The Curious Incident of the Cog on the Right

Club Run, 5th September, 2015

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                     108km/67 miles with 929 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                             4 hours 06 minutes

Group size:                                           26 riders, 2 FNG’s.

Weather in a word or two:             Chilly

Main topic of conversation at the start: Crazy Legs recounted a nasty, high speed, front wheel blow out that had him sitting around for 20 minutes considering his own mortality and the fragility of both life and worn Gatorskins. He then spent 10 minutes giving his upper body a total workout, pushing over 200 strokes through a Blackburn Airstick to inflate a new inner tube so the tyre was hard enough to get him home. This served however only to deflate his ego further when he got back, clipped on his track pump, and the dial barely flickered on its short, staccato hop to show that with all his efforts he’d forced a mighty 20 psi into the tyre.

The Tour of Britain is visiting these here parts and there was much discussion about how best to catch some of the action, as well as a hope that Greggs might sponsor the stage into Blyth and award the winner a bouquet of pasties.

It seems we could have both the Vuelta and Tour of Britain on terrestrial TV at the same time, surely a first for British broadcasting.

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: G-Dawg and Zardoz have been running with the Wednesday Club an irregular group of older guys who batter each other incessantly over immense distances and ultra-hilly routes. If G-Dawg and Zardoz are complaining, it must be hard.

Dab Man rolled up all on his lonesome, not quite fixed enough to brake fully effectively or ride in a group, although I think he’s just waiting for the return of icy roads to add a little frisson of excitement and uncertainty to each ride.

[I feel duty bound to mention him because he says he only reads the blog if he’s likely to feature, so it’s a good way of doubling my readership. Oh, and while I’m at it, thanks Mom as well, I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense to a non-cyclist, and yes I will try to moderate my language in future …]

While relaxing with my second cup of coffee, Crazy Legs appeared from the Faster! Harder! Longer! group with a blank, thousand yard stare, muttering darkly about the Demon Cult of the Racing Snakes.

Finally, in one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories since the ice bucket challenge was recently proclaimed a satanic baptism ritual (yes, really), Red Max claimed the unseasonable cold weather was closely linked to the unveiling of Google’s new logo. Scarily I wasn’t altogether certain he was joking and the evidence seems to back him up, so just in case, can we petition them to change it back?

Ride Profile
Ride Profile

The Waffle:

Sadly the brief emergence of wasps last weekend did not presage an Indian summer and it was a decidedly chill morning with a constant, bitter-edged wind. Having learned a lesson from my early commute on Friday, I started out wearing long-fingered gloves which served me well and I didn’t feel the slightest urge to swap them out for the rest of the ride.

Although too cold for the wasps, there was a surprising turnout of that other pest, the common or garden club cyclist, and 24 regulars and 2 FNG lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and rode out to systematically brighten and disrupt the day of many an impatient motorist. Our ranks were further bolstered by the juniors, who always take to the roads on the first Saturday in every month, and I started at the back chatting happily to one of the dad’s as we rolled out.

When the group split at a junction I was left behind with the kids and had a hard chase uphill to rejoin the main group, which at least got me warmed up a little.


I found myself having one of those days when the pedals seem to effortlessly float around on their own accord: un jour avec perhaps, rather than a day without? These ultra rare days are definitely to be savoured as there’s no rhyme or reason for them, no possible way they can be replicated – even if you follow the exact same routine, and absolutely no way of telling when you’re likely to have another.

I put my good fortune to maximum effect, standing on the pedals to stomp and sprint up a few sharp hills in double quick time. On cresting one of these I tried to change down into a bigger gear to push on, only to find nothing was happening. I did the “dumb bad-guy in a cliché-ridden action movie” shtick; pulling on the trigger of an empty gun several times in disbelief, but no matter how often or how hard I clicked the STI lever, nothing was happening.

I then did a quick double-take to find my chain was as far over to the right as it could possibly go, and I’d just shimmied up a hill in my highest gear.


As we turned for the café the Red Max surprised us all with a sneaky, completely unexpected, un-telegraphed, long range attack which faded quickly in the headwind. Taffy Steve followed on his thrice-cursed winter-bike, the choice of which he admitted was a mistake. Despite his protestations it didn’t seem to hold him back any when it came to the pointy-end of the sprint.

I followed G-Dawg through to the front, but could sense his reluctance to take on the lead too early, so I pushed through on the inside and lined everyone out as we tipped downhill over a sketchy, corrugated surface that felt like it had been recently ploughed.

Just as I hit terminal velocity a woman in a large green 4 x 4 started to pull out into our path from a T-junction, but luckily realised at the last moment just how fast we were travelling and she lurched to a halt halfway across the road, scant seconds before I considered bailing out.

Eject! Eject!

I briefly caught the surprised look of the kid in the passenger seat, her eyes wide and mouth forming a perfect “O” as we hammered past, and then the road levelled out and everyone swept around me and down to the Snake bends.

On the way home I couldn’t help chuckling when I overheard a conversation between Son of G-Dawg and Shouty when she finally realised there was a paternal connection between G-Dawg and Son of G-Dawg. I think she was secretly relieved to learn that the bacon and egg pie, bacon butties, tea cakes and cans of Coca-Cola lavished by father on son at the café weren’t part of some bizarre North East grooming ritual.

Shoeless then set a blazing pace up Berwick Hill, and I tagged on as he dragged a small group with him that managed to shed or pass everyone else and splinter the group. He continued piling on the pressure all the way to my turn-off, where I struck out for home, having netted six Strava PR’s in just over 10km. Even a RIM in a BMW who cut me up and then flipped me off at the last roundabout couldn’t blunt my good mood and the warm glow of a great ride.

YTD Totals: 4,513km / 2,804 miles with 51,163 metres of climbing.


8 thoughts on “The Curious Incident of the Cog on the Right

  1. Agreed, I eagerly await my mail to read about the stellar lifestyles and stories we have. Never had the pleasure of running out of cogs that way before, always the other end – click – click – click – oh dear! No more.


  2. ‘Un jour avec’ is a good one, although all too rare, alas!

    As for the weather being related to Google changing their logo…? I have long been resigned to the fact that Google have a disturbing amount of influence on my life, and if it were revealed that they do now indeed control the weather, I would take this on board without surprise and carry on scrolling down my phone for something more interesting to read.


    1. According to one gentleman rider/reader of (ahem) indeterminate age who contacted me, the local phrase for “un jour avec” is pinging, which I quite like, but have to admit to never having heard before?

      I must introduce you to the Red Max some time – he has enough conspiracy theories to make you consider turning off all your electrical appliances and sleeping in a lead-lined room.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If i’m ever on un jour avec, or even pinging, I tend to keep quiet about it for fear of jinxing things – under promise and over deliver etc. I like the sound of your friend…a healthy skeptic?


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