I’m Free …

 


COVER2I’ve finally manged to wrap my head around the Amazon promotional stuff – (ok, it wasn’t that hard) and so can offer the eBook free for the next 5 days.

If you want it … go and get it and it’ll cost you nowt. Hell, go crazy and get two …

The UK version can be found here  – the US version here

And all the others via your usual, local Amazon marketplace.


 

Buy the Book Too

Buy the Book Too

Anyone with a Kindle and a strong and a powerful, unfulfilled Sur La Jante addiction (and who am I to judge?) can now access the collected witterings from all of 2016 in one handy volume.

All this for a nominal fee of 99p or US $1.29, or whatever the equivalent is in your local currency and exclusively available from an Amazon site near you.

The UK version can be found here and the US version (complete with whacky/wacky UK spellings)  here.

Amazon wouldn’t let me give the book away for free, so this is as low as it goes until I find a way to manipulate their marketing promotions. The exact same content is of course always available completely free on this very blog site.

Reviews of the first Sur La Jante Chronicles – Float Like a Buffalo, Sting Like a Moth:

“Genuinely funny, well at least my lines are.” Taffy Steve

“I hate that wheel-sucking scumbag.” G-Dawg

“Great. I’m pretty sure I can re-purpose this to make all sorts of different things.” The Prof

“Attack! Attack! Attack!” The Red Max

“Is. It. Safe?” Szell

“Who?  Nah … Never heard of him.” OGL


COVER2
Cover by the extraordinarily talented, Mr. Phil Smith

 

Of course, for the truly masochistic, the 2015 edition, Float Like a Buffalo, Sting Like a Moth is still available. The UK version can be found here and the US version (complete with whacky/wacky UK spellings)  here.

Unexpected Interlude


I woke fuzzily Saturday morning to find Storm Doris desultorily lashing the house with gusting winds, sleet and frozen rain, like some apathetic, under-paid, over-worked and put-upon dominatrix. It sounded quite nasty out – but for once, I didn’t care and knew I didn’t have to spend half an hour mixing and matching various bits of kit to try and find that perfectly impossible balance between insulation and ventilation.

Daughter#1 and Daughter#2 (aka Thing#1 and Thing#2) had embraced their role of Porton Down disease vectors with all the enthusiasm of a genocidal settler distributing smallpox infected blankets to Native Americans, leaving a patina of virulent germs on everything they touched and trailing a toxic, disease-laden miasma in their wake.

My poor, frail defences had finally been overwhelmed and whatever mild cold they’d managed to infect me with quickly mutated into a full-blown case of man flu’. This even had me waking late Friday night to what I thought was a full-blown cat-fight taking place in the bedroom, only to finally realise it was my own torturous breathing that had disturbed me. There would be no riding this week.

Still, someone actually told me that the Met Office had “issued a yellow snow warning” over the weekend. You know what they say about yellow snow and how you should avoid it. Perhaps I was better off the bike after all.


YTD Totals: 949 km / 590 miles with 8,937 metres of climbing. (Still)

New Year’s Revolutions

New Year’s Revolutions

Club Run, Saturday 7th January, 2017

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                  107 km/66 miles with 996 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                          4 hours 26 minutes

Average Speed:                                24.2 km/h

Group size:                                         28 riders, 0 FNG’s

Temperature:                                    10°C

Weather in a word or two:          Mild mannered


 

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Ride Profile

The Ride:

So, a year ends and mileage totals get set back to zero – it’s time to start all over again. I already feel like a begrudging Sisyphus trudging disconsolately back down the hill to pick up the boulder that’s once again slipped from my despairing grasp and rolled away.

A couple of sneaky rides on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, both days when my inner blogger was lying quietly supine and dormant, managed to pad my annual totals and I finished the year on 7,328km or 4,553 miles.

I’m quite surprised how high the total mileage was and I’d love to say that I achieved some pre-set target or goal, but to be honest I just take whatever opportunities to ride that come my way. I have a vague notion of trying to get better and stronger, faster and fitter, but just a consequence of enjoying my riding. If I miss a weekend I’m going to be grumpy because I missed a run, not because I’m now behind on some self-imposed schedule.

There’s no ultimate end game other than to stay healthy as long as I can – I don’t feel any kind of compulsion to ride just to accumulate miles, or reach some pre-determined benchmark. That just seems an empty and utterly joyless task for the more numbers obsessed amongst us (yes, you know who you are) – each to their own I guess, vive le difference and all that.

Still, I have to admit 4,500 miles does sound vaguely impressive to the uninitiated, who always seem more interested in how far I ride, rather than why. They might not be so impressed if they knew it involved 332 hours actually propelling a bike (and that’s not even taking into account all those hours sitting round talking bikes, or just cleaning and fixing the damn things … or even writing about them!)

332 hours equates to about 41 eight-hour long work days. Perhaps there’s something more productive I could be doing with my time on the planet … I just can’t think what.

From here 4,500 miles also seems like a long, long way off, starting the new year from ground zero, but at least I’d started making inroads with a couple of commutes on my return to work. Handy, if only to start chipping away at the excess couple of pounds brought on by wine, wallowing and wanton wassailing.

My “off the record” ride on Christmas Eve had been somewhat ruined by another series of front wheel punctures that finally convinced me to discard my somewhat aged, but still decent looking Fulcrum wheel for good. It’s now in disgrace, lying, shunned and quietly mouldering in the darkest corner of the shed, stripped of tyre and inner tube. Even after careful, forensic inspection, I still have no idea why it was causing so many punctures. Hopefully they’ll now return to being an occasional, unwelcome interruption rather than an overwhelming expectation.

The New Year’s Eve ride was lashed by the tail end of Storm Barbara and ended up longer than planned, when we found our usual café closed and a handful of us back-tracked to find an alternative. After leaving the group, my solo ride home had proven to be a trial of strength against an increasingly enfeebling headwind. I lost. Badly, finally dragging myself to the top of the Heinous Hill some 20 minutes past my usual arrival time and utterly exhausted. Who’d have thought air could be so hard to push through?

Still, while I felt unlucky, it could have been a lot worse, a number of our group had come to grief with a multiple pile-up on black ice during a midweek holiday ride, leaving behind numerous contusions and several broken bikes and bodies. Worst affected seemed to be Andeven, who looks like being out for a couple of months with a fractured pelvis.

So, what has 2017 got in store and more importantly how was the first club run of the year going to measure up? Well, the start was certainly promising, the temperature nudging toward double figures and the wind no more than a cooling breeze.

I made decent time across to the meeting place and rolled up before everyone else, parked the bike up and settled in to see how many would be tempted out by the unusually mild weather.


Main topics of conversation at the start:

The Garrulous Kid was the first to show and I learned he’d gone down in the mass tumble and needed a new rear wheel, cassette and derailleur. He was also working through his own crash demons and suffering from a crisis of confidence, convinced that his rear wheel was constantly threatening to slip out from under him.

I had a look at the Bontrager tyres his LBS had fitted, but I’m not at all familiar with them, so didn’t know if they were particularly good or bad in terms of grip. He didn’t know how much pressure there was in them, but the rear one felt a bit hard and unforgiving to my extremely unscientific thumb-prodding, so I suggested he let a little air out to see if that would improve their handling.

He asked Crazy Legs what he thought and he made to prod the tyre and then – whoosh, let his hand quickly slide off.

“Did you see that!” he exclaimed, “They’re slippery.” Oh dear, this wasn’t helping.

The Garrulous Kid was wondering who else he could ask and someone suggested the BFG.

“Who’s the BFG?” he asked, bewildered.

“The Big Friendly Giant.” someone explained helpfully.

“Although he’s not really all that big.” Taffy Steve added.

“And not at all friendly.” I had to concede.

Speaking of big, Plumose Pappus rolled up for one last club ride before returning to university and complaining he’d over-indulged over Christmas, eaten far too many mince pies and his weight had ballooned – starting to inch, albeit with glacial slowness towards a mighty … 50 kilos!  (Or, in Plumose Pappus world, positively obese.)

The Garrulous Kid turned to Taffy Steve and, with either carefully calculated display of arch-deviousness, or (much more likely) completely blissful naivety, innocently asked:

“Steve, did you eat too many mince pies as well?”

#Cough# Splutter#

Moving swiftly on…

The Red Max confessed to having been lured in by the post-Christmas sales and had bought both himself and the Monkey Butler Boy matching wheelsets. Ah, nice…

Meanwhile, just before we set out OGL fielded a call, which I suggested was from the British Antarctic Survey, warning of dire weather heading our way, but at least for today we could set out safe in the knowledge there was absolutely zero chance of encountering any ice, even in the deepest, darkest depths of rural Northumberland.


The mild weather had indeed attracted a bumper crop out and almost 30 lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and rode out. As we got underway, Sneaky Pete sneaked out and directly onto the back of our group. I could only congratulate him on his masterful timing.

Sadly, for the rest of us timing was not so good and we got caught by the first set of traffic lights, having to chase on for the first mile or so. Not the best start to a ride when all you wanted to do was tuck onto someone else’s wheel and shelter at the back for a while.


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Today was to prove to be a day of losses. First Taffy Steve lost a light which uncoupled from his frame and went bouncing away, forcing him to drop back to retrieve it. I then caught Son of G-Dawg, riding against the flow and back-tracking, looking for what I’m fairly sure he said was a missing brake block.

Next up the Red Max lost his rag with a taxi-driving RIM, who objected to the fact that we didn’t immediately pull over to the side of a narrow lane and doff our caps, while he thundered past at dangerously high speed.

In the sudden scrum of braking cyclists caused by the taxi, the Garrulous Kid lost his balance and toppled over.

Then Mini Miss lost the plot and stopped in the middle of the road halfway up a steep climb. Nobody seems to know why, including her, but it briefly caused utter chaos and much swerving and jinking around her stationery bike.

The biggest loss of the day though was reserved for the Garrulous Kid, who completely lost his mojo on the swooping descent just before the steep clamber up to Hartburn, plagued by the demons of last week’s group crash and convinced his tyres had been polished smooth and then liberally coated in grease.

Just before the sharp plunge down, he energetically bailed out, riding off the road and up a steeply banked verge, narrowly missing Crazy Legs and somehow managing to keep himself upright on the adverse camber of the muddy, gravel and leaf strewn strip.

He waited for the road to clear of cyclists before gingerly picking his way down at an exaggerated crawl, almost coming to a standstill at the bottom and losing all momentum before having to drag himself up the other side.

Rab Dee dropped back with him for a bit of mid-ride coaching and policing, while the rest of us pushed on.

“Angerton, or Middleton Bank?” G-Dawg enquired.

“Middleton Bank.” Carlton replied assuredly, “It’s easier.”

This show of forthright confidence, whether misplaced or not, impressed Crazy Legs, who decided Carlton deserved a new moniker to reflect his bravura assertiveness. He first tried out “The Dormanator” before discarding this and finally settling on “The Dormanatrix.” He then totally ruined the intended effect by declaring the name immediately conjured up images of Alan Partridge prancing about in leather S&M shorts.


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Nevertheless, Middleton Bank it was – and as we approached, Bydand Fecht pushed up the pace and a small group went clear at the front. I coasted to the bottom of the hill, dropping back through the group until the slope began to bite and then pushing up the outside. As I approached the top, I had Goose for company, riding audibly up the inside gutter and puffing away like Ivor the Engine under heavy load.

At the crest I eased and dropped back, waiting for the rest to regroup and we slowly got ourselves organised to begin chasing the bunch up front who’d decided not to wait. Sneaky Pete pushed the pace up, before swinging over and declaring himself done. Our efforts became a little ragged as Carlton the Dormanatrix and Taffy Steve then vied for the lead before we hit Milestone Woods, with Crazy Legs pulling us up and over the rollers.

As we tipped down before the final climb, Taffy Steve whirred past inviting me onto his wheel with a, “Hang on and I’ll drop like a stone.”

We were closing on the front group as we hit the slopes of the last climb and I returned the favour, pushing past Taffy Steve and suggesting he grab onto my wheel, “and I’ll climb like a washing-machine!”

As we hit the final uphill push, Crazy Legs whirred off the front in a brave, but ultimately futile attempt to bridge to the front group, while Sneaky Pete sneaked off my back wheel to pip me on the line.


Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:

 I caught up with Crazy Legs in the café queue and overheard him closing a conversation with the immortal phrase, “It’s immaterial”

“Ah,” I interjected, “A Gigantic Raft in the Philippines?”

He looked at me blankly

“Huh?”

“A Gigantic Raft in the Philippines – It’s Immaterial. You know – Driving Away from Home.”

“Ah, thirty miles or more”

“That’s the one.”

“A whole thirty miles, eh? Woah!”

He was then served by a waitress whose hair had been green the previous week, blue the week before and had transitioned through various shades of orange to a more natural auburn colour. I left him proposing a weekly sweepstake where we’d try to guess her hair colour and trying to negotiate a deal, whereby she’d feed him the information he needed to win every week.

The Driving Away from Home pop-reference led to discussions about Milli Vanilli, surprisingly dead in a car crash with their wives according to Crazy Legs, more surprised that they had wives, than the fact they died in an automobile accident. This led to the sad acknowledgement of the much greater loss to music, that of Colin Vearncombe, a.k.a. Black, who died after a car crash in Ireland late last year.

[For those of you actually managing to keep up at the back, my Google skills suggest that despite Crazy Legs’s assertions, only one member of Milli Vanilli, Rob Pilatus is no longer with us and his death was the result of overdosing on pills and alcohol. I can only assume he wasn’t driving a car at the time – either with or without a wife.]

Penelope Pitstop described the extreme opprobrium heaped on her head by her own offspring, after she’d shown them around her office and dared describe it as “the bomb.” I empathised, mentioning how my own eldest, had threatened to disown me for suggesting she was “a crease”. Apparently appropriation of urban slang by the over 50’s is neither dope, nor bangin’. Word.

A discussion about ridiculous names harkened back to an earlier conversation, where we all endorsed the Natty Gnat’s call for an official list of acceptable names to prevent stupid parents saddling their off-spring with criminally ridiculous monikers. Particular ire today was reserved for numerous Celtic names, with incomprehensible spellings, Niamh, Siobhan, Aoife, Oisin et al.

In a discussion about winter tyres, Crazy Legs’s recommendation was to find out what I was riding and simply avoid buying anything similar. He then described how he himself had a spate of blow-outs before discovering his track pump was calibrated so that 40 PSI showed as zero on the dial.  Apparently riding tyres at 160 PSI is not conducive to inner tube longevity.

Finally, he declared that the Quote of the Year award had already been won, even at such an early date, with Taffy Steve’s observation that “It took Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator less than an hour to develop self-awareness, but the Prof ‘s still working on it after 55 years.”


The ride home was largely without note, although we were passed by a grim faced rider whose face was so black and begrimed that he looked like he’d just completed Paris-Roubaix in the most adverse weather imaginable, or, as Bydand Fecht suggested, spent a Saturday club run riding behind G-Dawg, who thinks mudguards are only for sissy’s.

I made it home in decent time, feeling comfortably tired, rather than utterly exhausted and with both tyres and tubes fully intact.

Not a bad start after all.


YTD Totals: 147 km / 91 miles with 1,727 metres of climbing

Doggone … Drop the Leash

Doggone … Drop the Leash

Club Run, Saturday 29nd October, 2016

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                  111 km/69 miles with 1,025 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                          4 hours 1 minutes

Average Speed:                                26.0 km/h

Group size:                                         16 riders, 0 FNG’s

Temperature:                                    13°C

Weather in a word or two:          Cool and dry


 

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Ride Profile

The Ride:

Well, a dry Saturday with no rain forecast seemed like a great opportunity for a good ride, compounded by the fact that OGL and G-Dawg were travelling up to the Braveheart Dinner in Scotland and so we were left pretty much to our own devices.

Crazy Legs had manfully stepped up to the breach and outlined a proposed route. Then, to confound us all he’d even posted it a day in advance on Facebook. Unheard of, who’d have thought social media could actually be used to effectively communicate and inform?

It was at this point that revelation turned to revolution, as it transpired he’d proposed to forsake our usual café stop to try and find somewhere new and novel. An undoubted heretical act of the greatest magnitude and seriousness.

Based on change as being as good as a rest and even the sweetest honey being “loathsome in its own deliciousness” (yadda, yadda, yadda) it looked like we were off on a bit of an adventure, so it was with more than the usual sense of anticipation that I set out early Saturday morning.

The changes wrought by increasingly autumnal weather were well in evidence, with deep moraines of fallen leaves humped down either side of the road like a golden braid, while more twisted and spiralled down from the trees even as I rolled slowly down the hill to the valley floor.

At one point on my descent the wind caught a slew of these dry leaves and they skittered and scattered noisily across the road surface. I couldn’t help but feel if I’d been riding with little Tommy Eliot he would have said something clever about rats’ feet over broken glass in our dry cellar.

I crossed the river and began to clamber up the other side of the valley where, half-way up the hill I approached a zebra crossing to find crows lining the railings on one side, seemingly staring down a row of seagulls lining the opposite railing. With the black and white striped crossing in-between it looked like some strangely Dali-esque, chess game – with birds for pieces. Maybe they weren’t crows after all, but rooks?

The nearest of the birds took flight as I approached and the others scattered in alarm with a clatter and whirr of wings. That was actually re-assuring, at least I wasn’t facing some Hitchcockian-nightmare “Birds” style jury, arrayed to judge and condemn me to death by pecking.

Luckily I was able to make my way to the meeting place, arriving early and without further incident from man or beast.


Main topics of conversation at the start:

There’s an old military adage that plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy and so it was to prove for our suggested Grand Day Out. Crazy Legs had tried to contact the cafe owners to check they were happy to receive 20 or so sweaty, hungry cyclists. They shoulda-coulda-would have been I’m sure, after all our planned destination was Activ Cycles in Corbridge and in all of its promo materials it succinctly promises that most magical of all combinations – “coffee and bikes”

… but, unfortunately, Crazy Legs had discovered the owners were away for the half-term holidays and the cafe was closed. Dang it! Plan B.

Plan B – following a Facebook appeal – appeared to be the Watling Coffee House, just opposite Activ Cycles, but this looked like it would only work if our numbers were restricted to around half a dozen or so and that seemed a very remote possibility.

We knew we were down on numbers with many of the regulars being elsewhere – as previously mentioned OGL and G-Dawg were being entertained in Jockland, while the Red Max and Monkey Butler Boy were assiduously avoiding all the most gruelling climbs of La Vuelta somewhere in Spain.

That old romantic, Aether had taken Mrs. Aether for a ride on the Orient Express (not a euphemism, I assure you) while the Prof was sojourning in the Lakes. And then there was the strange case of Taffy Steve, off delivering a dog to the Isle of Man, or was it a man to the Isle of Dogs? A dog, I hasten to add which, despite all the opprobrium heaped on such choices last week, seemed to have a suspiciously stripper-like name: “Jordy.” He’d tried to convince me the dog actually had the gruff and manly name of Geordie, but I wasn’t buying it.

In any case it’s probably as well the dog is returning from whence it came, as Son of G-Dawg pointed out, imagine the reaction and confusion of calling out for “Geordie” on a crowded Tynemouth beach.

But, still the numbers on the pavement grew, even as Crazy Legs tried shooing some of the riders away. When this failed, he admitted defeat and resorted to Plan C – the same route out and along the Tyne Valley, followed by a sharp right hand turn and a clamber back north to Matfen and then out to our usual coffee stop venue.

With a goodly number still on “best bikes” and the weather promising to be fine all day, I queried whether we needed to be on winter bikes at all and if it wasn’t a day for the much cosseted Ribble to have a run out. Crazy Legs had gone for the halfway house, his venerable Bianchi rather than the wet and windy winter bike or his redoubtable all-weather fixie. He suggested he may perhaps have been tempted, but had already let all the air out of the Ribble’s tyres as a disincentive to help avoid this type of dilemma.


At the appointed, Garmin time, 16 brave lads and lasses pushed off, clipped in and rode out for a route with hopefully enough “alternative” left to still make it a bit different – so maybe New Wave rather than Punk?

I dropped onto the front alongside Crazy Legs for the first 10 kilometres or so, setting a fairly brisk pace, our order only briefly disrupted early on when the Plank pondered the perfect places to postpone progress to pee. Astonishingly it seems the Prof has some serious competition for the clubs most miniscule and leakiest bladder prize.

As we pushed along we wondered if we could perhaps ride half the group off our wheels and whittle the numbers down enough to fit into a different café, but sense prevailed and we decided to stick to Plan C and save the excitement of a different café stop for another day.

After 10km we swung off the front and let the Plank and Jimmy Cornfeed take over, while we drifted back and slotted in halfway down the line. From here I was in the perfect position to witness our first RIM of the day, overtaking a lone cyclist coming the other way.

The trouble was he was over-taking too fast and on a blind corner, swinging ridiculously wide and cutting right across the white line and into our lane. Noticing at the last minute that a bunch of skinny people on bikes were already occupying the space he was accelerating towards, he braked, swung back sharply across the path of the other cyclist, then roared past us leaning on his horn in rebuke. Whaaa? … Really? … Wow.

We then began the drop down into the Tyne Valley, but lost a few of our number to what turned out to be a puncture, so we pulled over to the side of the road to wait. Repairs duly completed we regrouped and then swooped and whooped our way to the valley floor and started following the river upstream.

Unfortunately, Newton can’t “uninvent” gravity and what goes down has to come back up again. It wasn’t long before we were climbing up toward the main east-west road, the A69. Learning from past mistakes we actually found a crossing point directly opposite where we emerged onto the road and didn’t have to traverse half of its length before we could scuttle across.

A bit of real-life Frogger with the speeding cars safely negotiated and we were onto the very steep and very narrow climb to Newton, becoming strung out and somewhat scattered as we struggled upwards. The road kept climbing and everyone kept going for a few more miles, before a halt was called and we regrouped for the last part of our run, through Matfen, up to the Quarry and on to the café.

As we passed through Matfen, the ultra-protective Crazy Legs asked if I’d seen the surface of one of the side roads still looked to be somewhat moist. Not quite sure where the conversation was heading, I had to admit I hadn’t noticed. “Hah!” he declared, “I knew I was right not to bring the Ribble out.”

To be fair he had been riding along all day looking to justify his decision, at one point even misinterpreting the blowback from one of Zardoz’s errant snot rockets as rain, looking quizzically up at the clouds and pondering, “Have I just felt a drop of precipitation?”

I caught up with Sneaky Pete and we had a chat about Clive James’s writing, the hilarious Dave Barry (“The metric system didn’t really catch on in the States, well unless you count the increasing popularity of the 9mm.”) and my having to batter a mouse to death with a cycling shoe last night, an incident we determined probably deserved the blog title “Blood on the Cleats.”

I mentioned I’d bought some new tyres for Reg next year, Vittoria Rubino’s with added graphene, only to discover that Sneaky Pete had already sneaked the exact same tyres onto his bike and had been using them for a while. He couldn’t honestly say if they were any better or worse for “that mother-fecken graphene stuff” as Taffy Steve had dubbed it. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

As the only other Vittoria acolyte I’ve found in the club, I asked Sneaky Pete if he too had joined the inner circle and received his regular copy of “The Vittorian”- the newsletter of Vittoria tyres. Sadly, he hasn’t seen it and I guess I’m still unable to prove it isn’t just a figment of my fevered imagination. Guess I’ll have to wait until its inevitable appearance as an eccentric and outlandish guest publication on Have I Got News for You for that.


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We scrambled up the Quarry Climb and I dropped into line beside Laurelan, who has been AWOL for a while, trying to recover from an injured foot. As we were catching up and chatting I half-saw and half-sensed movement off the front of the group and rudely leaving her mid-sentence, jumped across the growing gap as the drive for the café began, pulling Son of G-Dawg with me.

A small group of young racing snakes soon pulled away from the front, while I was just content to follow Son of G-Dawg and Crazy Legs as we tracked them at a distance, pulling away from everyone else behind. Meanwhile, Crazy Legs kept himself amused for a while nudging his front tyre against the rain flap of my mudguard, which for some reason had decided to stick up horizontally.

A fast descent, a couple of leg-burning rises and we were spat out onto the road down to the Snake Bends, which we rolled through without contesting a sprint and we kept the pace high right through to the cafe.


Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:

Staff in the café still haven’t got to grips with their new till system and I knew we were in trouble when one of them went diving through multiple menu’s to try and find Son of G-Dawg’s ham and egg pie in the Salads category!

Someone mentioned that Cyclone entries are now open, so then only 231 days, 7 months, 33 weeks, 5,544 hours, 332,640 minutes or almost 20,000,000 seconds until the ride, or as Crazy Legs suggested only 224 days, 32 weeks, 5,376 hours or 322,560 minutes of agonising about which ride to enter, before plumping for the one he always does.

Re-visiting the stupid names conversation from last week I mentioned the best one I’d found so far was the rather innocuous (at first glance) Jenny Taylor.

Crazy Legs lamented the loss of his favourite no-hoper from The Apprentice, someone who was so up himself he’d proudly proclaimed something nonsensical like, “I’m fluid, pour me in a glass and I’m the glass, pour me in a bucket and I’m the bucket.”

This gave me the opportunity to recount some of the genuine bon mots from an old boss of mine, who’d once described a client as “a wiry, old fox,” said talking to a female member of staff was “a bit like the Taming of the Shrewd” and declared I “wouldn’t say hello to a boo goose.” The recollections still amuse me, 20 years later.

Talk turned to G-Dawgs inclination to retire gracefully from the annual sufferfest that is our Hill Climb – before he has a heart-attack that kills him. We wondered if setting a new personal best would be adequate compensation for killing yourself – perhaps earning an epitaph somewhere along the lines of “it was/wasn’t worth it.” [Delete as applicable.]

Crazy Legs then revealed there was hope for us old ones yet, as John Glenn had been an incredible 77 when he last took a trip into space.

Meanwhile, Son of G-Dawg revealed that not only will a dirty bike left at his Pa’s miraculously clean itself, but if he left his kit there as well he would return to find it freshly laundered and neatly put away. There were some suggestions that he didn’t really need to make a pretence of helping clean his bike, he simply needed a laundry basket big enough to take both bike and kit.


The return home was suitably stress and incident-free and made in good order to cap a very enjoyable ride and we now have the target of trying a new café for the next time OGL drops the leash.


YTD Totals: 5,961 km / 3,704 miles with 59,372 metres of climbing

Club Rules


A Series of unWritten Club Rules …

I’ve been at this club run malarkey long enough to recognise that our club is constantly evolving and developing our own unique rules of etiquette for the safety and eminent enjoyment of all.

I felt it was about time some of these rules were formally enshrined in writing, so they can be disseminated, discussed and adopted among my brother and sister cyclists.


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Rule#1 – the club run only adheres to Official Garmin Time (OGT). The departure time for club runs will always be precisely 15 minutes after any advertised start-time (OGT+15). Why? Just because.

Official Garmin Time is used to ensure perfect accuracy and synchronisation – if we can’t be on time, we can at least be precise!

Rule#2 – A club run can only commence when at least two members verify via separate Garmin devices that the Official Garmin Time has ticked over to the requisite 15 minutes from the advertised start-time.  (OGT+15).

In the absence of two Garmin’s, one or both timing devices can be substituted for mobile phones, other bike computers or any other satellite-synchronised timepiece. Mechanical or digital wristwatches, pocket watches, clocks, sundials, the height of the sun above the horizon, avian migratory patterns or the inexplicably variable timings employed by local public transport services are not adequate substitutes.

In the absence of two properly configured Garmin devices or other adequate and suitable substitutes, the time of departure must be determined by a show of hands and intoning of the single word of consensus: “Aye.” Only when a majority have indicated it is time to leave will the club run officially commence.

Rule#3 – departure (when at least two members verify via their Garmin devices that the Official Garmin Time has ticked over to the requisite 15 minutes from the advertised start-time) is to be announced by nothing further than the ostentatious and audibly pronounced application of foot to pedal and clipping in.

Rule#4 – any items found on the road that are not immediately claimed by a member of the group are forfeit and belong, in their entirety to the Prof. This includes, but is not confined to: all articles of clothing, regardless of if they are cycling related or not, bike, motor car or motorcycle componentry, any and all roadkill, any and all fly-tipping or littering and any and all other manner of detritus, leavings or flotsam and jetsam.

In the Prof’s absence, beZ is his legally appointed lieutenant and proxy and will maintain the right of first refusal on all roadside items discovered during the ride.

If the Prof or beZ declare the materials as unwanted, they will in all likelihood be left in situ until such time as the Prof believes they have mouldered long enough to be of value.

Rule#5 – when riding two abreast, the correct point of alignment should always be the leading edge of your companions front most tyre. This is to allow for strange and misguided eccentrics who may occasionally wish to accompany us astride small-wheeled velocipedes.

Rule#6 – Is the only exception to Rule#5 – when riding alongside the Red Max the correct positioning is to have the leading edge of your front most tyre advanced no further forward than his front hub.

Rule#7 – it is bad form for any coffee order placed in the café to be anything other than a standard mug or cup of filter coffee.

Effete, premium and exotic orders such as Espresso’s, Flat White’s, Cappuccino’s, Latte’s, Machiato’s, Americano’s etc. etc. shall only be ordered if you are the very last person in the queue and you are certain that the time-consuming making of said beverages will not delay or impede the service afforded your brother or sister cyclists. The needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the one.

Rule#8 – Other exotic, non-standard hot beverages may be purchased and consumed, such as green tea, jasmine tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea, hot chocolate et al. as long as said purchaser understands they will be called an “effete poseur” and may be told at anytime to MTFU.

Rule#9 – we are not the Velominati – socks can be any colour, any length and any style. But, they must be straight at all times.

Rule#10 – When the inevitable occurs and we are harassed, harangued, sworn at, swerved at, honked or tooted at, flipped off, abused or otherwise threatened by a Random Indignant Motorist (RIM) it is the duty of all cyclists to give them the biggest, friendliest, most exaggerated, cheesy and cheerful wave possible.

I’ve no idea if it confuses the RIM’s or even registers across their tiny brains, but it looks bloody hilarious.

Now, what have I missed?


 

Sur La Jante – by the Book

Sur La Jante – by the Book

Anyone with a Kindle and a strong and unfulfilled Sur La Jante addiction (and who am I to judge?) can now access the collected witterings from all of 2015 in one handy volume.

All this for a nominal fee of 99p or 99¢, or whatever the equivalent is in your local currency and exclusively available from an Amazon site near you.

The UK version is here and the US version (complete with whacky/wacky UK spellings) is here.

For some reason Amazon wouldn’t let me give the book away for free, but of course the exact same content is always available gratis on this very blog site.


Flabslam Cover