Man Down!

Club Run – Saturday 30th May, 2015

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                     110.2km/68.5 miles with 1,099 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                             4 hours 16 minutes

Group size:                                            33 cyclists at the start. A handful of FNG’s

Weather in a word or two:               Bright, breezy, chilly. (Okay, 3)

Main topic of conversation at the start: Half Man Half Biscuit and the Dukla Prague away kit, the Sausage Festival and answering lots of sensible questions for one of the young FNG’s, who turned out to be super-fit and well able to handle himself without any of my blather.

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: One of the girls is swimming the Channel next week and we were all shocked to learn the rules outlaw wearing wetsuits. Here I was thinking the UCI had the monopoly on arbitrary, asinine rules that lack all credibility, common sense and compassion. It may also explain why she’s been ordering industrial sized tubs of Vaseline recently. Or not.

Ride Profile
Ride Profile

The Waffle:

Man down!

32 brave lads and lasses set out under mainly bright skies, laced with a chill and occasionally debilitating westerly. A day warm enough for shorts and arm warmers as long as you kept moving, although one rider was rather bizarrely dressed in a bandana, helmet, shades, jersey, arm warmers, full length gloves, a gillet, a rain jacket, shorts, leg warmers, shoes and overshoes. Who was that masked man? What did he know that we didn’t? Were we due unheralded bad weather of Biblical proportions? Was it the Invisible Man? Was he allergic to sunlight? A vampire? All eminently sensible questions that, sadly, remain unanswered.

With Reg convalescing, I had the opportunity to take the no name winter bike out for a spin, and we slotted in to the back of the group where I got the chance to catch-up with super-fit, twinkle-eyed octogenarian Zardoz. He’s not really that old (allegedly) but carries with him the aura of a benevolent, white-haired, Bernard Cribbins-style good natured and avuncular grandfather. This however merely serves to hide a psychopathic killer instinct to put the hammer down just when the hills start to bite. Which is fine, and you accept it, because all the while he’s smiling sweetly at you through your pain.

We were tootling along quite merrily until we hit one of those small innocuous hills, get halfway up and find the road blockaded by a tangle of supine riders and bikes. As I’ve already outlined, going up hills are where things can quickly become a bit sketchy on club runs, amidst jostling, switching position, bad choices and inattention. I was too far back to see exactly what happened, but depending on who you spoke to, someone either shipped their chain or accidentally “uncleated” at an inopportune time. There was a wobble and perhaps a bit of barging and a touch of wheels. Seizing the opportunity to get out of a solemn promise to spend the afternoon shopping for a new kitchen, Dab Man hurled himself to the tarmac with a few others. His shoulder pinged. Or maybe it ponged. Either way, it ended up pointing in the wrong direction, and by the time I got up to the accident he was sat quite cheerfully on the side of the road, seemingly oblivious to the pain, lamenting his bad luck and starting a long, long wait for an ambulance. OGL, Szell and a few others hung back to keep him company while we rode on.

Nothing good ever comes from a chute dans le peloton

I hope the Dab Man makes a swift and speedy recovery and is soon back riding from what turns out to be a broken clavicle. I should also, I guess, take this opportunity to apologise for calling him a wuss when he tumbled on black ice during one of our winter club runs earlier this year and had to call for the broom wagon to sweep him up from the café. Ok, ok, in retrospect maybe having a fractured wrist and being unable to brake are acceptable excuses for abandoning a ride after all.

The group split, then split again and Crazy Legs took the opportunity to drive us into the teeth of the wind at a murderous pace. I drifted back off the front and slotted in behind our very own Plumose Papuss, a 44kg bundle of youthful energy and seething enthusiasm, laced with wicked potential and armoured in long green socks(!) Well, I say bundle, but only in the sense of taking a bundle at both ends and twisting and twisting until it forms a whipcord thin, razor-wire of muscle and sinew. I tried sheltering from the headwind behind his back wheel, but he has so little body mass it was as ineffectual as standing in the middle of a raging torrent with an umbrella up and hoping to stay dry.

I dropped further back until I was just about hanging on as we made the haul up Middleton Bank, where Zardoz attacked and young Papuss floated up after him. Crazy Legs and G-Dawg dutifully followed and I dropped down to my own pace, sliding around The Red Max, who was loudly and roundly cursing Sir Isaac Newton for having the temerity to ever invent gravity(?)

We had a general regrouping at the top, and from there I watched The Red Max manoeuvre into position for his customary “Forlorn Hope” a massively long break for the café, or as he likes to think of it a short, 5 mile sprint. A bit heavy legged I couldn’t catch the wheels, and became slightly detached. I thought I might pull a little back as the road climbed, but the gap stayed resolutely the same and I was forced to coast into the café sur la jante and in splendid isolation.

After an uneventful ride back I turned off for home and a draggy climb of 4 or 5 miles into the headwind to cross the river. Then with the wind thankfully behind I scuttled along the valley at a fairly decent clip to the bottom of Heinous Hill. 1.2 miles long with an average gradient of 7% and ramps of up to 16%, on paper it doesn’t sound too hard, but it’s a bit of a leg shredder at the end of a long ride. Makes me wonder why I choose to live up here, although if the catastrophic weather the Invisible Man was expecting ever arrives, perhaps I’ll be safe from all but the worst flooding.

Until next week…

YTD Totals: 2,477km/ 1,539 miles with 27,096metres of climbing.

Afterword: For those who are as much in disbelief as I am, the snappily titled Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation rules quite clearly state: “No swimmer in a standard attempt to swim the Channel shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his/her heat retention such as wetsuit. The swimmer is permitted to grease the body before a swim, use goggles and one hat. Nose clips and earplugs are permitted. Caps may not be made from neoprene or any other material which offers similar heat retention properties.”


4 thoughts on “Man Down!

  1. Just for Toshi San OCDness, what kind of questions was the FNG asking? Oh, and am near to putting House up for sale. Been a long journey………


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