Club Run, Saturday 5th May, 2018
My Ride (according to Strava)
Total Distance: 113 km / 70 miles with 1,077 metres of climbing
Ride Time: 4 hours 21 minutes
Average Speed: 26.0 km/h
Group size: 21 riders, 2 FNG’s
Weather in a word or two: Chilly
Farcical … or Far Cycle – A Very British Farce*
(A script in development and purely speculative fiction)
*Farce: noun – a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterisation and ludicrously improbable situations.
The Subject: Sur La Jante
The Lone Dissenting Voice: Captain Kamikaze
The Fly: A fly
Jolly Man: A random passing civilian
Captain Kamikaze: The Lone Dissenting Voice
The Gang: Various riders from the largest cycling club in the region. (Allegedly.)
A black screen.
The silence is broken by the slow beeping of an electronic alarm and an image slowly coalesces of a flailing arm that bashes wildly at a bedside table, 2-3-4 times, until it finally manages to hit the off-button and silence the horribly intrusive noise.
The camera pulls back and, accompanied by much moaning, groaning and muttering, The Subject slowly peels back the covers and stumbles out of bed. Blinking in the still dim light, The Subject runs a hand through ridiculously unkempt, dishevelled hair that’s standing straight up at attention. He rubs at gritty eyes and yawns loudly.
In a narrow kitchen, The Subject prepares an uninspiring but hopefully fortifying breakfast of porridge and a muddy espresso, while trying to ignore the two hungry felines giving him the evil eye and demanding he drop everything to placate them with a sacrificial offering of food.
Finally, their evil cat gazes start to shrivel his soul and The Subject succumbs to the pressure, opening a pouch of some foul smelling cat food at arm’s length and trying not to gag as he disgorges the contents into two bowls that he quickly lays at the feet of his masters.
The Subject is now wrestling with a fantastical costume that could (perhaps justifiably) be characterised as being a couple of sizes too small for comfort. A t-shirt, with more holes than substance, goes under a pair of long, form fitting shorts with bizarre straps that go over the shoulders. It looks like the kind of lederhosen a cheesy, 60’s TV-superhero might have worn. Alpenhorn Man, anyone?
The subject pulls on a pair of socks that he hopes are neither too long, nor too short. They are unashamedly bright and white.
Strange black, sausage-skin type tubes are then stretched up and over spindly, pipe-cleaner arms, like opera gloves without any fingers, before another, possibly even tighter, t-shirt is pulled over The Subjects head and inched and tugged and twisted down and around his torso.
This latest t-shirt has 3 odd pockets sewn into the back and The Subject starts loading these up. In the left hand pocket goes a wallet, a phone and some kind of cereal bar. In the middle pocket goes a small camera and a bundled-up, incredibly creased, bright orange jacket is stuffed on top of this. In the right hand pocket goes a small bike pump, two plastic tyre levers and a compact multi-tool.
Once completed, The Subject decides he needs to visit the toilet. Out of the left hand pocket, he retrieves a wallet, a phone and some kind of cereal bar and sets them aside. Out of the right hand pocket, he pulls a small bike pump, two plastic tyre levers and a compact multi-tool and sets them aside. He decides the camera in the middle pocket is probably safe, plugged in place by the orange jacket.
He inches, tugs and twists the top t-shirt up and pulls it over his head and is already slipping the strange lederhosen straps down, off his shoulders as he opens the toilet door.
Flashback: an earlier time and an earlier natural urge, The Subject is dressed in a similar manner as he enters the toilet, but the rear pockets are still bulging with “stuff”. He grasps the collar of his top at the back and tugs and twists and pulls it over his head. As it starts to slide down his arms, his mobile phone flies out of his left hand pocket and describes a slow, lazy arc through the air, a trajectory so perfect that Tom Daly would have spontaneously cheered … Plop! Straight down the toilet bowl without touching the sides.
The Subject emerges from the toilet and goes through the ritual of wrestling on his top t-shirt and loading up the individual pockets once again. In the left hand pocket goes a wallet, a phone and some kind of cereal bar. In the right hand pocket goes a small bike pump, two plastic tyre levers and a compact multi-tool…
He goes outside, still in his stockinged feet and pulls a bike from the shed. It’s an alarming, eye-watering riot of vile red, poisonous black and bilious yellow. The bike is loaded up with a tool tub, water bottle and computer and our subject returns inside.
“It’s a bit chilly out there,” he tells one of the cats. The cat stares back with mute indifference.
“I know you care really,” he suggests unconvincingly.
The cat yawns and wanders off.
The Subject pulls a pair of ruby red slippers from a cupboard, drags them on and twists a clicking dial on each, until the cheese-wires that serve as laces tighten enough to cut off blood supply to his toes. He backs them off a little. He fishes the orange jacket from his back pocket and slips this on for good measure, adding an extra layer of insulation. Good to go.
The Scene: A little while later at a grandly named Transport Interchange Centre, that actually resembles a very ordinary, run-of-the-mill bus station. A low wall at the back of a wide pavement separates the bus concourse from a multi-storey car park. Seated on this wall waiting, is the tall, gangly figure of the Garrulous Kid dressed all in black.
G-Dawg and the Colossus roll up on their bikes. The latter is wearing a Le Col jersey in a bright shade of orange, while the former sports a Molteni retro jersey that, through time, evolved from an unloved navy blue and brown to orange and black. G-Dawg’s is the more modern, much more tasteful orange and black version.
Trailing behind, our Subject arrives and pulls up alongside the pair.
“Huh, you’re all in orange?” (There’s really no fooling the Garrulous Kid, or his keen observational skills.)
“It’s Orange Day, didn’t you get the message?” G-Dawg asks.
“Yes, orange is the new black,” The Subject attests.
Even the Garrulous Kid doesn’t fall for this one though, especially as other riders start turning up and there’s no further incidence of orange.
The Subject determines things have probably warmed up just about enough, so ships and stows the orange jacket.
Slowly, more cyclists arrive and form up around the group, until the pavement is all but blocked by skinny blokes with plastic bikes.
“I thought there would have been more out today,” G-Dawg surmises, even as the headcount tops 20.
The Subject reminds him there’s a few up doing the Wooler Wheel and one or two facing the brutal Fred Whitton Challenge tomorrow too.
The Subject then falls into conversation with the newly arrived Big Friendly Giant.
The Subject: “So you survived last week and now you’re back for more?”
BFG: “Yeah, and I might make it all the way around, this time. But I’ll not be stopping at the café …”
The Subject steps back, aghast.
The Subject: [tremulously] “What … no cake?”
BFG: “I have to be back to do some gardening. Feed and tend the lawns and all that.”
The Subject: “Ah, is this the new obsession?”
BFG: [unashamedly] “Yes!”
The Subject: “So, it’s replaced your earlier obsession for building bikes from rare, exotic and wholly unsuitable materials?”
BFG: “Yes. The trouble is though, Nature is always changing and evolving and nothing ever stays perfect for very long.”
The Subject: “Very true, that’s life – things are always changing.”
BFG: “Yeah, but it can actually become a bit of an issue for someone with acute OCD and a need for perfection …”
The Scene: Out on the road. The weather is bright, but cold and a group of 20+ riders are travelling 2 abreast down rough country roads in a very rural landscape.
Above all the general chatter and good humour, a disassociated voice can be heard complaining long and bitterly about the speed the group is travelling. Everyone else seems happy and comfortable, talking away, enjoying the ride and not breathing too heavily – even Szell, just recently awoken from winter hibernation seems at ease.
“It’s not a bloody race,” the Lone Dissenting Voice proclaims.
“If you want to race, put a number on your back,” the Lone Dissenting Voice continues.
“Is this the bloody toady France or something?” the Lone Dissenting Voice queries, to everyone and no one. Well, to be fair, actually no one – they’ve all stopped listening.
Slow fade …
The Scene: The group has stopped at a junction with a choice of turning right for a shorter route to the café , or left for a longer harder route. G-Dawg is busy outlining the different options that everyone can take.
Lone Dissenting Voice: “Well, I’m going this way, the speed today has been just bloody farcical. Farcical!”
The Lone Dissenting Voice takes the right hand turn in protest – a protest somewhat spoiled by the fact that it’s the route the Lone Dissenting Voice always takes…no matter what.
Lone Dissenting Voice: [a final parting shot] “If you want to race, put a bloody number on your back.”
“That’s it, we’re all wearing numbers next week,” someone announces.
The Scene: Out on the road, the groups numbers are somewhat diminished, all the climbing is done and they’re riding at a high speed, pulling everyone out into a single long line.
Someone attacks off the front. The Subject follows a wheel through as another rider moves to respond.
The attacker is brought back.
The Subject attacks.
The Subject is caught.
The road rises a little.
The Subject attacks again.
The Subject is caught.
Cut to an aerial shot, showing a long straight road. Head-on and still a little distant a group of riders can be seen, approaching fast and in single file. Having been caught again, The Subject is now sitting second wheel.
The camera pulls back slightly revealing this view is actually one being contemplated by a large, black fly of an indeterminate species. The fly performs a lazy barrel roll, drops down and heads buzzing toward the approaching riders.
The road rises, ever so slightly.
The Subject pulls out from the wheels.
The Subject attacks again.
Briefly, the view shifts to the fly’s perspective and CGI special effects are applied. The view becomes heavily stylised, a multi-faceted picture of bikes and riders through the eyes of the fly.
It focuses on the group approaching.
And zooms in… to focus on the attacking lead rider.
And zooms in…to focus on the face of the attacking lead rider
And zooms in… to focus on that riders gaping mouth, through which he’s trying to draw enough oxygen to fuel his thrashing legs, pounding heart and gasping lungs.
The black maw of the fully open mouth looms and draws the fly in …
Blackness engulfs the fly.
The camera pulls back to focus on The Subject again. He’s coughing, spluttering and trying not to gag on a sudden obstruction that’s rattling and vibrating in his throat.
The Subject’s done, he’s caught and blinking away the tears in his eyes, he drops back. Back past Jimmy Mac, past the Big Yin, past Keel, past G-Dawg, before finding a space and slotting in on the wheel of the Colossus.
He follows. Hanging on. Still at high speed.
There are two very distinct, very loud cracks as G-Dawg smashes through a pothole no one had the wit to point out.
Centimetres from his rear wheel, the Colossus twitches to one side and bangs across the shallower edges of the hole, avoiding the worst. The Subject quickly yaws away to one side and manages to miss the hole completely.
It all happens in an instant. The group presses on, seemingly having sustained no damage, until G-Dawg realises he’s blown out both tyres and they’re rapidly deflating. He comes to a rumbling stop.
The Colossus continues, charges across the gap, past a slow riding, Lone Dissenting Voice (who has just emerged from a side-road) and to the front of the group. The Colossus contests the sprint, then calmly turns around and goes back to help G-Dawg with his double puncture.
Meanwhile, The Subject rolls through on the back of the group and makes his way to the café.
Scene: In the café. The Subject is standing in the queue loading his tray up with coffee and cake. The Lone Dissenting Voice stands behind him, waiting to be served. A rather jolly, corpulent civilian approaches and addresses the Lone Dissenting Voice.
Jolly Man: “Well, well, well it’s Captain Kamikaze.”
The Subject tries to suppress his grin, the Lone Dissenting Voice studiously tries to ignore the Jolly Man.
Jolly Man: [unperturbed by the silent treatment and in no way deterred, continues] “Hello Captain Kamikaze, thrown yourself under any 40-ton artics recently?”
The Subject scurries off, before he bursts into laughter…
Scene: In the garden at the café. Two of the benches have been pulled together in a line and are overrun with cyclists. The Subject is sitting at one end, talking with Jimmy Mac and Rab Dee about the Giro d’Italia. At the other end sits the Big Yin and the Garrulous Kid.
Rab Dee: “I’m looking forward to a lazy afternoon watching the Giro and listening to Sean Kelly’s commentary about turds and trees.”
Jimmy Mac: “Reminds me of the story of how Billy Twelvetrees was always called 36 by his Irish team mates.”
The Subject was just about to add that Yates’ commentary has never been the same since Ulrika Greenedge became Mitchelton Scott, when the Lone Dissenting Voice a.k.a. Captain Kamikaze, plonks himself down opposite the Big Yin.
Lone Dissenting Voice: “The speed today was shocking.”
The Big Yin: [feigning innocence] “Yeah, It was a bit slow wasn’t it?”
Lone Dissenting Voice: [utterly devoid of humour] “It’s ridiculous, the Saturday runs were set up 50 years ago as a social ride.”
The Big Yin: [reasonably] “Well, yeah, that was then. It’s different now and things change naturally over time, they evolve and …”
Lone Dissenting Voice: “No! No they bloody don’t! Not over time!”
The Subject: “Err … eh?”
Lone Dissenting Voice: “The pace of the Saturday rides is stupid. It’s why we’ve had a 50% drop in club membership. It’s why some of the old stalwarts don’t ride with us anymore. It’s why numbers on Saturday rides are falling.”
The Subject: [sotto voce, shaking his head] “No. No. No and no.”
Luckily, the group are distracted, when the Garrulous Kid spots Rab Dee’s espresso cup.
Garrulous Kid: “Hey, that’s a tiny cup!”
Garrulous Kid: [bending down to look under the table] “Is there a midget here?”
The Scene: Still the café garden. The cyclists are packing up to leave, minus the Lone Dissenting Voice who left early in order to “ride home at a sensible speed.”
Szell weighs up an order card left lying on one of the tables so the servers can identify who has ordered what.
Szell: “Isn’t this the kind of number we could put on our backs?”
He proposes sticking it to the back of the Lone Dissenting Voice’s jersey and starts looking for some glue, or tape.
Szell: “I know, jam. That’ll work.”
Luckily, the group makes to leave before Szell can put his plan into practice.
The Scene: Returning home in high spirits, the group are powering along with the Garrulous Kid and The Subject on the front, chattering away and laughing. As they approach the final climb, up to Dinnington, Taffy Steve accelerates up behind the Garrulous Kid.
Taffy Steve: [chanting] “Old fat bloke coming for you, Old fat bloke gonna catch you…”
With a girly-shriek, the Garrulous Kid accelerates away.
Over the top, he sees the Lone Dissenting Voice, labouring along on his own.
He sweeps past.
Seconds later, everyone else sweeps past too.
Lone Dissenting Voice: [grumpily, as he disappears out the back] “I could hear you lot coming a bloody mile away.”
G-Dawg: “We’ll all have our names entered into the little black book now.”
The Subject: “Yep, it’s a club run, it’s not an excuse for us to be out enjoying ourselves.”
Fade to credits.
All options available[Still!]
YTD Totals: 2,780 km / 1,571 miles with 32,346 metres of climbing