The Ride of the Rising Octaves

The Ride of the Rising Octaves

The rain that was forecast for Saturday apparently got the bums’ rush and passed through quicker than expected, leaving us with a relatively dry run, well, if you don’t count one or two quick showers and the bedraggled, water-logged landscape and puddled roads left in its wake. I was on the last, downhill leg of my run-in to the meeting point when I picked up James III who has recently moved house and so now follows a similar route to me across the river and out of the valley.

It was most definitely a day for mudguards, but he only had a front one fitted, the rear one being on his other bike that was away at his LBS for a service, so he tried fitting the front guard to the rear of his bike once we’d stopped, but with no success. Ok, that’s one wheel I won’t be trying to follow today.

Various mudguard hacks were discussed, most of which involved liberal quantities of gaffer tape. This was certainly the solution adopted by Brassneck when the screw holding the guard on his front forks had pulled out, stripping the mount. The fork crown was now swathed in gaffer tape which, allegedly, “Blended in quite well, covered an unsightly hole and stopped it from letting in water.”

“Letting in water …” I sang back at him.

“Letting in war-a-ter …” Crazy Legs harmonised.

Brassneck was unmoved and decidedly unamused. Even when we repeated our little acapella side-show. Oh. Heav-ee. Well, he should just be thankful he didn’t have a hole in his shoe, he’d never hear the end of it.

Crazy Legs brought bad news about G-Dawg, who seems to be suffering from a form of arrythmia and has been advised to avoid exercise for the foreseeable. The withdrawal of one stalwart though was marked by the return of another as Ovis re-appeared and after only managing a couple of club rides last year, he’s more hopeful he’ll be joining us more regularly this time around.

“You don’t happen to have the hotline number for Garmin tech support?” Jimmy Mac then enquired. I looked at him deeply perplexed.

“Eh? What?”

“The satellite’s obviously out of position and it’s skewed their universal timing systems badly off, can you call and tell them.”

“Eh? What?” I was being particularly dense and slow this morning.

He indicated the time on his Garmin. 9:08 it read.

Right. Got that?

I must have still looked perplexed.

He pointed to where Carlton stood waiting. Carlton, our regular metronome, who has previously demonstrated the preternatural ability to turn up at 9:15 precisely every Saturday, the exact moment when we send the first group away. In fact, it had reached the point where he was so reliable that we were using his arrival as an official start of ride signal.

Aha! Now I got why he was concerned.

“New year, new rules?” I offered. It was the best I could do, what other explanation could there be for this strange, otherworldly phenomena?

We had enough riders for two sizable groups, so we got ourselves organised and underway.

I pushed out on the front of the second group alongside Brassneck, who had a cunning plan get his stint in the lead out of the way before our route swung west and we became fully exposed to the predicted stiff (and very chilly headwinds.)

“Puddles!” and “Pots!” became our oft-repeated cri de cœur for the day, as every turn we took seemed to set us amidst one or other of these, and more often than not, both of them together. Brassneck decided that Puddles and Potts was probably the name of a bright new folk combo from County Kildare, while we amused ourselves trying to remember the name of the latest Big Thief album.

“It has a mountain and a dragon in it, definitely a dragon and .. and, I’m going to say a cloud?” Brassneck mused.

You can play along at home if you want, and I’ll even give you a clue, the words we needed were: I Believe In You Warm New Mountain Dragon, but not in that order. Now, try and rearrange that into a phrase that makes any kind of sense … Go on … I’ll wait.

We ran through Dinnington, past the Cheese Farm and climbed up Bell’s Hill before Brassneck peeled off, job well done and primary objective achieved. I stayed on the front, chatting and catching up with Ovis. As we approached each new, road-straddling puddle he would generously swing over and usher me through, with a cheery “After you, sir.”

You would have assumed he was just being a gentleman, until he admitted to using me as a crash-test dummy, or a canary in a coal mine if you will: carefully following my wheel tracks, prepared to veer to either side should I suddenly disappear down an unseen pothole lurking in the murky depths of the water. For a while there I felt like Moses, parting the Red Sea to allow his followers safe passage…

My double turn on the front was completed by the time we passed the dip and swoop through Hartburn. The route then turned directly into a howling headwind, but I felt no guilt sitting sheltering in the wheels as best I could while Carlton and Another Paul battered away on the front as we made our way to Capheaton for coffee and cake.

There I was completely unsurprised to find the waiting G-Dawg, imagining he’d been caught pacing relentlessly around the house like a caged tiger, sulking and bemoaning the missed opportunity to ride his bike until being ordered out by a Mrs. G-Dawg desperate for some peace and quiet. Hopefully he won’t be confined to vicariously enjoying the rides through cafe visits for too long and will be out mixing it with the rest of us soon.

At the turn onto the lane for Ogle we actually had to wait for a car coming the other way, which was a bit of a surprising novelty given the motorists penchant for minor-road rat-runs with all their dubious time-savings.

“Unusual,” I noted.

“Surprisng,” Crazy Legs added.

“Extraordinary.”

“Unexpected.”

“Inconceivable.”

Crazy Legs was just about to accuse me of stealing from The Princess Bride, when Brassneck interjected, but as his words rose up the register so suddenly they were emitted at a pitch that only dogs could comprehend, we still don’t know what he actually said. I’m sure it was funny though.

I left the group just as we entered the mad mile to be assailed by vicious headwinds and cross-headwinds on all the climbs (and even the descents) on my run home. It was a slow grind, but we made it.


Day & Date:Club Run, Saturday 14th January 2023
Riding Time:5 hours 5 minutes
Riding Distance:110km/68 miles with 1,031m of climbing
Average Speed:21.6km/h
Group Size:23 riders, 1 FNG’s
Temperature:7℃
Weather in a word or two:No bad
Year to date:321km/199 miles with 3,146m of climbing

Puddles on Park Road

by Robin Webster

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