Words and Photos by Rasmus Pellizotti
Trædekongen is something of an enigma.
You sift through his series of photographs and quickly get lost in a world of melodrama that surrounds cycling. The dark, solemn imagery speaks volumes to this imprecise ideal we are chasing when we ride. Our general disdain for inclement weather riding lives within the dystopian universe that Trædekongen champions through his dark imagery.
His words present a stripped-down, no-frills impression of the darkness associated with off-season riding. A means to an end. But the darkness is a characteristic of some mutated human condition that composes the essentials of a cyclist's existence. The hurt and the harshness. Devoid of the optimistic and sunny, romantic ideals with which we dress it up, Trædekongen is the naked truth: cycling au naturel with all its blemishes and imperfections.
Here Trædekongen invites you into his world, a post-No-Beer-For-A-Year epoch that features the less-glamorous truths of cycling and a resilient determination to return to the sport.
You are on the hardest ride of your life and managing it. You miss a turn and suddenly you are nowhere. Small mistakes, big consequences. 8 months without being able to ride. Nerve damages to fingers and toes, overweight. Lack of healthy habits. Thoughts about quitting the sport where you suffered so much but love so much. No.
The emptiness like a Beth Gibbons song that gets you twisting yourself around a painful detour into numbness. Losing the ability to find joy in normality and searching for ways to feel more wistful. Time. Passes.
You walk dark streets and see ugliness creeping and crawling everywhere. It fills you and feeds you. It consumes you, traps you. Amplified by the situation, the darkness and misery of your seasons that pass. Vanished like the joy of youth with no ways to catch and retrieve it. Going further into the abyss of finding a way to feel something in the shadows. Looking at numb faces that appear to be lost on the wet and dark winter streets. No answers.
Feeling cold rain on your face. Almost painful but with some masochistic satisfaction to not turn away. Forward. Finding all the things you lost and forgot. Holding onto what may be there. Road dirt in your face, flat tire, breathing, snot, soaked feet that hurt. Again. Finally. Finding some beauty in the misery of an empty wet winter road. Time to think.
That freezing itch on your skin after removing your wet clothes. The puffy eyes after hours outside and the pain from the water in the shower, slowly awakening dead toes and hands.
You remember. The addictiveness. You want to feel this again. The ascent from the endless black hole that feeds and defines you. It is miserable and beautiful. You go again. Not faster, just again. The battle is not won, but not lost. Struggling to endure that time that passes and that you will only ever enjoy and see a small glimpse of it all.
Miles pass faster than life. A cold January turned into something to hold onto by rotating rubber, carbon, and aluminium. Strangers will laugh at the data. The silent victory was never achieved. The faces on the streets continue to be lost, but you can discharge the dark edges and feel a bit more alive. Again. Forward. The Return.
Trædekongen made a return to cycling in 2021, completing the PNS/Strava challenge by riding 1200 January kilometres in Denmark.