Stems, scrotums and the melancholy winking dog ride…

Club Run, 27th June, 2015

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                     104km/65 miles with 1,047 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                             4 hours 0 minutes

Group size:                                           33 including at least 4 FNG’s.

Weather in a word or two:               Almost perfect.

Main topic of conversation at the start: Every rider who normally turns up early (i.e. on time) made a point of checking their watches in stunned disbelief as they rode in to find a sizeable crowd of fellow cyclists already gathered and waiting for the off. Before 9.00! Good weather does strange things to people. The majority were even willing to risk their ultra-posh, water-soluble good bikes on what promised to be an exceedingly pleasant day.

OGL spotted an old Cinelli stem on BFG’s new/vintage bike(?) and cheerfully recounted how he had ripped open his scrotum on one during a crash at a track meet. Needless to say that’s one set of scars no one wants to see during the next “show us yours” bragging contest.

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: The continuing, philosophical elucidation of the circumstances in which a dog is prone to winking, or smiling, and its propensity to do so, often believed to occur in direct correlation to its need to conduct intensive self-ablutions of a most intimate nature.

The revelation that the world can be divided into those who’ve ever listened to Pink Floyd and those ageing, but still heroic, punk-inspired brethren who feel their soul would just shrivel up and die if they thought a copy of Dark Side of the Moon had ever crossed the threshold into the purest sanctity of their homes.

Remembering laughably bad Top Gear/Dad- rock as epitomised by Toto, REO Speedwagon, Boston, Europe, Foreigner, Journey, Styx, Heart, Berlin. (Shudder).

[The ensuing, Berlin inspired Top Gun verdict was a unanimous whitewash – the Grumman F14 Tomcat: 6, Miss Kelly McGilliss: Nil]

The awkwardness of being mercilessly pwned and ending up as an ultra-embarrassing impediment to your own children, while trying to co-op their favourite online FPS’s.

Ride Profile
Ride Profile

The Waffle:

33 brave lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and set out in perfect weather, warm temperatures, high broken clouds and plenty of sunshine, only occasionally marred by a sometimes challenging breeze. Once again we carefully negotiated the labyrinthine, Heath Robinson death-traps of the new, Great North Road Cycle Way, where Taffy Steve amused himself by twanging the “Rommelspargel” candy-striped poles, to see if he could get them to bang together like some immense Newton’s Cradle.

Having successfully emerged unscathed from our very own version of Yungas Road, I thought we were in the clear when directly in front of me one of Cowin’ Bovril’s tyres detonated with a sound like a Paveway bomb exploding. Luckily I don’t wear a heart monitor as I think the resulting spike might have frazzled it for good.

“Hmm, I suspect someone may have punctured.” Another Engine stated dryly, coasting nonchalantly past.

For some reason the rest of us then felt the need to ride another quarter of a mile to the overpass before stopping to wait for Cowin’ Bovril to repair the damage and catch up. Oh well, at least we got to watch the cars pile past as we languished in their therapeutic exhaust fumes.

Out into the country and more open roads we sped, with a regular rotation of riders at the front as the wind was proving somewhat more of an impediment than expected. I caught up with The Red Max who declared he was having un jour sans. The consensus then seemed to be his Forlorn Hope effort would likely be restricted to a 3 mile instead of 5 mile sprint.

We were well into the ride proper when warning shouts of “runner” floated up from the front, closely followed by “dog”. Sure enough, as we all moved to the left of the road a girl jogged lithely past on the right. I looked up, empty road. Looked again, still empty. Finally, and trailing her by about 200 yards, her dog (I assumed it was hers, and not just crazy bad at stalking) lolloped past, almost tripping over its own tongue and panting like the soundtrack to a bad 70’s porn film.

Crazy Legs seemed surprised the dog hadn’t attacked him on sight (I think he feels he’s irresistible to all mammals,) but I countered that the dog was happy and appeared to be smiling at him. This led to a rather long and convoluted discussion of whether dogs can actually smile. Or wink. A discussion we carried on throughout the café stop, much to the bafflement and bemusement of everyone else around us.

“Here’s lookin’ at choo, Crazy Legs”

The group split, with the amblers being promised one of OGL’s magical mystery tours down farm tracks, through gates and across cattle grids, while carefully negotiating flocks of sheep, herds of cows and their assorted effluvia.

The longer ride hadn’t gone far when we were halted by another puncture, poised at the foot of Middleton Bank, and I found myself at the back as we finally got rolling again and began the climb. It was from this vantage point that I first noticed one of our FNG’s, a Dapper Dan in perfectly fitting, laurel green  Café du Cyclist jersey, simple black shorts, retro looking shoes and the most outrageous long socks. He just utterly nailed the look as if he’d been born to it, oozing class and effortless style, and even managing to carry off the socks. The bastard. To cap it all he then capered effortlessly up the climb, and I watched the gap between us slowly widening, even as I was slipping past a long stream of grunting gutter pigs dragging themselves up the outer edge of the road.

One of Dapper Dan's spiritual forebears
One of Dapper Dan’s spiritual forebears

There was a general regrouping as we hammered our way on toward the café, then Crazy Legs kicked up the pace even more and strung everyone out with a massive pull on the front. We hurtled through a road junction, whipping past the amblers who were just emerging wide-eyed and shell-shocked, but otherwise unscathed from their journey into the darkest rural-wilds.

Our group carried its speed through a left and then right switchback before hitting a couple of short, sharp ramps. The Red Max roared up the first, but then sputtered and died as the second incline bit. Having been the first to jump onto his wheel, I swooped around him with a despairing “Noooooo!” and found myself out in front much too early for either my own self-preservation or carefully cultivated wheel-sucking tendencies. (Well, he did warn me he was having a bad day).

With nowhere to hide I kept going, surging over the crest to pelt full-gas down the descent onto the final climb. As we rounded the dog-leg onto the last series of dips and rises G-Dawg and Son of G-Dawg zipped away engaged in their own private battle. A bit further on and Dapper Dan whirred past, and then … nothing … no one else was challenging. I think at this point Shouty was comfortably camped on my rear wheel, but for whatever reason she took pity on an old man and stayed there as we pushed on to the café.

With the amblers still trailing someway behind we had were able to nab first place in the queue and we were on to our refills before they eventually rolled in. An incident free run for home then capped a hugely enjoyable ride.

“Well, it made me smile.”

Until next week…

YTD Totals: 3,189km/ 1,981 miles with 35,422 metres of climbing.


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