You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I have no time for the utterly horrendous, archaic and anachronistic, entitled, greedy, unaccountable, elitist human beings that compose the British monarchy, but I’m not going to knock back a day or two off work to commemorate the career of someone who should have been allowed to retire many years ago.
Even better, Bank Holiday Thursday was an extremely pleasant day and a few of us ganged up for a foray into the hills south of the river, taking in a typically difficult 1,700 metres of climbing in just over 100km of riding on draggy roads. We battled our way out to the cafe at Parkhead Station on the Waskerley Way for our obligatory coffee and cake stop, a venue the Hammer suggested had been directly transplanted straight out of Royston Vasey.
Still, weirdness aside, it served its purpose and a fantastic, if tiring day seemed to be had by all involved. There wasn’t though enough time for my aged and ancient body to recover in time for Saturday’s Club Run, where I had the horrible premonition I’d be leaden-legged and suffering. I should have put money on it.
Saturday’s weather wasn’t up to the standard of Thursday’s either and it was chilly enough for me to pull on a windproof jacket “early doors” (Football Cliche-Class 101™) for my jaunt across to our meeting place.
Once again the JPF were tardy in getting their 9.00 run started and the two groups mingled quite happily, before they eventually got their act together and ventured out. A similar start-time from a similar place and the interchangeability of riders between the two groups, coupled with the hard-fought-for changes to our own club structure, prompted a discussion about whether the JPF actually serves a purpose anymore. As much as I like a good existential debate, personally, I don’t have a dog in this fight, so my opinion is irrelevant.
We had enough for 3 groups and G-Dawg encouraged, cajoled and coerced a number of us to volunteer for the first group by pointing out there were none of the usual, faster riders present, so it could be run at a fairly relaxed pace. Without the metronomic arrival of Carlton (en vacances en Espagne) to signify the exact departure time though, he was a little premature and there was still time for Jimmy Mac and young racing snake Dansah to join us before we pulled out. Hmm, what was that about a relaxed pace …
G-Dawg had planned a solid and familiar route, heading north and then west to take in the Curlicue climb and Middleton Bank, but swapping out the Mud de Mitford for a dive through Morpeth town centre instead. A few years ago this may have been a no-no, but like many small towns, trade seems to have abandoned Morpeth and it simply wasn’t all that busy in terms of either traffic or shoppers.
We climbed out of Morpeth and paused to regroup at the top, where Jimmy Mac commended Richard of Flanders on his perfectly matched orange socks and bidons. Richard suggested the next step was matching bar tape, while I suggested matching underwear. He may have laughed off this suggestion, but I could tell I’d planted a seed that might yet come to fruition.
On to Curlicue Bank and the rather vexed question of whether it’s better or worse than the Trench, which it climbs more or less parallel to. I asked Not Anthony but he didn’t have an opinion, which was fine, I didn’t have one either, so I just stuck my nose out in front to try and control the pace as we rode up. From this and this experience alone, I would have to say it’s a steadier and therefore slightly easier climb than the Trench – although I guess it all depends on how fast you go up it, so I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.
At Middleton Bank, Jimmy Mac tired of waiting for us laggards and rode off the front, while the rest of us regrouped and pushed on toward the cafe. I attacked as we hit the foot of the rollers. I had to, simply because I always do, even though it never, ever works to my advantage. This time it was a much bigger mistake than usual and I only made it halfway up the second hump before the legs simply gave up. I waved the others past to get on with it without me. I might have missed the sprint, but I did manage to sneak to the front before the cafe and park my bike in the space Crazy Legs likes to use. Just because …
We took our coffees and cake out into the garden, which was warm enough when the sun came out, but chilly when it hid itself within the broken cloud. Having discarded my arm warmers, it was simpler to pull my jacket on when the temperature dipped.
Crazy Legs cornered Jimmy Mac for a private consultation. Jimmy Mac then risked doctor-patient confidentiality to assure us Crazy Legs would be fine, once at least once the swelling died down and the weeping discharge cleared up …
I didn’t find any other republicans at the table, most just seemed largely indifferent to Her Madje’s Platinum Jubilee, although Richard of Flanders was very unimpressed with four consecutive days of “flag-shagging” as he so delicately put it.
Of course, replacing a monarchy with a constitution is no panacea, I mean look at the knots the USA has tied itself into trying to apply rules that seemed sensible 300 years ago. I mean, whoever thought it was a good idea to grant people the right to arm bears?
Richard of Flanders suggested the best electoral system was the one imposed on Germany by the Allies after WW2. I don’t know enough about it to say whether it’s the best, but I’m all for trying something different, especially if it means the state no longer has to pay out the estimated £300+ million per year needed to keep the Windsor family from extreme penury.
The cafe stop revived me enough to be able to hang in the wheels on the way back until I set off to drag myself back across the river and up the hill home. So, two hard days with a day’s recovery between exposed a few weaknesses. Not the greatest portent for what’s to come in the next couple of weeks, but it is what it is.
|Day & Date:||Club run Saturday 2nd June 2022|
|Riding Time:||4 hours 26 minutes|
|Riding Distance:||116km/72 miles with 1,120m of climbing|
|Group Size:||19 riders, 0 FNG’s|
|Temperature:||14℃ – 18℃|
|Weather in a word or two:||Chilly start – bryter layter|
|Year to date:||2,358km/1,465 miles with 25,701m of climbing|