Club Run, Saturday 23rd April, 2016
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 113 km / 70 miles with 1,063 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 24 minutes
Average Speed: 25.6 km/h
Group size: 34 riders, 3 FNG’s
Weather in a word or two: Beautifully bright, bitterly cold
Main topic of conversation at the start:
With a degree of mild, but surely misplaced approbation, OGL called out several riders he’d spotted out riding mid-week, as if they’d been caught doing something they shouldn’t have and were standing accused of getting in “unauthorised” secret miles.
The Prof once again rolled up on the Frankenbike, eliciting gasps of disbelief from those who hadn’t seen his progression from small-wheeled velocipede to a grown up bike last week. He gave me a special hug, ostensibly because I was well dressed and co-ordinated (Bertie Bassett rides again) -although I suspect the real reason was that Crazy Legs was late arriving and I was simply the nearest target for his latent, but still patently simmering homo-eroticism.
Crazy Legs did finally turn up and commended the group for a fine showing of club jerseys. A sotto voce commentary from Son of G-Dawg suggested that the 6 on show were about 75% of the total number who would wear the club jersey with any kind of regularity. I’m not sure whether or not he was double-counting G-Dawg who was actually wearing two – an official club gilet over a Grogs unofficial one.
OGL then took several of youngsters and no few elder statesmen to task for wearing shorts, declaring it was still much too cold for exposed knee joints. Many suggested they had packed away winter clothing for the year in boxes, in under bed stores, the loft or in old steamer trunks and it was too much hassle to revert now. It was also suggested that not everyone had the luxury of living in OGL manse, where entire rooms, if not complete wings are devoted to his vast collection of readily accessible and seasonally themed bicycling apparel.
OGL mentioned Shane Sutton’s dismissal of Jess Varnish (and I think I’m only paraphrasing slightly here) as having a fat ass and needing to go away and produce babies. G-Dawg was unimpressed, but reasoned you shouldn’t expect much else if you’re foolish enough to promote an Australian to a position of power and authority.
Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:
At the counter I happened to hear an FNG asking the girls whether he should be getting a mug or a cup of coffee and had to intervene for the sake of decency. We are men, we drink from manly mugs.
As he’d defected from another club and embraced his dark side I was curious to find out how we compared us to his previous band of brothers. As expected his former club took the novel approach of splitting into many different rides according to ability and publishing all the routes well before the day.
This had the advantage of allowing people to plan things in advance, but at the obvious expense of surprise and novelty, or as Andeven explained, the joy of looking up to find you’re suddenly in Rothbury, 40 miles from home and expected back for an important family engagement in the next half an hour.
I asked the Pinarello riding FNG, Dogmatix what bike he had before, interested to know just how much of an upgrade the uber-bike was and how it actually compared to a more affordable option. He said he’d ridden a Carrera previously. Well, that was a conversational dead-end then.
Dogmatix then revealed that when he’d stopped to tighten his seat post last week someone had pointed out a washer on the ground that he’d reasoned wasn’t from his bike, but had picked up and slipped into his pocket just in case.
This morning he’d found that it was an essential part for holding together his multi-tool. He’s now gone from being the proud owner of a convenient, quality multi-tool to having two bits of steel case and a loose collection of jangling allen keys and screwdriver bits in his pockets.
A dry day, bright and sunny – if bitterly cold and infinitely preferable to the past few Saturdays dreich and bleak showing (they rhyme by the way, if you’re wondering how to pronounce dreich :))
A rare confluence of decent weather, work load and family commitments had allowed me to commute into work 4 times during the week. These journeys had warned that the mornings were still very chilly, but there was at least a possibility that things would warm up enough to be pleasant later.
My commutes had been good rides, other than a strong headwind all the way home on Monday and the fact that on Thursday morning I’d wrapped my bike lock around my frame, but completely missed the bike rack.
Luckily Campus Security spotted my dunderheaded idiocy and slapped on one of their own locks to secure the bike. I’d then been somewhat taken aback to hear the ratbag mountain bike described as “expensive” when I went to get the lock removed. Then again, maybe it just looks good in comparison to some of the bikes our students use.
There was a big group of us at the meeting point on Saturday, including a few faces I’d not seen for months including Famous Sean’s an irregular will-o-the-wisp who occasionally graces us with his presence. This was perhaps the first indication that the long months of cycling hibernation is at last coming to an end, although one swallow doesn’t make a decent drink as the parched sailor said. As a counterbalance there were a few noticeable absences amongst the regulars, with The Red Max away on holiday and Taffy Steve strangely and silently AWOL.
As we started out I found myself riding alongside the Prof who enquired if I’d ever had any issues with the Frankenbike’s bottom bracket. The loud and disturbing creaking from “down there” persuaded me not to hang around in case it ultimately disintegrated and a quick rotation brought me up alongside Richard of Flanders.
He was celebrating as he’d inadvertently found and secured a rare Strava KOM while riding a tatty hybrid to school to pick up the kids. This gave me the idea of hauling my bike over next doors front gate and riding up their drive to see if I can secure an unassailable Strava KOM of my own. I think it could even earn me a Charly Gaul-like nickname, how about “L’Ange de Allées” or “The Angel of the Driveways.”
Yet another rotation found me alongside Son of G-Dawg and I complimented him on a perfectly aero bike, deep section carbon wheels, and skin-tight jersey, but had to ask what had gone wrong with the sloppy, baggy socks that negated all his marginal aero-gains and resembled saggy welly tops that had been set to flutter in the wind like twin drogue parachutes.
Apparently he’d forgotten to do the weekly laundry and scratting around in the back of his drawers to try and find anything suitable to wear, the socks were the best he could come up with. He admitted he’d also tried in extremis to dry his jersey by hanging it in the back of the car on the drive over, but it was still unpleasantly damp around the edges. He was obviously hoping it didn’t rain otherwise he’d start foaming and secreting a trail of soap suds behind him.
Not to be outdone, one of the youngsters in front was wearing hideous, putrid green socks decorated with big bloodshot eyeballs that seemed to be staring right at me. I guess the good old days when the only socks you could wear would be white and you’d be pulled from the start line of a race for any wardrobe transgressions are sadly no more.
I overheard Crazy Legs discussing Captain Scarlet and suggesting he drove an SPV or “Special Patrol Vehicle” and had to jump in to correct him – as we all know Captain Scarlet actually drove a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (c’mon kids, keep up). I think this exchange just convinced Richard of Flanders that all cyclists are at heart deeply weird nerds.
At one point OGL drifted aimlessly back through the group, seemingly just to disrupt everyone. A few minutes later he was sprinting back up to the front, going round a blind corner on the wrong side of the road. Son of G-Dawg called out that there was a fast approaching car, but OGL blithely waved off the warning before swooping inside. Son of G-Dawg growled that he didn’t care if OGL tried to ride over the onrushing car – but he was worried by the sudden swoop back across the road that had everyone scrabbling for brakes.
With the club organised Sloan Trophy set for Sunday, OGL was intent on reconnoitring the route as a final check that everything was in good shape for the next day’s racing. This led us down the Quarry Climb, where a whimpering, vacillating BFG was so eager to escape the longer, harder, faster group that he felt compelled to dive recklessly away in pursuit of the amblers, brushing incredibly close to G-Dawg, if not in fact physically jostling him as he passed.
This would have been the perfect opportunity for Crazy Legs to prove his maturity by shouting, “Feck off you big feck” or something equally as erudite and witty, but sadly he’d already turned off for the café with a bad case of un jour sans.
Ahead, at the junction we saw the amblers turning left while our longer, harder, faster group went right. I joined G-Dawg on the front pushing into a vicious headwind as we ground our way toward the top of the Ryals – this was perhaps going to be the only day when riding down them was almost as hard as climbing up.
Just before the top Mad Colin called a halt as, for the second time in as many outings, Dogmatix found his seatpost slipping. Bloody cheap Pinarello’s. We waited, but people began to get impatient and started to slip away in ones and twos to stream down the descent.
I held back a little longer, then as things seemed sorted pushed over the brow and began to accelerate downward. I moved onto the drops and tucked in, quickly building up speed as gravity sucked us down and hitting a max of 67.7kmph according to my Garmin, despite the headwind.
Halfway down I saw G-Dawg wrestling manfully with his bike, his whole body rigid and shaking and his wheels oscillating savagely as he tried to ship speed and remain in control. I couldn’t tell if his deep-section wheels had caught a sudden crosswind or he’d developed an uncontrollable speed wobble – either way I gave him as much room as possible, sweeping right across the roadway to slide past.
Somehow an ashen G-Dawg managed to complete the descent, but couldn’t be persuaded to climb back up and try again. We regrouped as we swung right onto a narrow farm track and started to climb up again, where we caught and merged with the riders who’d slipped off the front. More climbing and then a bit more followed, before the road finally levelled and we pushed on at high speed for the run in to the café.
I was sitting behind Laurelan as the pace increased and saw she was slowly starting to detach from the riders in front. I cut inside and clung onto G-Dawgs rear wheel as he and Moscas wound the pace up further. With the road starting to dip down a small group managed to open up a gap and we pulled slowly away.
Son of G-Dawg jumped, but I was at terminal velocity and couldn’t have come around G-Dawg to chase if I’d wanted to. Moscas then slowly faded and dropped away and just when it looked like Son of G-Dawg’s break was decisive, Captain Black thundered past to challenge and they raced each other down and into the Snake Bends.
Crossing the main road, we dropped into single file to slalom around the potholes that made the lane look like a recently bombed lunar surface. There was then just the chance for one last burst up the sharp rise to the junction and we were done and rolling through to the café.
On the way home I dropped in beside Captain Black for a chat and to try to discover the secret of his hugely rampaging form; was it drugs, clean living, motor doping, or perhaps three Shredded Wheat for breakfast?
He said it was nothing exotic, just hard work in the gym and, as his temporary gym membership is due to run out soon, he suggested he’ll soon be returning to join me amongst the ranks of the also-rans. Damn, I was hoping for an easy to follow short-cut to good form, but there’s no chance in hell you’ll get me into a gym.
I completed my trip home in good time and without incident to find anniversary greetings from WordPress in my email. I was somewhat surprised to learn I’ve been plugging away at this blog thing for a full year. Tempus fugit?
So, I guess now’s a good time to thank anyone who’s managed to stumble upon this benighted backwater of the Internet, has put up with my verbose, inane ramblings, actually “liked” the odd post or two, added erudite comments, or even bravely signed up as a follower.
One year, 64 posts, 4,711 hits, 1,943 visitors and counting. It’s all quite humbling. Thank you.
YTD Totals: 2,250 km / 1,398 miles with 21,081 metres of climbing
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