The Szell Game : What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

Club Run, 8th August, 2015

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                     112km/69 miles with 1,041 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                             4 hours 21 minutes

Group size:                                           25 riders, 1 FNG.

Weather in a word or two:             Contradictory: (breezy, sunny yet chilly)

Main topic of conversation at the start: The most efficient ways to consume calories on holiday and not waste them by making the journey to the pool unnecessarily arduous.

Crazy Legs survived a visit to a Cold War era nuclear fallout bunker in the deepest, darkest depths of – well I’m not allowed to tell you. He also made a brave decision not to buy the TT bike he was coveting, although he has acquired some aero bars.

The Red Max, having maxed out all his red bling; clothing, bikes, accessories, socks, shoes, bottles et al, has kitted out the Monkey Butler boy in similar vein – a Mini-Max!

What is it with all the migrants queuing up in Calais to come to the UK – isn’t France far more attractive anyway? At least they have better weather for cycling across there, and drivers don’t treat you like roadkill that needs to be scraped deeper into the tarmac.

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: There was some discussion about whether the Sky wind tunnel testers were ever allowed to address the massive elephant in the room in their dedicated pursuit of even the most miniscule of marginal gains: “Err, Chris … you couldn’t, err, just, err, well, err tuck your elbows in a bit, could you?”

We had to explain to the FNG that it’s considered a point of honour to never, ever let Szell rejoin the front group once he’s been distanced on the Middleton Bank climb.

Conversation then seemed to deteriorate as Szell tried to deflect attention from a series of faux pas and outrageous assertions, namely:

– That Maggie Philbin was the thinking man’s crumpet back in the day!

– That Clare Grogan was not worthy of our undying adoration!!!

– That Clare Grogan married Nick Heyward???

– That “Where does it go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear?” isn’t one of the dumbest lyrics ever committed to song.

His attempted diversion was to suggest he had the unique ability to detect the size, type and use of a vibrator simply from the frequency of the sound-waves it made. Or perhaps (very hopefully) I completely misheard this?

Ride Profile
Ride Profile

The Waffle:

The Transport Interchange Centre either has its own micro-climate, gently warmed by the collective, throbbing emissions of a dozen, idling diesels, or it’s a bit of suntrap, as quarter of an hour shooting the breeze here had me stripping off my arm warmers under a hot sun, only to find it a mite chilly out on the open road and in the cold wind.

25 lads and lasses pushed off and clipped in as we sallied forth into the unwelcoming traffic. Unbelievably in a life-is-stranger-than-fiction moment, a week after I suggested cyclists would be better getting off and pushing through the abortion that is the Great North Road Cycle Maze, it is now proudly adorned by a huge warning sign that proclaims: “Cyclists dismount before proceeding” What. The. Fuck?

Fellow riders who live in the area are also saying they are now subject to regular abuse from motorists because they’re refusing to use the GNRCM death-trap. To top it all a scurrilous rumour has started suggesting OGL is actually responsible for this abomination and the club paid for it! Madness.

Crazy Legs has some new Aero bars
Mmmm … Aero bars

In one bright spot, before carefully skirting the GNCRM, Dab Man sailed out to join us – only the second ride for him since the crash when his shoulder pinged, back in May.

Our route for the day was designed to intersect with a local road race where we had several club competitors to cheer on. This saw us running along very familiar roads, but in the opposite direction from the one we usually take. Everything looked familiar, but strangely different, and it was all slightly unsettling and discordant in a Twilight Zone/Parallel Universe sort of way.

The ride became a bit chaotic, as several thrusting young things, aided and abetted by some of the older, supposedly more level-headed guys, flexed their legs and pushed the pace up and up. An apoplectic OGL shouted to keep it steady, but truth be told it was steady – just unaccountably fast. He then complained we weren’t looking back to check on other riders and I couldn’t help snorting with laughter as Crazy Legs’s head popped up for a very exaggerated, pantomime look around, like a startled Meerkat on snake patrol.

Split? What split?
Split? What split?

Watching the race whirr past in a blur of colours reminded me that one of the fundamental problems of this sport is that spectating isn’t a particularly rewarding experience, as the racers come and go in blink of an eye and it’s impossible to grasp what’s actually happening in that split-second. I will say however, that hideous as they are, our guys orange socks were very visible in the bunch.

Though lacking somewhat in sartorial elegance, the orange socks did stand out.
Though lacking somewhat in sartorial elegance, the orange socks did stand out.

Pressing on, our ride then endured a messy split, with no one quite sure which groups were which, where they were going and everyone all mixed up. A small bunch headed left, another right and I dithered a little before my naturally left-leaning tendencies took me after the smaller group.

We had distanced Red Max on the climb up Middleton Bank, but as we wound up the pace for the café he bridged the gap pulling Szell and a few others with him and dropping them off at the back of the group, before his even crazier than normal, but understandably short-lived attack over the top. I clung grimly to the wheel in front as we shed riders up the final climb until there were only three of us left. G-Dawg dug out a 10 metre gap that was too much for Crazy Legs to close while I hung on in third.

The ride for home was somewhat marred by one RIM who insisted on taking up ¾ of the road in his over-sized 4×4 and then refusing to slow while barrelling down a narrow country lane toward a bunch of squishy cyclists. What an onanist.

I complimented Shouty on having perhaps the loudest free-hub in the club. With a grin she told me how much she enjoyed coasting behind someone and letting the constant whirring mockingly tell them she was freewheeling happily, while they slogged away into the headwind. Pure evil genius.

A consequence of hard riding, the fast pace, challenging headwind on my solo ride home and the accumulated, dual effects of holiday inactivity and bingeing, left me utterly exhausted and empty as I finally made the bottom of Heinous Hill.

As I crawled slowly upwards at barely 5 mile an hour I would gladly have sold my soul to Eufemiano Fuentes for just a single sip of EPO, or even just one extra cog. The last speed bump with its consequent 1% increase in gradient for all of 1 metre was almost the end of me, but having conquered this very personal Kemmelberg I was gratefully home and hosed.

YTD Totals: 4,083km / 2,537 miles with 46,966 metres of climbing.


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