Club Run, Saturday 27th May, 2017
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 113 km / 70 miles with 1,069 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 27 minutes
Average Speed: 25.4 km/h
Group size: 38 riders, 0 FNG’s
Weather in a word or two: Hot and sticky
Saturday morning found me smeared in Factor 30 and dropping down the hill under pale skies that were only slightly marred by a few, high altitude, chalky-gauze clouds. The real start of summer? Doubtful, but it will do for now.
It was actually considerably cooler than it had been mid-week, when early evening commutes home had been like riding through a sauna. Today we were even promised some sharp showers, possibly punctuated by an occassional thunderstorm, but hopefully we’d all be home and hosed by the time they arrived.
Main topics of conversation at the start:
The ride across town was pleasant and uneventful and I pulled up at the meeting place to be instantly greeted by a happy, bouncing Garrulous Kid, who announced rather ominously, “I’m Back!”
Lord, help us.
He then proudly told me he’d managed to fix a puncture last week.
“Did you do it all by yourself?” I asked.
“Yes. I was with the Prof and he just rode away and left me …”
“Ah, yes,” I explained, “He does have a habit of doing that…”
It was so hot … that our even our delicate, Dutch flower, De Uitheems Bloem had arrived in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey, revealing limbs that might not have seen the light of day since last July.
G-Dawg rolled in to proudly show off the yellow spacers in his cassette.
“Did you manage to source some, then?” The BFG enquired, a hint of jealousy creeping into his voice.
“Nope, I made them myself.” G-Dawg replied proudly, explaining how he’d visited a model shop and started quizzing them about the different paints they had and what they were suitable for.
Apparently he had the entire shop staff around him, intrigued by his request for hard-wearing, gloss paint in bright canary yellow and wondering why he needed it. Was it for the ailerons on a B17 perhaps, or the propeller tips of a Focke-Wulf 190? I’m not sure they would have believed him if he’d ‘fessed up.
I wanted to know if he’d gone for Humbrol or Tamiya paint.
“Hah!” the BFG instantly pounced, “I bet you used to make models. Is that when you were young, had no personality and couldn’t talk to girls?”
“What?” I countered, “As opposed to now, when I’m old, have no personality and can’t talk to girls?”
“Ah, so that’s why you became a cyclist?” Son of G-Dawg declared.
You see what a cruel and heartless bunch I’m forced to ride with?
We then learned that G-Dawg had made his own paint rig from a toilet roll tube and fully prepped and prepared his cassette spacers, before giving them two full coats of paint, because, as Son of G-Dawg confirmed: “he’s not an amateur you know.”
Of course, everyone’s a critic and Crazy Legs wanted to know why he hadn’t gone for World Championship rainbow stripes (“There’s only 3 spacers.”) while I thought a bit of creative painting could have produced a hypnotic Zoetrope effect once the cassette was spinning – perhaps galloping horses or something similar.
I then, jokingly suggested G-Dawg could paint his brake blocks to match and was quite surprised when this was duly taken into consideration and he started planning how he could do this without actually ruining the braking surface.
It was so hot … that the Garrulous Kid had filled his bottle with water, stuck it in the freezer to chill and forgotten to remove it. He was now carting around a solid block of ice in his bottle cage and hoping it would melt before he became too desperate for a drink. This led to some discussion about the efficacy of insulated water bottles, which I suggested could also be useful if you wanted a hot drink of tea midway through a winter ride.
“Oh, I can just see it now.” G-Dawg laughed, miming drinking from a bottle with his pinkie finger ostentatiously raised. Son of G-Dawg suggested he could spread a crisp, white linen tablecloth over his handlebars too, just so we were compliant with all the rules of etiquette.
You see, utterly heartless. All of them.
It was so hot … that our mindless banter was interrupted by the unseemly sight of Szell disrobing, after he had decided that even a thin base-layer was too much insulation. It was not a pretty sight and the local residents hate us enough already without that kind of provocation.
Sur-reality was restored by the Garrulous Kid arguing that the black, sticky tape on his handlebars wasn’t black, sticky tape at all – I’m not sure what he actually thought it was and no one was brave, or foolish enough to ask.
It was so hot … that the fine weather seemed to have drawn just about everyone out and we formed a massive block of 38 riders. As the clock ticked down to official Garmin Time, a couple of groups were agreed and we managed a reasonable two-thirds, one third split as we pushed off, clipped in and rode out.
I started out in the first group alongside Taffy Steve, had a chat with Slim Michael (who doesn’t often ride with us much anymore) and then slotted in beside the Garrulous Kid. As we dropped through Dinnington, the group split behind us and a Colnago riding, Mr. Angry infiltrated our ranks.
“Do youse lot never single out when there’s a car behind?” He demanded aggressively.
Oh dear, this wasn’t a conversation I wanted at this time and in this place. Truth be told we were on a fairly twisting road with reduced visibility and there was no safe place to pass, even if we’d all been in single file. (Notwithstanding the fact the line would have been at least twice as long, with the head disappearing around the next corner even as the tail reached any semblance of a straight.) So, no, we weren’t going to single out and ride in the gutter so some motorist could try and squeeze past, too fast and too close, in order to save a few seconds on their journey.
I muttered something non-committal, along the lines of “No, not always,” only to be castigated with, “It’s no wonder cyclists get a bad name with motorists.”
Perhaps expecting some kind of reasoned debate was probably too much at this point and anyway, Mr Angry seemed to succumb to a sudden attack of Tourette’s as he sat behind, frothing at the mouth and proving he had a quite remarkable and extensive vocabulary of swear words that he could direct at us.
It’s bad enough dealing with indignant motorists, but abusive, splenetic fellow cyclists too?
Sadly, much as I was enjoying Mr. Angry’s apoplectic and foul-mouthed diatribe, he obviously decided we were too amateurish, selfish, arrogant and egotistical to ride with and turned off at the first opportunity. Hopefully he found some misplaced inner calm once he was riding solo and only had to deal with the demons in his own head, while he could give way to motorists to his heart’s desire.
Our own ride returned to its former peaceable state and we pressed on. As we swung through Mitford we were greeted by a hearty “Good morning, chaps,” as OGL bridged across with our second group, who’d taken a different route to get to the same place at around the same time.
A bounce through an unexpected pot then jettisoned my tool-tub and I swung over to the side of the road and pulled to a stop to let the long, long line of cyclist’s whirr past. I rode back down the road and retrieved my tub, turned around again and set off in pursuit.
Sneaky Pete, having seen me pull over and stop, had sneaked off the back and was soft pedalling, waiting for me to catch up to provide some company for the chase. As the road started to twist and rise up to Dyke Neuk, we worked together to close down the gap and catch back on.
Up ahead, the second group had called a halt at the junction to regroup and we were able to tag onto the back, which was perfect and saved a much harder and much longer chase. I had in effect been swept up.
Off we set again, dropping down, then scrambling up through Hartburn. Here a bit of dithering and indecision about which way to go, left Moscas almost doing a track-stand half way up a sharp rise, his bike parallel to whichever direction we decided to take and horribly stuck in the wrong gear.
OGL and a few others decided to set off for Middleton Bank, while the rest of us pushed on for Angerton. With a route finally determined, a grunting, straining effort from Moscas somehow saw him turn the pedals over, swing his bike around and finally accelerate away up the climb.
We pressed on with the BFG and Laurelan a mismatched, little and large pairing on the front, climbing up toward Bolam Lake, where we stopped to regroup and wait. This wait proved a little longer than expected, as the back-markers had stopped when the group heading to Middleton Bank had become engaged in an altercation with a RIM in a black Volvo, who seemed incapable of grasping the meaning of a simple Give Way sign and markers.
The driver had cut in so close that one of our riders had been able to deliver a hefty thump to the side of his precious car. He’d reversed for a confrontation, only to back off quickly when he found himself up against half a dozen pissed-off cyclists, all of whom seemed to have a much better grasp of the Highway Code than he was able to muster. I think the fact one of them was blatantly videoing the entire episode didn’t help either.
Back together again, things stayed that way until we swept through Milestone Wood and the BFG unleashed a powerful attack at the foot of the first slope – a move about as unexpected as the room going dark when you turn off the light.
I was already accelerating up onto his wheel in anticipation of the jump and trailed him up and over the first two ramps, before sitting back in the saddle and drifting to one side where he couldn’t miss me. Despite the effort, I took a moment to control my breathing and composed my face to look as calm, reassured and as at ease as possible.
When the BFG finally looked back over his shoulder he found me sitting there, seemingly comfortable and smiling benevolently back at him.
“Oh, you’re still there!” He exclaimed in surprise, before swinging aside and ceding the front in disgust.
I nudged ahead over the last rise and soft-pedalled a little as we dropped down the other side. As the road started to ramp up again I waited until the sweeping left hand corner and then started to accelerate. Slowly, slowly the BFG pulled alongside, nudged his wheel in front and then with a long, loud hiss like a deflating tyre, he blew and dropped away.
I pressed on and could hear other riders rattling along behind in pursuit, but no one seemed to have either the legs or the inclination to come past as I rolled through the junction and onto the café.
Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:
The BFG explained that Gardening was the new Cycling, or at least it is for him in terms of his most recent obsession. It’s all very well and good him slipping new bikes and bits of bikes into the house, but I’m not sure how he’s going to cover up buying another garden. Perhaps he can smuggle it in shovel load by shovel-load, shaking it our from secret pockets inside his pants like a latter day Great Escapee?
Part of his current plan of expansion by subterfuge (if a massive, hulking, scary, Kurgan looking feller can ever do anything by subterfuge) is to subsume land at the back of his garden into his own plot, stealing it from under the nose of rightful owners RailTrack.
He revealed that if he could secure this land he could then fulfill a long term ambition of dressing like Jenny Agutter in the Railway Children and skip down the tracks waving a white flag to stop approaching trains. It takes all sorts.
Meanwhile Sneaky Pete was pacing all around the table like an expectant father awaiting for news of his firtsborn. The reason for his anxiety was the impending return of his beloved De Rosa after he’d cracked the chainstay on one of the Orca tank traps that line the Great North Road Cycle Maze and Deathtrap and had to have it sent away for specialist repair.
Soon incessant pacing was coupled with terse phone calls to find out of delivery had been deemed successful and without complication. The denouement was all positive and a smiling and much relieved Sneaky Pete was finally able to relax and return to the table, although I was disappointed he didn’t hand round celebratory cigars.
Buster was suffering with pollen allergies and regretted not having wrap-around shades. A divers face mask was offered up as the perfect solution, perhaps even with the addition of a snorkel with a cotton wool filter. The face mask was deemed a strong possibility, but Buster wasn’t sold on the snorkel idea – unless he could get one about 70 foot long that he could use to draw in air from above the tree tops.
The conversation about face masks led to Sneaky Pete testing us to name two films where the main character wears a divers face mask – the answers he was looking for were The Graduate and Notting Hill.
Laurelan was slightly taken aback when the BFG revealed he would much rather watch Notting Hill, Love Actually or some other standard Rom-Com, than a testosterone-fuelled, action thriller like The Fast and the Furious 32 or Die Hard with a Zimmer Frame. Then again, what can you expect with a man who feels the need to dress up like Jenny Agutter in the Railway Children.
OGL wandered by to announce tomorrow’s club ride would be longer than normal, maybe 70 miles or more.
“What about Monday?” Crazy Legs asked.
“Oh, you should be back long before then.” The BFG quipped. Ba-boom! It made me laugh anyway.
It was, if anything a too quick jaunt home from the cafe and I found myself at the river before 1.00 o’clock had even rolled up. I decided I had time to tack on another loop up to Westerhope and back, padding my totals with a few more miles and metres of climbing.
This got me home at about normal time, but also gave the rain a chance to catch me as I climbed the Heinous Hill. It wasn’t too unpleasant though and luckily I was well indoors when the real storm arrived and unleashed a fusilade of stinging hailstones the size of marbles, that rattled and bounced ominously off the windows and roof. I can’t imagine being caught out in that while on a bike would have been a whole heap of fun.
YTD Totals: 3,216 km / 1,998 miles with 35,288 metres of climbing