Club Run, Good Friday 25th March, 2016
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 104 km/65 miles with 863 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 7 minutes
Average Speed: 25.3 km/h
Group size: 26 riders
Weather in a word or two: Bright ‘n’ breezy
Main topic of conversation at the start:
Mea Culpa#1 the BFG corrected last week’s story regarding his wheels on fire, they weren’t the carbon on carbon model from his new uber-bike that he tried to spontaneously combust, but in fact the fabled, some might even say mythical wooden rims.
Speaking of carbon wheels, someone complimented G-Dawg on his new hoops and wondered if he’d sold his inner ring to pay for them. The proposed advert would have made interesting and somewhat paradoxical reading – for sale, one inner chain ring in pristine, immaculate condition, has done 8,000 miles, but has never been used.
There was no music in the cafes at night, but there was revolution in the air as we waited for OGL to roll up past the allotted start-time. Someone suggested just moving our meeting point to the other side of the bus stop, convinced this small act of rebellion alone would be enough for OGL’s head to explode and for him to start muttering darkly about schisms and breakaway groups in the club.
He finally deigned to roll-up at around 9.33, but if we’d dared to leave on time we’d still be hearing about it now.
I had a brief chuckle with Crazy Legs about Nacer Bouhani, winning the first two stages of the Volta a Catalunya, leading the entire race and points classification, but suddenly feeling so ill that he had to abandon as soon as the tips of the mountains pricked the horizon. He then miraculously recovered enough in time to ride Gent-Wevelgem, over 200 km of super-hard racing. So much for honouring the leader’s jersey.
Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop:
Mea Culpa#2 the Prof informed me he did not cart away the fantastic booty of a lost and forlorn Sealskinz glove, as his persistence paid off and he eventually managed to track down its owner – none other than Zardoz, the unlikeliest Cinderella you could possibly imagine.
Reunited with his errant gauntlet at least saved him from riding home with one cold hand while looking like a wannabe Michael Jackson and perhaps it saved everyone else from being subjected to his angry dark-side. I’m not wholly convinced that the Prof didn’t return for the decapitated and eviscerated deer carcass as a sop to his disappointment though.
The elusive Bearded Collie spent time bemoaning the fact that Schwalbe no longer make orange tyres as his original set now appear to be disintegrating from lack of use. He’s busy looking desperately for replacements that will match his frame and save him from reverting to plain and dowdy “just black.”
He also remarked that the time since his last ride with us hadn’t mellowed OGL’s personable, accommodating, benevolent and very sunny outlook. Someone likened OGL to Pol Pot and speculated that club meetings would be over in a snap as he filled all the posts on the committee: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary et al. Others disagreed though reasoning that OGL could start an argument in a Trappist monastery and probably has to spend huge amounts of time disagreeing with himself.
The Red Max and partner in crime the Monkey Butler Boy were under an ultimatum to clear the conservatory of bikes and bike parts as the rest of the family couldn’t get at the furniture. Aveline slyly suggested the problem wasn’t too many bikes, but too much furniture. For the sake of Max’s continued good health I hope that’s not a line of argument he chooses to pursue.
Meanwhile he’s busily entertaining himself constructing an enormous ziggurat of used and useless bottom brackets (I say useless, but he’s convinced they all still have “some life” left in them). He’s also collected enough lengths of used bike chain to bind Prometheus to the mountain, certain he’ll find a use for it all. Eventually.
Good Friday was indeed good and looked like being the best day of the Easter weekend. Despite the chill the sky was a high blue vault, randomly studded with the odd, benevolent looking cotton wool cloud and the sun was bright if not warm.
I dropped into valley and chased down a fellow cyclist, drawing in to recognise the Castelli clad back of the benevolent stranger who had appeared to provide me with shelter from a vicious headwind in a ride under very different conditions (Vittoria’s Secret and the Cold Hand Gang, Feb 1.)
Before we split for different routes we had a brief chat and discovered that, like the Ee-Em-Cee rider I randomly encounter, he too was yet another former member and now fugitive of our club. He admired Reg and asked if I was a Barry Sheene fan (I wasn’t) as apparently he used a black, red and yellow livery on his bikes. Well, you learn something every day.
Later, hurtling downhill to race the changing lights through a junction I swept past Shouty heading in the opposite direction and apparently already recovered from her broken femur. She was looking resplendent in her new club’s kit and no doubt off to grind out some hard solo miles.
Despite the chill edge to the wind, there were plenty out wearing shorts, but I have to admit it’s still far too cold to even consider exposing these ancient joints to the elements. As usual time hanging around at the meeting place gave everything the chance to seize up slightly and then it took even longer when riding to warm up and turn with any degree of fluidity.
As a decently large group of 29 riders pushed off, clipped in and rode out, I noticed Aveline was out with us for the 3rd or 4th time and in danger of losing her FNG status. I also saw that the elusive Bearded Collie was back with us after a massively long absence of probably a year or so – the Red Max spotted him too and wryly noted that now he knew it was officially Easter.
As I drifted through the group I had a brief chat with Laurelan, who was having a bit of trouble with her bike which she’d ridden all through the winter and decided was now in rather desperate need of some TLC at the LBS. She was even attempting to barter gardening skills for cycle maintenance help among the more mechanically capable.
As we pushed out into the countryside we were treated to the years first sighting of Szell, sneaking past, head down and going in the opposite direction, obviously recently awoken from the slumber of deep hibernation and getting in secret training miles so he can put us all to the sword when he decides to next ride with the club.
At some point Laurelan’s front derailleur threw a hissy fit, decided it had done enough for the day and refused to budge. OGL called a halt and thanks to over 50 years of cycle maintenance and professional mechanical knowledge was quickly able to identify the problem and present a precise expert diagnosis; “It’s fucked.”
Now fully enlightened, Laurelan had to make the difficult choice of staying in the inner ring, which would get her up the Quarry climb, but was likely to get her dropped as the speed ramped up toward the café, or choose the big ring and grind and grovel up the climb.
She made her choice and we got going again as I found myself on the front with Captain Black. We were soon swinging right and started the run up to the Quarry, keeping the pace high all the way to the top, where an expected attack from the racing snakes strangely failed to materialise.
Regrouping after the climb, the suggestion seemed to be OGL was planning an extended solo route and was turning off to leave us to our own devices. I’m pretty certain I heard someone say, “Let’s go!”
So I did.
Without really thinking about it I’d accelerated away, as if channelling my inner Red Max with a stupidly long, Forlorn Hope attack, opening up a sizeable gap while those behind just looked on and wondered what the hell I was doing. I must admit to thinking pretty much the same thing myself.
Mea Culpa#3 and apologies all. Apparently my sudden rush of blood to the head (or the legs?) caused a complete disintegration of group order and much shouting from an apoplectic OGL. I say apparently, because I was too far down the road to have actually heard anything, so I’m relying on a bunch of decidedly unreliable witnesses.
I counted the frames my camera took during this madcap venture – there were 30 shots between my escaping the group and the Hammer finally catching my back wheel just as I braked for the Snake Bends. Given the camera is set to take an image every 20 seconds, then I had 10 minutes of solo riding, not daring to look back and wondering where everyone else had gone to, if I’d taken a wrong turn, or if they’d all collectively decided to just head elsewhere and leave me hanging out on my own like an idiot.
My solo break seemed a hell of a lot longer than 10 minutes to me, even as I was trying not to go full bore so I had a little something in reserve for when I was inevitably caught. As it was I was first to the Bends, first to the T-Junction and second on the scamper up the last hill toward the café. I’ll take that any day.
At the café we tried sitting in the garden for a while, but it was just a bit too chilly and when even the Scottish folk declared it was too cold to sit out we admitted defeat and sloped back inside.
On the way home we came across a stricken Prof and Mrs. Prof, marooned at the side of the road with a severe mechanical. Someone asked if they needed help, but the Prof suggested what they needed was more in the way of a taxi and waved us on.
Approaching Berwick Hill I was riding along 2nd wheel, chatting amiably with the Hammer when something went flying from the bike to tumble away. I slowed and swung over to the side of the road, letting everyone past as I went to retrieve what turned out to be the cap off my bottle. Although somewhat annoyed at having to stop, I realise it could have been a lot worse, I’d never have lived it down if I’d tried to use the bottle and poured the entire contents down my front.
Having found and secured the errant cap I turned around to find Big Dunc had stopped as well, suspecting I’d had a mechanical and everyone had just abandoned me. That was good as it meant I didn’t have to try and chase back on, and together we set a decent pace sweeping up a few stragglers along the way.
Splitting from the group the return was straightforward and without incident. Let’s see what effects my efforts have tomorrow, when it’s the usual Saturday Club Run with limited recovery time.
YTD Totals: 1,606 km /990 miles with 16,238 metres of climbing