Club Run, Saturday 31st October, 2015
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 107 km/66 miles with 884 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 07 minutes
Group size: 30 riders with no FNG’s
Weather in a word or two: Astonishingly mild.
Main topic of conversation at the start: As I rolled up to the meeting place the BFG told me I looked like Fausto Coppi. Normally I would have been insufferably pleased at such a compliment as surely no rider has ever looked as elegant as the languid and composed Il Campionissimo. In this instance however it just made me question the BFG’s suspect eyesight.
My suspicion’s regarding his lack of ocular acuity were further confirmed when he told me he spent most of last Sunday’s club run admiring another riders leg warmers, which he thought were the acme of form-fitting apparel and style, perfectly moulded to the riders physique and showing every bulging muscle and sinew. He was just about to ask where he could buy a pair of leg warmers just like them, when the Prof pointed out he was actually looking at the legs of one of the black guys who was only wearing shorts.
The BFG then went on to tell me that in his world torque wrenches and washers were all redundant, information the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator may be interested in.
Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop:
The Red Max kept us royally entertained, first with the tales of last Sunday’s club run when an encounter with a local Tri-Club led to a bit of competitive drag racing that blew the two groups apart and caused chaos down Berwick Hill, or as Zippy commented near the road to the Cheese Cake. He did correct himself and obviously meant the Cheese Farm, but I like the thought of a road to Cheese Cake so much that I’ve pinched it.
Red Max then moved on to his ultra-competitive, turbo-training sessions with the Monkey Butler Boy (aka Red Max Junior) which have seemingly become a source of marital discord. These used to be played out across dual turbo’s set up in front of the TV, with the protagonists vying to see who can pedal fastest while simultaneously trying to frag each other online in Call of Duty. Unfortunately a liberal coating of oil to a new chain led to the last contest spraying an arc of oil from chainset to ceiling, like the spray of blood in a bad slasher movie.
To compound the issue, Mrs. Max returned home one night to find Max and the Monkey Butler Boy sitting in the middle of the living room floor with Max’s dirty bike spread out in pieces all around them. Max couldn’t quite understand what the furore was all about, as he phlegmatically suggested, “It wasn’t as if we were watching hardcore porn while she was out.” Needless to say bikes and bikers are now banned from the living room.
With OGL being absent we looked to Grover for oberleutnant and enforcer duties. He was late appearing in the café queue, perhaps as he was outside inspecting bikes and taking down the names of all those without mudguards.
We idly wondered if other cycling clubs were run like the Cosa Nostra, with an all-powerful Capo, but didn’t talk about it too loudly in case we woke up to find a sawn-off set of handlebars sharing the bed with us.
And so it’s time put away bright shiny carbon things and coax the reluctant and recalcitrant Peugeot winter bike out of “le sulk”. I feel that half the battle with continuing to ride throughout the winter is not to have a bike that you hate so much you can’t bring yourself to swing a leg over it, that’s just putting one more barrier in the way of riding – as if the rain, wind, freezing cold, ice, dark, pot-holed and filthy, crappy roads aren’t disincentive enough. (Remind me again why I do this?)
So we’ve entered a period of entente cordiale where I’m trying to make the Peugeot feel loved and wanted, after all it’s going to be a long few months where I rely on it. On Saturday for example we celebrated the birthday of Philippe de Vitry, French composer, poet, and theorist and breakfasted on pain au raisin and warm brioche. Meanwhile Alizée, Mylene Farmer, The Dø, and Yelle have all been on heavy rotation on the iPod.
(In keeping with the Gallic theme, on Friday night I watched The Returned – it’s started a bit slow and it’s not quite up to the standards of the first series yet, but it does still feature super-creepy kid Victor, who bears a striking resemblance to Alberto Contador.)
I’ve even tried to curry favour with the Peugeot through lavish, hopeful gifts– gone are the no-name brakes for something with a bit more stopping power and I’ve recently bought a new pair of shiny Cinelli bar end plugs and some Schwalbe Durano tyres. I haven’t fitted the tyres yet but hope will prove as puncture resistant as the Gatorskin Ultra’s are have been, while providing a little more grip.
So that’s it – we’re all geared up for winter and good to go. Now let’s see what the weather’s going to throw at us…
If today is an example though, I think we’ll be all right. Heavy rain throughout Friday left the roads wet and with lots of surface water everywhere, but the day was mild, generally still and pleasant.
The kit was pretty much the same as last week, long sleeve jersey, base layer, shorts leg warmers and long-fingered gloves. The only difference was I swapped the Belgian booties for waterproof shoe covers. Yet again I was surprised to see a number still out in their shorts. Brave, foolish, or just considerably younger than I am, I guess.
OGL, G-Dawg and a few others were up in Jockland for the Braveheart Dinner and with Crazy Legs suffering from sustained, serious jet lag it was left to Red Max and Taffy Steve to lead us out into the unknown. A good group of 30 lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and took the road out west.
Our regular lane out into the countryside was awash with debris; gravel, leaves, hedge trimmings and who knows what else, and sure enough we had only left it a couple of mile behind when Shoeless pulled over with a puncture. We rolled past as he stopped to make repairs, and turned off the main route, ironically on the road to Cheese Cake.
I was sitting comfortably perched on the crossbar, chatting with Taffy Steve while we waited and just happened to mention that I was surprised we only had the one puncture as I idly stabbed a thumb into my front tyre. This turned out to be a big mistake as the tyre was suspiciously squishy and would have given a ride I could only describe as plush.
Whipping out a new tube I set to work, and I was still wrestling to replace a particularly recalcitrant tyre by the time Shoeless rejoined. Zardoz then took pity on my effete weakness (damn, I broke a nail as well) and utilised his “pincers of steel” fingers to neatly and effortlessly pop the tyre back onto the rim for me.
I declined Crazy Legs’s kind offer of a lend of his molto piccolo, Blackburn Airstick and used Taffy Steves mighty frame pump to give my upper body an intense workout, harder than any of the pedalling I done up to that point. (Following the Crazy Legs tradition, I popped my track pump onto the tyre when I got home to discover my considerable and most strenuous efforts had driven a massive, awe inspiring 50 psi into the tyre.)
Under way again we passed the landed gentry, striding out intent on slaughtering the local wildlife. Usually this takes the form of a hunt – all horse faced people on, well, horse-faced horses (what did you expect?). This week however it was a shooting party, all goofy tweed jackets, baggy, three quarter-length “trizers”, flat caps and shiny Purdey’s, strolling down the middle of the road and out to “bag a grice or two.” They seemed unconscionably cheerful about what they were doing.
We split at the junction to the Quarry, with a few of the racing snakes heading for a long, fast descent and then a corresponding long haul back uphill. I noticed the FNG from last week got sucked in by the Siren Song of the Racing Snakes and went with them. I silently wished him luck.
Split made, the pace was pushed higher and higher and I sat on Zardoz’s wheel as he dragged us up toward the front. With the group heading for the “Snake Bends” route to the café (not favourable terrain for me) I decided to blast the Quarry Climb instead, and hit the front on the last steep ramp, managing to pull clear and hang on with my nose in front as we crested and swung right. I even managed to net a Strava PR of 4:41 for the climb.
As we hit a long drag, followed by a few fast descents I again found myself on the front negotiating a particularly hazardous, gravel-strewn corner. I drove on through a couple of junctions and more slight rises that all felt like major cols and hung out front until the road levelled and Red Max led the charge past me and down to the Snake Bends. Great fun.
On the ride home Shoeless and I commiserated together about having to repair punctures in front of everyone and amidst all the sharp intakes of breath, head-shaking, tutting and “You don’t do it like that” comments. Still, it’s character forming … isn’t it?
So far, so good…
YTD Totals: 5,322 km/ 3,260 miles with 60,139 metres of climbing.