Club Run, Saturday 27th February, 2016
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 97 km/60 miles with 940 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Average Speed: 23.3 km/h
Group size: 16 riders, no FNG’s
Weather in a word or two: Brittle
Main topic of conversation at the start:
Eschewing his love of all things esoteric, eccentric and vintage, the BFG rolled up and right into the 21st Century on a new bike made of all things carbon, with added carbon and featuring absolutely no naturally occurring or biodegradable substances whatsoever. No wood, no leather, no cotton, no latex, nor steel, no cork, no bamboo, no graphite, no ivory, bone, ambergris, yak hair nor elephant scrotum. What? My world was instantly turned upside down.
His new love is a second-hand, immaculately kept Scott Team Foil in a size that’s so big it can only be referred to by a series of Roman numerals – in other words it’s as big as the Superbowl, although I see even the all-encompassing pomposity of the “World Championship” of American Football has had to admit defeat and dumb itself down as its fans couldn’t cope with Peyton Place Manning and the Denver Broncos winning Superbowl L.
Apparently the BFG was in serial domestic trouble on several fronts, it was bad enough that he announced he was buying a new bike, Mrs BFG is almost used to that, but she got a shock when he spent 100 times more than he usually does and then turned up with just a large lump of plastic – he might as well have traded his money for a handful of magic beans…
Then he was caught gazing lovingly at Mrs. BFG throughout the evening, only for her to finally realise his eyes were actually directed over her shoulder and into the conservatory where his new, shiny bike was sitting and winking back at him. Oh dear.
It reminded me of the time one our guys bought and fell in love with a super-smart Dolan with a custom paint job. “Does it sleep in the same bed?” I innocently asked.
“Doesn’t your wife object?”
“Well, no, she’s too busy standing guard downstairs.”
Taffy Steve then recoiled in absolute horror from the saddle on the Scott Foil which was nothing but a thin sliver of razor sharp carbon fibre and “just not right.”
Like signalling the end to an uneasily held ceasefire, a number of riders turned up on their best, summer bikes seeking to rival the BFG’s new mount in the bling stakes. Their argument, it’ll officially be Spring in a few days anyway. Then OGL turned up to inform us that Shouty had slipped over on black ice mid-week and broken her femur, so it would be fair to say winter isn’t over yet.
I was hoping that OGL might adopt a mock Churchillian voice (the PM, obviously, not the stupid insurance dog) and intone with suitable gravitas, “No this is not the end of winter. It is not even the beginning of the end of winter. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning of winter …”
It was mentioned that the Prof was absent because he was in the Lakes where he was promising to do some hill intervals with beZ. Someone then wanted to know how often he would need a pee stop and whether his records would need adjusting for “micturition time.”
Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop:
Perhaps celebrating a new job, Keel not only devoured one cake, but then went back for a second slice. His choice was warmly applauded by Taffy Steve who displayed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the calorific content of all cakes and confectionery, declaring anything with Bounty as an integral ingredient was likely to be up there with the best.
Meanwhile the venerable Toshi San is still looking to find a new club in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire. He rejected the last one as too effete when he learned they’d bought custom-mudguards in club colours and spent all their time posting photos on Faecesbookof their café stop tea and scones. I naturally couldn’t resist sending him a text with a photo of my cake and coffee, but being a total Luddite he couldn’t work out how to open the attachment.
We discussed commuting and the fact that lights, more lights and brighter lights were good, but never seemed to be enough to protect you from inevitable SMIDSY incidents. I’ve been quietly impressed with a new Veglo Commuter X4 rear light I’ve got slung on my backpack, I think it principally works on a WTF basis as drivers slow down to try and work out what the hell it is they’re approaching. Meanwhile, Taffy Steve recommends a directional, helmet mounted light you can shine in drivers’ eyes to try and shake them from their myopic inattention.
I also put in a good word for slime filled inner tubes for commuting, I’ve stuffed a couple onto my ratbag MTB under some slicks and they’ve saved me from having to stop on at least 3 occasions this month as I criminally ignored perilously worn tyres. The only problem I found with these was one seeping wound on my front tyre that sprayed my overshoe with acid green slime before finally sealing, so my foot looked like it had been caught in an unpleasant snot explosion.
With Richard of Flanders out on his new Genesis winter bike, Taffy Steve was lamenting the absence of Crazy Legs as he wanted to see if he could infect a Genesis earworm on him. I somehow suspect Crazy Legs loathes Genesis however, so perhaps the outcome would have been an obscure, unrecognisable Genesis P. Orridge opus rather than a full-on Phil Collins whine. And there perhaps is the last time Throbbing Gristle and cycling will ever sit comfortably side-by-side in the same blog.
As I slung a leg across the Peugeot I was peppered by a sudden burst of hail and assailed by here-we-go-again thoughts, only to be pleasantly surprised when the shower quickly passed. And that was pretty much it for the day, which would turn out to be bitterly cold, but crisp and dry and thankfully ice free.
Half way down the hill an exaggerated hissing usually reserved for the pantomime villain, announced a front puncture and I pulled off the road for repairs. Great start. Conscious of time ticking away, I got back under way and checked my options – press on quickly and hope I could make up lost time, modify my route, or head home and drive to the meeting point?
It had been a fairly slick (well, for me anyway) tyre change, so I decided to press on, but modify my route slightly and use a different bridge. This helped shave around 3 or 4 miles off my journey, but at the expense of bit of high speed traffic surfing along a stretch of dual carriageway.
Back on track and back on time, I started to clamber out the far side of the valley, noticing at this point that I was comfortable apart from the very end of my right index finger that was throbbing with the cold. Odd. Still, it looked like the long-sleeved base layer, thermal jersey, jacket, glove liners, gloves, bib tights, socks and overshoes was about right. Despite the first appearance of “good bikes” at the meeting point it’s still most definitely winter.
I uncharacteristically dropped behind Laurelan and Taffy Steve at the front as we pushed off from the meeting point, clipped in and rode out, chatting with the Red Max as we negotiated the Great North Road Cyclemaze.
We were just agreeing how hard winter had been on brake blocks, with stopping at times disconcertingly variable, when a car unexpectedly whipped around the roundabout toward us. Max nipped across in front of it to the accompaniment of squealing horn, while I got to test my recently recalibrated brakes to their full extent. So far so good – only the slight sideways slide had me at all worried.
With their stint done on the front, Laurelan and Taffy Steve swung over and Max and I slipped through as we took the road to the Cheese Farm. By tacit agreement we both upped the pace as we climbed Bell’s Hill reckoning there was too much chatter, giggling and downright enjoyment going on behind us. Did people really think we were out here for fun?
Over the top, Max rotated off the front and I took up the pace with Rab Dee and then Laurelan again. That worked well as when the call came up that the pace was too high I could immediately and unfairly blame her natural enthusiasm. It was around this time that Taffy Steve remarked that although there was a load of shiny, lightweight “good” bikes out today, they had all been noticeably absent from the front.
Looking back later I discovered that riding on the front with a forward pointing, imitation GoPro made for some very boring shots of empty roads, although I’ll readily admit that the alternative, a series of photos of cyclist’s arses isn’t all that much better. I’m working on trying to fix the camera to my saddle rails pointing backwards, then I should at least be guaranteed lots of shots of my club mates gurning and making obscene gestures behind my back.
At one point we ran up against a Closed Road sign, but OGL airily waved us through and informed us it wouldn’t be closed to us! The arrogance of cyclists, no wonder all the drivers hate us. Still this time he was right and we made it through without the embarrassment of having to turn back or indulge in a spot of impromptu cyclo-cross. We stopped briefly to split the group, with a larger than usual contingent of amblers escaping to take the direct route to the café.
The rest of us pressed on for a longer, harder, faster run that almost immediately split into two groups, with all the shiny summer bikes all pressed to the front and driving the pace.
It was here that I found myself clinging onto G-Dawgs rear wheel and being jeered by the grinning, demonic face that appears on his backside whenever the lack of oxygen makes me light-headed.
I swear he wears those evil-looking, gimlet-eyed, demon-possessed Castelli trews just to taunt me and has his ass-saver deliberately positioned to look like a giant tongue blowing me a massive raspberry as I slip despairingly off his wheel.
This definitely wasn’t the day for fighting it out and I was content to sit up and let a sprint I had no hope of contesting unwind in front of me.
On the return home I fell in with the BFG who was weaving desperately from side to side to avoid getting muddy splashes on his shiny new bike. Although he was suitably impressed that I had a fully trained cadre of ninja ghost-writers willing to take up the cudgel of sardonic club run commentary, he wanted to know where I’d been malingering last week.
I explained I was ill, but had submitted the required sick-note, signed and in triplicate. This then set him to musing about what it might say and he determined that general creeping decrepitude, aged enfeeblement and moral turpitude were the most likely causes for my absence. Sadly, I have a feeling he had the right of it.
He then revealed that last week he’d been blown out the back on the sharp climb up to Dinnington. Hmm, I wonder if it was just coincidence that he then went and dropped a couple of grand on a new shiny bike and has since eschewed all things vintage and elegant for brash, ultra-modern, ultra-light race tech?
I let him go to flex his old legs and new frame chasing down the Dawson twins as we entered the Mad Mile and they began their own private race for first use of the shower. Turning for home proved to be quite pleasant going with the novelty of not having to batter away into a headwind and the final few miles back were ticked off smoothly and without incident.
YTD Totals: 1,034 km /642 miles with 10,306 metres of climbing