Club Run, Good Friday 14th April, 2017
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 66 km / 41 miles with 314 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 2 hours 21 minutes
Average Speed: 27.9 km/h
Group size: 19 no FNG’s
Weather in a word or two: Miserable
With family commitments restricting cycling time, I negotiated a compromise, loaded the bike into the car and drove to the meeting point. This meant I could ride on day 1 of 4 possible club runs without being AWOL too long and make it home without being branded completely unreasonable and anti-social.
Day-release clutched tightly in hand, I joined 19 other hardy souls for an otherwise pleasant ride through a horrible and chilling, constant drizzle.
Main topics of conversation at the start:
Szell continued his return from hibernation with another surprise appearance, but suggested he was out only because he’d seen OGL yesterday and been rather forcibly coerced into riding. Crazy Legs’ deductive reasoning, combined knowledge of OGL’s new bike with the fact that Szell had been the patsy of choice to buy OGL’s hand-me-downs on the past 2 or 3 occasions … and concluded we might be overhearing a bit of a hard sell and some haggling and horse-trading going on at the back of the group today.
While we waited for Our Glorious Leader to put in an appearance we amused ourselves remembering the period when he seemed to fall off with both startling regularity and for no apparent reason. Crazy Legs’s favourite moment was when OGL brought down another rider of, shall we say, generous proportions, who thumped down heavily right on top of him. Ooph!
OGL finally appeared (2 minutes past the deadline, not that anyone was counting). Apparently, he’s trying to take steps to reclaim the club forum from the hackers and is also intent on clearing up the whole club membership debacle. Small steps.
Off we set, out into the miserable sifting, drifting rain and eager for some work to try and warm up I took to the front with Crazy Legs for the first 15km or so. Dropping back, we slotted in behind Szell, who I found now had a small mirror attached to the end of his handlebars, alongside his watch, bike computer and heart rate monitor. I’m surprised he’s got anywhere left to put his hands.
I wondered if the the mirror was focussed solely on his own visage so he could strike heroic poses as he rode along, while Crazy Legs enquired if it also took selfies.
Szell said that he liked to periodically check in the mirror to see if there were other riders behind him and confessed every time he did this and saw he wasn’t last, he counted it as a small moral victory.
The weather continued to be cold, damp and miserable as we carefully negotiated our way around a series of horses and riders. I noticed one of them, a young girl, seemed to be wearing Kevlar body armour or a stab-vest. Perhaps ride-by shootings are becoming a problem out here in the Northumberland Badlands?
We also seemed to be beset at every turn by small, yapping dogs that would get hugely excited by our passage and would strain at the leash, yelping and snarling to try and get at us, until we whirred past and away.
So frequent and so universal was this reaction that I began to suspect one of our number was carrying sausages for a mid-ride snack. I checked back pockets, but the only strange thing I saw was Captain Black’s neatly folded rain jacket – and that was only strange because he seemed to have forgotten about it while he rode along getting slowly soaked to the skin.
We had a relatively sedate ride out to Stamfordham, where OGL and Szell split early for the café, perhaps deeply engrossed in a haggling over second-hand bike prices. The Red Max took to the front and ramped the speed up from around 16mph to 19mph. Once happy with the pace he ceded the front to the Monkey Butler Boy and Jimmy Cornfeed and we pressed on for a loop around the Quarry.
Cresting the Quarry climb, I swung wide and slowed, checking everyone was back on before we started to wind it up for the café. With Mrs. Crazy Legs being away for the weekend, Crazy Legs was intending to ride every day out of the four, so professed to wanting a “fairly steady ride” to save himself for the next few days. As the pace ramped up on the run through to the café though, he was soon caught up in the moment and bouncing and jostling along with everyone else.
We hit the long, final straight down to the Snake Bends at high speed and I was quite happy to ease, sit up and spare myself the pounding over the horrible pitted and rough surface.
Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:
Captain Black revealed he was looking at some remedial dental work involving root canal that was likely to set him back over £600. Somewhat astonished at the cost, the Red Max offered a do-it-yourself option for just a crate of beer and suggested he had all the kit necessary for major endodontic interventions.
On further questioning this turned out to be: a 2mm diamond tipped drill bit, an 800w Black and Decker Percussion Hammer Drill, a couple of spare Co-codamol for pain management and – most importantly – two serviceable bike stands – one to clamp around the head to immobilise it, the other to hold the jaw open. Surprisingly the Captain didn’t seem all that interested in this unique money-saving idea.
We were interrupted by Max’s phone emitting that strange, honking ringtone that he uses – a sound I always associate with the horn on a clown car and always (and I do mean always) use as a cue to tell him it means that the Ringling Brothers are on the phone wanting their massive clown shoes back.
The Monkey Butler Boy explained that being a technophobe when it came to mobile phones and not knowing how to find and download things, this ringtone was the closest Max could get to the horn sound made by the Tour de France support cars; “le son du dindon” (according to the venerable Toshi-san).
He then went on to explain that whenever someone Facetimes Max, they end up getting a horrible, close up view inside his ear – hair, earwax and all as he hasn’t quite come to terms with how to answer video calls.
Crazy Legs gleefully brought our attention to the bull shark, found washed up in the middle of road in Queensland following Cyclone Debbie – proof, as he saw it, that one of his favourite movies, “Sharknado” is firmly rooted in fact and could actually happen at any time. Keep watching the skies!
As we filed out of the café, Captain Black shook out his jacket and slipped it on and, as if on cue, the rain magically stopped. Now all we had to do was persuade him to keep the jacket on all the way home and we’d get back without getting rained on again.
As we pressed on the distress from the Red Max’s and the Monkey Butler Boys’ chains became audibly discernible as the last vestiges of the dry lube they’d applied had now been fully washed away.
Perhaps this distress had actually started much earlier in the ride, but at a frequency only audible to dogs. This would explain the wild reactions from the yapping and yelping pooches we’d passed and, with luck and the liberal application of chain oil, tomorrow’s ride would prove far more peaceable.
With no solo ride home, I stayed with the group as the miles ticked quickly away and was soon at the car and heading home with plenty of time to spare.
YTD Totals: 1,949 km / 1,211 miles with 20,874 metres of climbing