Club Run, Saturday 24th October, 2015
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 113 km/70 miles with 1,021 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 19 minutes
Group size: 26 riders with 1 FNG
Weather in a word or two: Chilly and blustery.
Main topic of conversation at the start: The Prof turned up on one of his vintage, small-wheeled convert-a-bikes, a pre-war, iron model that had somehow survived the cull of frying pans and railings in the drive for scrap metal to build more Spitfires.
This model came replete with a chainring the size of a Frisbee and after being repeatedly asked what size it was the Prof had to resort to counting its teeth. This kept him (and all his fingers and toes) occupied for a good 5 minutes.
He then took to covetously stroking his very worn, super-smooth saddle, and then the saddle of the bike next to him to compare the two. Unfortunately this bikes rider, our FNG, was sitting on his saddle at the time and I had to explain this wasn’t some weird, North East cycle club hazing, or initiation routine involving the fondling of each new guy’s posterior.
Taffy Steve, having wrapped his titanium love-child up in cotton wool and settled it down for a long hibernation, used some of the ire generated by having to ride his thrice-cursed winter bike to curse me in turn for gambling with the weather and having the audacity to turn up on Reg.
In my defence I explained my Peugeot winter bike had just given a very Gallic shrug and said, “Non.” He reminded me what happened last year when I pushed riding the good bike too long, and trashed it sliding out on a corner and taking him down with me.
Good point? Yes.
Prescient? Hmm, maybe.
Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop: Taffy Steve was extolling the virtues of the Rolo and Toblerone tray bake. I was expecting something that looked like a 3D Playstation controller, with little pyramids and spheres emerging like an exotic countline Venus out of a sea of chocolate, (□Δ○Δ○□), but it was flat and kind of dull, so I passed.
Discussing the case of a couple of local Sport and Psychology students who’d become seriously ill after OD’ing on massive quantities of self-administered caffeine, Ether suggested some very simple rules for experiments that even a Sport and Psychology student might be able to comprehend:
Step 1. Test on small furry critter. If adverse effects occur, stop.
Step 2. Test on a friend. If adverse effects occur, stop.
Step 3. If all previous indicators are positive, perhaps there may be a case for self-administered testing. If a positive outcome is indicated, make sure you understand how to calculate and measure out the right quantities, or have someone on hand (your Mum, maybe or another responsible adult) to help. Taking a small dose of caffeine to sharpen the mind enough to measure out the correct quantities is perhaps not recommended.
OGL stopped by to tell us that as the clocks were going back one hour to account for the rather strangely titled “UK Daylight Saving Time,” then club run times would also change. Sunday Club Runs will now meet up at 09.30 for a 09.30 start, although the time for Saturday runs will continue to be 09.00, obviously for a 09.15 start. Huh?
I await with great interest the miraculous change in cyclist behaviour that’s going to see our Sunday runs’ meet up at 09.30 and be anywhere near ready to roll out any time before 09.44.
I managed to commute by bike on four out of five days in a vain attempt to try and make up for missing the club run last week. With my ratbag MTB in the LBS for a desperately needed service, this was mainly achieved astride the Peugeot winter bike, although it did include a novel, but ultimately unsuccessful experiment with a single-speed hack that turned into an uphill duathlon when the chain kept slipping off under pressure.
Having eagerly watched the weather forecasts change on a daily basis, Saturday dawned, cold, blustery and grey, with the threat of a few chilly showers, but without the likelihood of any prolonged rain. A gamble then, but having had enough of the Peugeot for one week I felt I was owed one last blast on the carbon steed.
Perhaps more by luck than good judgement I got the clothing right for once; long sleeved base layer and jersey, shorts, leg warmers, thick socks, Belgian booties and long-fingered gloves. I even defied the weather gods and decided against packing a waterproof for that “just in case” scenario.
This week in the People’s Republic of Yorkshire, what the locals like to refer to as “Gods Own Country” –along with, oh at least a dozen other places that I know of dotted around the globe – (they may be the “chosen” of God, but they get no prizes for originality) – the venerable Toshi San is busy looking for a new club after bitter internecine fighting and a bloody coup of senior members ripped his old one apart.
One group he trialled uses its Faecesbook page to not only update ride information, but provide weather forecasts and recommendations about what to wear! Toshi San was somewhat bemused by this, declaring that he’s been able to dress himself since his schooldays and grown lads and lasses shouldn’t need to be told what to wear.
If he’d turned up at our meeting point he might well have reconsidered, there were at least 3 or 4 riders still in shorts, with legs marbled like corned beef, several more with bare hands tucked firmly into armpits, while the Prof wore a rain-jacket which he later admitted kept him constantly on the threshold of over-heating.
It was then a fairly decent turnout of 24 lads and lasses, several blatantly defying the elements, who pushed off, clipped in and headed out, with a couple of late comers tagging onto the back of our line as we rolled away.
These included the luckless Dabman, still less than sanguine about riding in a group after suffering a broken collar bone when he was brought off by another rider during our last “Man Down” incident. This had closely followed his recovery from a broken wrist when he went over on the ice on a winter run out. He later admitted he’d just come out for a confidence-building, solo ride, but saw us leaving and decided he might as well tag along anyway.
I slotted in alongside one of the university students who I didn’t recognise as a Saturday club run regular and got chatting to him about Amsterdam, Copenhagen, postgraduate law degrees (as you do) and (inevitably) the weather. Somewhere along the line he mentioned he was a little concerned about a mismatched rear tyre that didn’t seem to be affording him much grip.
The ride was visited by a few short lived light rain showers, that didn’t really dampen our enjoyment, but did just enough to make the road surfaces slimy and slippery. Rounding a fairly innocuous corner my companion was just telling me he could feel his rear wheel stepping-out on the bend when there was a clatter, a thud and a thump as three or four riders in a line behind us all went down.
I turned around to find several bikes strewn across the road and Ovis curled up around his wrist which had taken the brunt of his fall. I did a quick double-check – but thankfully there was no stray farmyard livestock around him needing to be cornered and corralled. I recovered his bike for him, to find both brake levers now pointing sharply inward like the converging guns on a fighter, giving him point harmonisation at about 30 metres from his front wheel, or an enemy bogie.
I was also somewhat concerned to see Dab Man had assumed an all too familiar position, sitting to one side of the road with his bike abandoned on the other and sporting a much muddied and streaked shoulder on an otherwise clean white jersey. He assured me he was ok and was at pains to explain that (again) it wasn’t his fault.
Luckily all of the damage seemed fairly superficial, although I suspect there may be a few sore bodies later on as a consequence of all the unbridled man-meets-road action. We managed to bang Ovis’s brake levers back around to give his bike some semblance of normality, and he wiped the blood from his brow, pocketed his smashed specs and pressed bravely on.
Not surprisingly at the split all those who had hit the deck opted for the shorter, more direct route to the café, along with the unlikely accompaniment of the Red Max. This had me wondering if the once irrepressible Red Max is starting to feel threatened by the improving strength and form of the Monkey Butler Boy, a.k.a. Red Max Junior. Dare I suggest he cut short his ride because he wanted to keep a little extra something back for their planned jaunt out together on Sunday?
As if relieved and reprieved from escaping the crash, the remainder of the group pressed on at some pace, occasionally splintering and reforming across a number of climbs and descents. At one point beZ skipped lightly past me on a hill and wondered aloud if I’d started a slightly worrying trend for wearing Belgian national colours.
Enough people then rode up to ask me if I’d gone down in the crash that I began to feel equal parts paranoia and survivors guilt. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on their part?
As I crested the Quarry Climb I could feel the rear wheel losing traction as I rocked out of the saddle, so eased off and decided instead to save a little for the last climb up to the Snake Bends. I tucked in behind the leaders as we swept down to the T-junction, then on the first rise after the turn I jumped over Keel, and left him behind as I pounded onwards, trying to to keep the momentum going on the long drag up to the next junction.
As I closed on the junction however Taffy Steve cruised effortlessly up alongside on the thrice-cursed winter bike, with a, “Is that it?” quizzical look and I realised I hadn’t dropped anyone and it wasn’t going to be my day.
Together with Taffy Steve we fruitlessly tried chasing G-Dawg down through the side lanes, while others took the more direct route to the café, the pressing need for cake outweighing the unpleasantness of battling with the high-speed traffic along the main road.
On leaving the café I dropped to the back of the first group on the road home, occasionally chatting with a still chipper, if slightly begrimed Dabman and Cushty. We were wondering where the rest of the group were, how much of a handicap they’d given us and just where exactly they would catch and overtake us.
It was actually later than we thought when an express driven by Shoeless and G-Dawg steamed past. I swung onto the back of this train and rode it through to my turn off, where I was dumped ungraciously into a stiff headwind for the lone grind home.
Hmm, winter bikes only next week? (Maybe.)
YTD Totals: 5,322 km/ 3,260 miles with 60,139 metres of climbing.