects at my parents’ house in North Wales at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plenty of grassy lanes there in the beautiful Vale of Clwyd!

With the current global situation and complete uncertainty over what my University will do with me after my current contract ends on 28 Feb. ’21—perhaps extend my current contract (doubtful), redeploy me (not holding out hope), or give me a P45 (odds-on favourite)—I made a radical decision! With deteriorating mental health, the prospect of being stuck in a British winter self-destructively counting down the days until my job finishes, something needed to change… And because I have only been into my university once since I left Manchester at the start of the year (and that was to repatriate my books), I decided to move to the wonderful province of Latina, Lazio, just south of Rome.

I’ve ended up living in a wonderful house perched 400m up on the side of a mountain in the Lepini mountains. Learning Italian, living the Italian (COVID-19 safe) life, doing all my academic work, I also have the wonderful roads of the province at my disposal.

So, as Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen famously put it, I’m getting precipitously close to 40 and I have no idea what I’m doing. Does this make me one of the most interesting people out there?—I doubt it, but what I know is that every day is now an adventure! Will I come back to the UK, will I keep racing bikes for my current Bolton-based team, will I settle down?—I’ve got no idea! What I’m planning, instead, is to finish my two current books and try and get a fellowship at the British School in Rome for 2021.

I am only doing the most important things that matter: getting on with my academic work in glorious surroundings, and riding the amazing climbs in this region. And happily I have a training partner here; a tiny, pure climbing pro who is now only speaking to me in Italian (to help me with the language)! I’m far from a climber, so this makes the rides all the more interesting. Especially challenging when the road points up and we climb up a mountain with 500m–1000m of elevation gain. My grass up the middle is currently the freedom, fresh air, and blue sky of Italy, and climbs up to Cori, Norma, Bassiano, Roccamassima, Sermoneta, and Sezze!

Warmest regards to all the grass-up-the-middlers!

Words and pictures – Dr Peter N. Lindfield

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