Jimmy Mac Cracks

Jimmy Mac Cracks

Club Run, Saturday 15th April, 2017

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                 114 km / 71 miles with 1,106 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                        4 hours 27 minutes

Average Speed:                                25.6 km/h

Group size:                                       28 riders, 1 FNG

Temperature:                                   14°C

Weather in a word or two:          Cold but dry


 

15 April
Ride Profile

The Ride:

Well, the good news was it wasn’t raining. The bad news? It was still just as cold as it had been the day before and the wind was much stronger and more noticeable. It would be a thankless task at the head of our group today.

Stopped at some traffic lights, I did find one character displeased that it wasn’t raining – a large grey gull stood drumming its feet frantically along the grass verge like a demented toddler having a tantrum, trying to fool whatever critters that lurked in the soil that it was raining heavily and they needed to surface immediately to enjoy the shower. Sadly, I had to leave before finding out if his efforts were worthwhile.

Crossing the bridge and riding back along the other side of the river, I caught movement on the opposite bank, which my brain instantly translated into a fellow cyclist in a white helmet, keeping perfect pace with me. Then, his helmeted head suddenly came right off and seemed to fly into the air! My WTF moment passed as I realised what I’d actually been watching were two gulls flying in tight formation and it was only my febrile brain that had inexpertly filled in the blanks to translate them into a cyclist. Should have gone to Specsavers.

I managed to make it safely to the meeting point without further random hallucinations, but I was wholly unprepared for the horrors that awaited me there…


Main topics of conversation at the start:

I had a chat about graphene in tyres, World Championship cycling, yesterdays ride and the upcoming Amstel Gold Race, but to be honest the only thing I really remember were the Garrulous Kids most remarkable socks.

They were long, they were thick, they were horrible and they were baggy – pooling round his ankles like used elephant condoms. They were also much, much hairier than the legs they encased and I wondered if they weren’t meant to be worn expressly with shin pads.

They were perhaps something you might, just about, get away with on the rough and tumble of a rugby pitch, but were a quite excruciating faux pas on a bike. A strange shade of not quite-khaki and not quite grey, they were, apparently, the only clean pair of socks he could find.

As I say, they were so distracting that I can’t remember any other conversations at the start and, as an alumnus of the old-school, where cycling socks should always be white, they were terrifying to behold. I still feel I’m suffering from PTSD – or post-traumatic sock disorder and I may never recover.


Under Red Max’s direction, we split into two groups on the road, following the same route, but with a decent gap between each group. This seemed to work well and, from my perspective anyway, seemed more conducive to drivers being able to overtake us safely.

I joined the second group on the road, with G-Dawg as nominal leader and tucked myself into the back, as far from the front and the troubling headwind as I could get. G-Dawg, Son of G-Dawg, Crazy Legs, Ovis and Captain Black were amongst those who battled resolutely with the conditions as we pushed out into the countryside, doing sterling and much appreciated hard work.

I rolled on, sheltered amongst the wheels, alternately riding and chatting with Sneaky Pete and Buster and the only time the relaxed serenity of the ride was interrupted was when we almost caught the first group on the climb out from Matfen. Crazy Legs surmised they must have stopped to plant a flag and conduct a long-winded naming ceremony. We pulled over to let them get away again and then a mile or two further on called an impromptu pee stop to let them pad the lead some more.

Somewhere a little further down the line and Sneaky Pete sneaked away, having to cut short his ride or face immediate excommunication from the family. I found myself riding with the Garrulous Kid and explaining my strange mistrust of any pro cyclist who wore black socks.

Our route then took us down Middleton Bank for a change, a descent that was over in seconds and left me wondering what all the fuss was about when we were climbing in the other direction. Tipping down, it didn’t seem either particularly long, particularly steep or all that difficult.

OGL and then Zardoz and his daughter were the next to slip away, finding shorter and easier routes to the café, while the rest of us pressed on.

Passing through Kirkhale and looping right around Capheaton, we were soon heading east toward Belsay, with the wind finally at our backs. The run in was fast and it was frantic and we were soon splintered apart and scattered all over the road.


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On the final dash I found myself behind Jimmy Mac and Crazy Legs and sensing Son of G-Dawg on my wheel, I tried to lead him out for the sprint, pulling out, accelerating down the outside to the front of the line and going as hard as I could for as long as I could.

Pulling to the side, Son of G-Dawg then swooped past with Jimmy Mac and others in pursuit and job done, I eased back for the Snake Bends and I was overtaken by the Garrulous Kid, socks flapping and snapping like a loose spinnaker, apparently still racing and sweeping majestically wide around all the corners.

He earned himself a sharp rebuke from a motorist who didn’t appreciate random cyclists hurtling toward him on the wrong side of the road. The motorist then carried his ire over to also salute Crazy Legs with a sustained horn blast, even though he was innocently rolling round the corners behind me, in total control, firmly planted on his own side of the road and wondering what he’d done wrong.


Main topics of conversation at the coffee

With the café mobbed we found ourselves outside, and were soon packed two to a bench around one of the tables. With no room to squeeze anymore in, Captain Black took to the next table and Rab Dee, decided it would be rude and antisocial to leave him all on his lonesome and got up to join him. Crazy Legs immediately called out, indicating Rab Dee’s recently vacated space and suggesting we now had room at the table for the Captain.

Talk turned to facial hair with Crazy Legs comparing Zardoz’s luxurious whiskers with G-Dawgs more-bandito-style Zapata moustache – reminiscent he felt of one of the characters from the Good, The Bad and the Ugly. When pressed to identify which character, Crazy Legs plumped for Eli Wallach.

“Ah, so you’re saying the Ugly then?” Jimmy Mac queried innocently.

“Well, it could be worse, I could have picked Lee van Cleef.” Crazy Legs responded, “Everybody hates Lee van Cleef.”

Before the Garrulous Kid could intervene to ask who Lee van Cleef was, Crazy Legs quickly cut him off at the pass, declaring Lee van Cleef was a famous Dutch cyclist, a runner up at last years Paris-Roubaix.

For some unfathomable reason talk turned to Captain Scott and The Garrulous Kid professed ignorance of the world famous arctic explorer and dismissed our suggestions that he should know who he was with the flat statement, “Well, I’ve never met the man!”

Unfortunately, while we sat stunned and trying to process this announcement, he sensed a gap in the conversation, which he started to fill with a long litany of insane and inane pronouncements.

In this way we learned that … Batchelor Party 2 is, without doubt, the greatest comedy film, ever, bar none … Focus bikes are designed and engineered to the most exacting standards in the world, because they’re German … one of the Garrulous Kids classmates is an obese Bulgarian … the Garrulous Kid only wears Autograph underpants from M&S … he also has the wrong shaped face for a beard … his dad drives a BMW … Jimmy Mac is the double of James Cracknell … his favourite cyclist is Greg van Anorak … or was it Avenmart … or maybe Peter Sagan … or maybe Phil Gil … Son of G-Dawg is a dead ringer for some random Chinese man from the greatest comedy film, ever, bar none … the Garrulous Kid sometimes mispronounces words, but its not his fault as he was born in Norf Carolina … he’s good at science, just not very good at maffs … his parents watch the TV show Narcos, but it’s a load of rubbish … and he can pronounce Pablo Escobar properly, because he studies Spanish at school…

Whaaaat?

In the face of such a prolonged and sustained aural battering we watched as Jimmy Macs eyes slowly glazed over, his head dropped in despair and he visibly slumped, collapsing into himself like a punch-drunk boxer whose taken one too many body blows. We knew then he’d been ground down to such an extent that he had finally cracked.

He sat there quietly, avoiding eye-contact, playing with his water bottle and I wondered if he was going to try and make the Garrulous Kid forcibly ingest it to stop the flow at source, or perhaps plunge the top through his own eye to try and make the pain go away.

Luckily the Garrulous Kid spotted the Red Max at the next table and wandered away to talk at him and we had a moment of calm and blissful silence to collect ourselves for the ride home.


A fast spin back, a burst up the Mad Mile tucked behind the G-Dawg locomotive and I was cut free, turning off for home and battling the headwind on my own terms. A slight detour found me trapped in a housing estate cul-de-sac before I gave up on finding a new route home and got back on track, I was soon crossing the river, putting the wind behind me and cruising home.

I felt ok climbing the Heinous Hill and looked forward to a day of rest, watching the Amstel Gold Race before trying it all again on Monday.


YTD Totals: 2,063 km / 1,282 miles with 21,980 metres of climbing

Transitions, Transmissions and Tales of the Tashkent Terror

Transitions, Transmissions and Tales of the Tashkent Terror

Club Run, Saturday 16th April, 2016

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                  101 km / 63 miles with 973 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                         4 hours 16 minutes

Average Speed:                                23.7 km/h

Group size:                                         14 riders, 2 FNG’s

Temperature:                                    8°C

Weather in a word or two:          Sleet, snow, sun, showers, wind and hail

Main topics of conversation at the start:

I informed Crazy Legs that, completely out of character, OGL had actually been at the meeting point when I rolled up bang on 9.00 o’clock.

“So, finally kicked you out has she?” Crazy Legs enquired, but apparently this wasn’t the case.  OGL then began a long, rolling ramble to relate the entirety of his morning conversation with Mrs. OGL in all its infinite detail. Eyes quickly glazing over, Crazy Legs suggested there was a kind of sublime, zen-like perfection in one word answers and innocently enquired if OGL agreed.

The local, Tour of the Reservoir starts today, which I guess explains the truly shitty weather. I actually think it’s stipulated in the rule book that the race will be cancelled if it’s not at least lashing down with rain and blowing a gale, or if the temperature ever dares nudge toward double figures.

This video by Darrell Varley(complete with obligatory hailstones on the grass!) gives an idea of just how bleak the racing was this Saturday. A few of our mob were planning a trip to watch the finish of the race tomorrow, when hopefully the things will have improved (although it’s hard to see how they could get any worse.)

An FNG joined us astride a very nice, brand new, Dura Ace equipped Pinarello Dogma with deep section carbon wheels. He said he was a Sky employee and had won the bike in a competition. Nice work if you can get it.

OGL conducted a quick smuguard count, only 4 out of 14, but one of these included the Pinarello and we all agreed this was just wrong on so many levels it didn’t count. There was a definite feeling that fitting guards to a Dogma was like harnessing a thoroughbred to the plough.

In a complete revolution and startling transition the Prof had temporarily eschewed his small-wheeled velocipede for the Frankenbike. This had been freshly resurrected (yet again) in his secret lair/laboratory/workshop and transformed with a coat of light absorbing, matt black paint. The only splash of colour was provided by one single, bright red brake cable outer (he’d obviously been unable to beg, borrow, find or steal sufficient black cabling) and a large, candy pink rubber band holding his Garmin onto some kind of gimcrack mount fabricated out of who knows what.

There was naturally a great deal of surprise, if not shock by this transformation, although OGL’s suggestion that it could perhaps herald the emergence of a beautiful swan seemed a bit wide of the mark: you know the saying, if it looks like an ugly duck, waddles like an ugly duck and quacks like an ugly duck, then in all probability you know exactly what it’s going to be?

Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:

OGL mentioned Dan McLay’s incredible slalom-style sprint to win the Gran Prix de Denain (here) where he surfed effortlessly through gaps that didn’t seem to exist before bursting over the line with perfect timing – equal parts luck, indomitable bravery and unbelievable skill.

Crazy Legs was reminded of the photo that showed the perfect inverted V of Nacer Bouhani and Michael Matthews leaning their bikes over at incredible angle during their top speed clash amongst the barriers on Paris Nice Stage 2. How that one didn’t ended in disaster I’ll never know.


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This led to the almost inevitable reminiscing about Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, what a name, what a rider… what crashes. Crazy Legs related how his brother idolised the “Tashkent Terror” and how they’d made the trip to the 1992 Tour of Britain just to see him.  Spotted sitting dressed in full team kit in the back of a Carrera car with the doors wide open, our two intrepid fans tentatively approached and asked, “Are you Abdoujaparov?” To which all they received was a very blunt and very emphatic, “Nyet.”

This, Crazy Legs admonished OGL, was how you effectively master the one-word answer and put it to brutal and effective use to shut down any chance of further communication.

OGL trotted out a hoary old tale about someone ordering a custom built frame that he wanted to be the exact same colour as his … err… gentleman’s helmet shall we say. We argued that this would surely vary by individual, and matching with a Pantone reference swatch would be a difficult and unenviable task. I could only imagine someone going into their local B&Q store, walking up to the Paint Mixing counter, slapping their “junk” down (as I believe the youth of today call it) and suggesting they, “Match that!”

News of Phil-Gil’s pre-Amstel Gold altercation with a motorist in which he sustained a broken finger had led to suggestions he’d used a pepper spray that he carries when out on a training ride. I know motorists in our country can be unreasonable, but I’ve never felt the need to carry a concealed weapon. We did wonder about what damage you could do using a CO2 canister as a weapon of last resort.

OGL then retold the tale of a legendary local cyclist having an altercation with a driver on the Tyne Bridge, reaching through the open window to remove the keys from the ignition and casually flipping them over the side and into the river some 85 feet below, before pedalling calmly away. I like to think there is perhaps a small grain of truth in these stories, but like tribal folklore they’ve become somewhat embellished and exaggerated over the years and countless re-tellings. You can decide for yourself how much of this tale is true, or if you’re a Social Anthropologist, perhaps you’ve just found the subject for your next thesis.

OGL was also replete with all the latest scurrilous club gossip that we all seem completely ignorant of, or perhaps more accurately are luckily impermeable to. He described one of the girl’s changing personal circumstances, which didn’t seem to have made even the smallest, slightest ripple on our collective conscience. As Taffy Steve concluded the news was largely unimportant and irrelevant to us: “It’s not as if she’s bought a new set of wheels or anything.”


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Ride Profile

The Waffle:

Yet again cold rain was falling from grey, overcast skies as I pushed off, clipped in and rolled downhill. Is this really what they had in mind when they promised me global warming? We’re into April already and I’m still waiting for the transition to spring weather.

On the first corner bright patches of rainbow-hued diesel were blooming ominously across the wet tarmac like malevolent flowers and I slowed and inched gingerly between them, before hitting the straight and letting gravity pull me down.

Unusually the roads were quite busy with serious looking cyclists and I passed around 7 on my way to the meeting point, all of them heading in the opposite direction. This had me wondering if they knew something I didn’t, but I pressed on regardless.

Pausing only long enough to view the utter chaos caused by ever expanding roadworks where the High Street becomes the Great North Road, I indulged in a bit of alleyway rat-running in the narrow spaces between the endless lines of double-parked cars that horribly crowd all the streets in this area. It can’t be much fun to be a kid growing up here.

Arriving at the meeting point I was amazed to find OGL already there and waiting and other riders started to arrive in dribs and drabs until around 14 brave lads and lasses were grouped together ready to ride.

As an indication of how bad the weather was, the G-Dawg collective had received special dispensation to ride their winter bikes, no doubt having completed the blood sacrifice of several chickens, goats, all the family pets and perhaps even a blood relative to the Great and Ancient Bicycle Tree in order to receive its blessing. Despite the extreme conditions, G-Dawg still insisted on wearing shorts though, if only to demonstrate his utter disdain for the weather.

I was feeling somewhat below par with a low key headache that had been hanging around for a couple of days and seemed to pulse more strongly now I’d confined my head in a helmet, provoking a distinct feeling of queasiness. It was all a bit like suffering from a hangover with none of the benefits of over-indulgence the night before.

By contrast Goose was properly and professionally hungover, looking pale and tired and he would spend most of the ride hanging gamely off the back, somehow managing to drag himself around behind everyone else. It was not perhaps a hangover cure he would recommend or be in a hurry to repeat.


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I bounced around a bit as we set out, chatting to Taffy Steve, OGL and both FNG’s. One of these I’d been expecting,  he’d recently moved house and left a club my work colleague Mr. T. rides with.  Now we had the chance to lure him away from the civilising light and let him embrace his dark side.

A sudden dip and climb out of a sharp valley had me swerving around the Prof, who’d pulled up to reclaim his Garmin after, in his own words, “the mount suddenly shattered.” I uncharitably translated this to the perhaps more accurate, “my elastic band broke” and then was delighted to learn at the café that the device wasn’t held on by an actual, fit-for-purpose, regular, store-bought elastic band, but rather a strip of bright pink rubber the Prof had “constructed” from a cast off Marigold glove.

At the split I then watched a post-micturition Prof, more familiar with  just stepping over his small-wheeled velocipede, struggling with the unfamiliarity of how to climb gracefully back onto his grown-up’s bike. I suggested to Taffy Steve we might have to start carrying a mounting block just to help him out.


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OGL surprisingly had no takers for the amblers group and everyone else was soon grinding up the climb to Dyke Neuk. At the junction a few of us had to quickly abort a right-hand turn as a vintage car swooped too fast around the bend ahead. A few miles further on and two dozen more encounters with vintage jalopy’s heralded the fact that we were riding through the middle of the 8th Flying Scotsman Classic Car Endurance Rally.

Many of the vintage car drivers returned our cheery waves, some sneered at us with disdain while we giggled at their stupid helmets (no doubt they were giggling at ours too) – and I’m pretty certain a good few of them never even saw us as they thrashed along, peering myopically through their immeasurably small and restrictive windshields perched at the back of massively long, massively tall bonnets.

They did however provide an interesting photo opportunity as they passed one of our backmarkers, purely by accident the grime and muck on the camera case conspiring to give the photo a faded, old fashioned, epic feel, like some post-war Tour shot half way up a mountain. I liked it anyway.


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The Pinarello FNG was really struggling now and we had to slow and wait several times, producing a strange sort of stop-start sprint. Proof, if any were needed, that it’s not about the bike.

As we pounded up the last slope I’d managed to manoeuvre myself from last place into 4th behind G-Dawg, Son of G-Dawg and a rampaging Captain Black, only to be royally mugged by Taffy Steve on the very last ramp as I faded. The bugger makes a habit of doing that to me and seems to take a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction from it too.

As we left the café G-Dawg could be seen looking out for the Pinarello Police he was convinced were going to turn up with bolt cutters to unceremoniously snip and strip the mudguards from the Dogma, if not take the bike into protective custody for its own safety.


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I found the pain in my lungs and legs following the sprint to the café seemed to have driven away the niggling headache and enjoyed the return home, feeling quite chipper.

Descending Berwick Hill we were treated to a loud horn fusillade as an overtaking RIM gave vent to his anger at being delayed by all of 5 seconds and I couldn’t help but laugh as, to a man and in perfect unison every single one of us gave the driver our biggest, cheesiest and most cheerful wave.

Splitting from the group I found the approach to the last roundabout before the Heinous Hill uncharacteristically snarled up with traffic.  I slotted into the queue behind a car proudly displaying the bright red badge of Audax UK – the long distance cyclists’ association, and as we crept forward by increments I had the chance for a brief chat with the driver.

He thought I looked particularly vulnerable stuck in the middle of all the traffic and was looking for a way to help me across the roundabout, but as we both finally agreed, things are what they are and there wasn’t a lot either of us could do about it.

Roundabouts and traffic safely negotiated, I thought Mother Nature had saved the final insult for last, as a hail shower accompanied me all the way up the hill. The cruellest twist however was kept for Sunday which dawned, cold but bright, dry and cloudless from horizon to horizon. Maybe next week will be better?


YTD Totals: 2,055 km / 1,277 miles with 19,089 metres of climbing