Coffee Rush

Coffee Rush

Another Saturday, another brush with early morning rain that had me stopping to pull on a rain jacket halfway across to the meeting point.

There, with a new order of unofficial club kit imminent, people were still trying to get a grip on Santini’s Italian sizing, which, while not quite as severe as Castelli’s, still lends a bit of a gamble to any order. You know when normal-sized blokes are ordering in XXL that something’s been lost in translation. To counteract this we had an intense round of “what size are you wearing?” and even some physical swapsies as people tried on various bits of kit for fit.

I took my queue from the Cow Ranger and removed my rain jacket once he’d determined the worst of the rain had passed. A few minutes later he pulled his back on, but I decided to stand pat. One of us at least would get it right. (Surprisingly it was me and we had to have an unscheduled jacket doffing stop an hour or so into the ride.)

OGL didn’t sound all that sympathetic when discussing Aether’s tumble last week, implying it was his own fault for riding with too much pressure in his tyres. He then prefaced a comment with that immortal phrase involving grandmothers and egg-sucking, which invariably means you’re going to be told something you already know, much in the same way someone saying “no offence, but …” is just about to mortally insult you.

This time we received a lecture on wheel wear, with instruction for anyone riding Shimano wheels to periodically “run their finger over their rim hole.” Well, whatever floats your boat.

For some the rain had prompted an early return to the purgatory of winter bikes, which found Richard of Flanders pitting his steel-framed, pannier rack-equipped Genesis in a weigh-off against Goose’s Raleigh Panzerkampfwagen™ touring bike. I could have told him he would lose before he managed to grunt the Raleigh a couple of inches off the ground as, not only is it replete with innumerable racks and rails and cages and fittings for bags, but its also cast entirely from pig iron.

Jimmy Mac briefed in the route which had to avoid a closed Berwick Hill. I picked out the most important bits, the climbs of the Mur de Mitford and the Trench, then missing Middleton Bank en route to a cafe stop at Capheaton. I completely ignored the bit about getting home again, but in the end, as Chester Bennington once observed, it didn’t even matter.

We’ve been having a remarkably consistent 20 or so riders each week for the past month or so, and this Saturday was no different. Two groups were called for, but this time we struggled with numbers in the first group, so after a bit of hesitation I leant myself to the cause and 8 of us formed the vanguard for the day.

I dropped onto the back alongside Not Anthony who was hoping we wouldn’t be called to the front until we found a tailwind, but things obviously don’t work like that and we were called into action soon after scaling a very slimy and slippery Mur de Mitford.

Onto the Trench and the Cow Ranger and Jimmy Mac rode off the front while the rest of us followed at a more sustainable pace. There was a fluffed gear change and a bit of a shuffle and kerfuffle behind me, but at this point I was fully invested in the climb, so just kept going without looking back.

About half way up, Biden Fecht passed me and I dropped onto his wheel and clung on. When the slope bit again and he changed up, I returned the favour, pushing past to pace the rest of the way up the climb. We regrouped at the top, where Richard of Flanders was found to be suffering an extreme case of winterbikitis – a debilitating disease that can cause all sorts of aches, pains and a feeling of weakness in the legs. It catches up with us all, sooner or later.

We pushed on, through the Hartburn dip and swoop, skirting the base of Middleton Bank toward Wallington, and then shimmied across the A696. As we started the final climb to the cafe I managed to hang onto Jimmy Mac and the Cow Ranger over the steepest, first section, before being cast adrift and breathless as the slope ground on, and they slowly pulled away.

In the cafe we found a convalescing Buster, not yet allowed out au velo following a major operation, but obviously hopelessly missing our bravura banter and brilliant bursts of bolleaux. (The only other explanation is that he’s slightly stir crazy from being confined at home for so long that even our testing and irritating company is some kind of welcome relief. But come on, no one is going to believe that.)

We did our best to keep him royally entertained, none more so than Goose, who is obviously in the market for a new casquette, so was trying everyone else’s helmet on and taking a bunch of selfies of himself trying to look serious.

Either that, or he just likes trying other peoples things on.

We brought Buster up to speed on Aether’s crash last week and OGL’s reaction that it was a self-inflicted consequence of over-inflated tyres. Unsurprised, he reminded us of the official reaction to Zardoz’s tumble, which had been dismissed as largely inconsequential because he hadn’t paid his membership fees at the time.

At some point almost our entire table stood as one and swarmed the counter for coffee re-fills, only to be sent away for overwhelming the service, returning with disgruntled, hang dog expressions. They cheered up instantly though when one of the waitresses brought a coffee jug across and we were treated to the luxury of table service. That was very civilised, I could get used to it…

I felt it was chilly coming out of the cafe, so pushed on while others seemed to dawdle. I had a decent gap by the bottom of the descent from Capheaton and was only just beginning to warm up. I was also enjoying a rare, good day where the legs were turning more or less effortlessly, so I just decided to press on and see how far I could get before I was caught.

If I’d been thinking, or even paying attention, I would have realised they were probably taking a completely different route home to avoid Berwick Hill, while I was doing my standard routing through Ponteland from Kirkley.

So, I guess everyone took a right at West Belsay, while I followed our usual Belsay-Ogle-Kirkley trail. As a consequence, I didn’t see anyone else until Not Anthony popped up briefly on my back wheel just past the airport. That was fine though, I was thoroughly enjoying myself and don’t think my speed had dipped much below 20mph at any point of the run back.

It also meant I was a little more attuned to the environment, and was able to add to Sam-Aye-Am’s discovery of the scent of watermelon around Ogle with the not so unusual smell of freshly turned earth then, somewhat more bizarrely, bourbon biscuits and then boiled rice.

Unfortunatley, I wont have the opportunity to discover other odd, olfactory occurrences next week as I’ll be depositing Thing#2 at University and then seeing how well me and Mrs. SLJ cope as empty-nesters.

With luck, I might make it out on the Sunday though and, if not, I can always defy British Cycling’s spectacularly, misguided and ill-judged advice and actually dare to ride my bike on the day of the queen’s funeral.

#Shock #Horror not all of us are all that interested in the replacement of one supremely privileged, unelected head of state with yet another.


Day & Date:Club Run, Saturday 10th September 2022
Riding Time:4 hours 28 minutes
Riding Distance:112km/70 miles with 1,087m of climbing
Average Speed:25.2km/h
Group Size:20 ish riders, 0 FNG’s
Temperature:14℃
Weather in a word or two:Occasionally drizzly
Year to date:3,933km/2,443 miles with 44,629m of climbing

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

An Epiphany on the Road to Dinnington


Club Run, Saturday 27th February, 2016

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                   97 km/60 miles with 940 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                           4 hours 10 minutes

Average Speed:                                   23.3 km/h

Group size:                                           16 riders, no FNG’s

Temperature:                                      6°C

Weather in a word or two:              Brittle

Main topic of conversation at the start:

Eschewing his love of all things esoteric, eccentric and vintage, the BFG rolled up and right into the 21st Century on a new bike made of all things carbon, with added carbon and featuring absolutely no naturally occurring or biodegradable substances whatsoever. No wood, no leather, no cotton, no latex, nor steel, no cork, no bamboo, no graphite, no ivory, bone, ambergris, yak hair nor elephant scrotum. What? My world was instantly turned upside down.

His new love is a second-hand, immaculately kept Scott Team Foil in a size that’s so big it can only be referred to by a series of Roman numerals – in other words it’s as big as the Superbowl, although I see even the all-encompassing pomposity of the “World Championship” of American Football has had to admit defeat and dumb itself down as its fans couldn’t cope with Peyton Place Manning and the Denver Broncos winning Superbowl L.

Apparently the BFG was in serial domestic trouble on several fronts, it was bad enough that he announced he was buying a new bike, Mrs BFG is almost used to that, but she got a shock when he spent 100 times more than he usually does and then turned up with just a large lump of plastic – he might as well have traded his money for a handful of magic beans…

Then he was caught gazing lovingly at Mrs. BFG throughout the evening, only for her to finally realise his eyes were actually directed over her shoulder and into the conservatory where his new, shiny bike was sitting and winking back at him. Oh dear.

It reminded me of the time one our guys bought and fell in love with a super-smart Dolan with a custom paint job. “Does it sleep in the same bed?” I innocently asked.

“Oh, yes.”

“Doesn’t your wife object?”

“Well, no, she’s too busy standing guard downstairs.”

Taffy Steve then recoiled in absolute horror from the saddle on the Scott Foil which was nothing but a thin sliver of razor sharp carbon fibre and “just not right.”

Like signalling the end to an uneasily held ceasefire, a number of riders turned up on their best, summer bikes seeking to rival the BFG’s new mount in the bling stakes. Their argument, it’ll officially be Spring in a few days anyway. Then OGL turned up to inform us that Shouty had slipped over on black ice mid-week and broken her femur, so it would be fair to say winter isn’t over yet.

I was hoping that OGL might adopt a mock Churchillian voice (the PM, obviously, not the stupid insurance dog) and intone with suitable gravitas, “No this is not the end of winter. It is not even the beginning of the end of winter. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning of winter …”

It was mentioned that the Prof was absent because he was in the Lakes where he was promising to do some hill intervals with beZ. Someone then wanted to know how often he would need a pee stop and whether his records would need adjusting for “micturition time.”

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop:

Perhaps celebrating a new job, Keel not only devoured one cake, but then went back for a second slice. His choice was warmly applauded by Taffy Steve who displayed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the calorific content of all cakes and confectionery, declaring anything with Bounty as an integral ingredient was likely to be up there with the best.

Meanwhile the venerable Toshi San is still looking to find a new club in the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire. He rejected the last one as too effete when he learned they’d bought custom-mudguards in club colours and spent all their time posting photos on Faecesbookof their café stop tea and scones.  I naturally couldn’t resist sending him a text with a photo of my cake and coffee, but being a total Luddite he couldn’t work out how to open the attachment.


 

IMG_20160227_112746769


 

We discussed commuting and the fact that lights, more lights and brighter lights were good, but never seemed to be enough to protect you from inevitable SMIDSY incidents. I’ve been quietly impressed with a new Veglo Commuter X4 rear light I’ve got slung on my backpack, I think it principally works on a WTF basis as drivers slow down to try and work out what the hell it is they’re approaching. Meanwhile, Taffy Steve recommends a directional, helmet mounted light you can shine in drivers’ eyes to try and shake them from their myopic inattention.


 

Veglo Commuter X4 - lit up
WTF?


 

I also put in a good word for slime filled inner tubes for commuting, I’ve stuffed a couple onto my ratbag MTB under some slicks and they’ve saved me from having to stop on at least 3 occasions this month as I criminally ignored perilously worn tyres. The only problem I found with these was one seeping wound on my front tyre that sprayed my overshoe with acid green slime before finally sealing, so my foot looked like it had been caught in an unpleasant snot explosion.

With Richard of Flanders out on his new Genesis winter bike, Taffy Steve was lamenting the absence of Crazy Legs as he wanted to see if he could infect a Genesis earworm on him. I somehow suspect Crazy Legs loathes Genesis however, so perhaps the outcome would have been an obscure, unrecognisable Genesis P. Orridge opus rather than a full-on Phil Collins whine. And there perhaps is the last time Throbbing Gristle and cycling will ever sit comfortably side-by-side in the same blog.


 

Ride 27 feb
Ride Profile


 

The Waffle:

As I slung a leg across the Peugeot I was peppered by a sudden burst of hail and assailed by here-we-go-again thoughts, only to be pleasantly surprised when the shower quickly passed. And that was pretty much it for the day, which would turn out to be bitterly cold, but crisp and dry and thankfully ice free.

Half way down the hill an exaggerated hissing usually reserved for the pantomime villain, announced a front puncture and I pulled off the road for repairs. Great start. Conscious of time ticking away, I got back under way and checked my options – press on quickly and hope I could make up lost time, modify my route, or head home and drive to the meeting point?

It had been a fairly slick (well, for me anyway) tyre change, so I decided to press on, but modify my route slightly and use a different bridge. This helped shave around 3 or 4 miles off my journey, but at the expense of bit of high speed traffic surfing along a stretch of dual carriageway.

Back on track and back on time, I started to clamber out the far side of the valley, noticing at this point that I was comfortable apart from the very end of my right index finger that was throbbing with the cold. Odd. Still, it looked like the long-sleeved base layer, thermal jersey, jacket, glove liners, gloves, bib tights, socks and overshoes was about right. Despite the first appearance of “good bikes” at the meeting point it’s still most definitely winter.


 

NOVATEK CAMERA
Ready to ride


 

I uncharacteristically dropped behind Laurelan and Taffy Steve at the front as we pushed off from the meeting point, clipped in and rode out, chatting with the Red Max as we negotiated the Great North Road Cyclemaze.

We were just agreeing how hard winter had been on brake blocks, with stopping at times disconcertingly variable, when a car unexpectedly whipped around the roundabout toward us. Max nipped across in front of it to the accompaniment of squealing horn, while I got to test my recently recalibrated brakes to their full extent. So far so good – only the slight sideways slide had me at all worried.

With their stint done on the front, Laurelan and Taffy Steve swung over and Max and I slipped through as we took the road to the Cheese Farm. By tacit agreement we both upped the pace as we climbed Bell’s Hill reckoning there was too much chatter, giggling and downright enjoyment going on behind us. Did people really think we were out here for fun?

Over the top, Max rotated off the front and I took up the pace with Rab Dee and then Laurelan again. That worked well as when the call came up that the pace was too high I could immediately and unfairly blame her natural enthusiasm. It was around this time that Taffy Steve remarked that although there was a load of shiny, lightweight “good” bikes out today, they had all been noticeably absent from the front.


 

NOVATEK CAMERA
Strung out as the road starts to climb


 

Looking back later I discovered that riding on the front with a forward pointing, imitation GoPro made for some very boring shots of empty roads, although I’ll readily admit that the alternative, a series of photos of cyclist’s arses isn’t all that much better. I’m working on trying to fix the camera to my saddle rails pointing backwards, then I should at least be guaranteed lots of shots of my club mates gurning and making obscene gestures behind my back.

At one point we ran up against a Closed Road sign, but OGL airily waved us through and informed us it wouldn’t be closed to us! The arrogance of cyclists, no wonder all the drivers hate us.  Still this time he was right and we made it through without the embarrassment of having to turn back or indulge in a spot of impromptu cyclo-cross. We stopped briefly to split the group, with a larger than usual contingent of amblers escaping to take the direct route to the café.


 

NOVATEK CAMERA
I saw the road closed signs and immediately thought of us enacting this Larson cartoon


 

The rest of us pressed on for a longer, harder, faster run that almost immediately split into two groups, with all the shiny summer bikes all pressed to the front and driving the pace.

It was here that I found myself clinging onto G-Dawgs rear wheel and being jeered by the grinning, demonic face that appears on his backside whenever the lack of oxygen makes me light-headed.

I swear he wears those evil-looking, gimlet-eyed, demon-possessed Castelli trews just to taunt me and has his ass-saver deliberately positioned to look like a giant tongue blowing me a massive raspberry as I slip despairingly off his wheel.


 

NOVATEK CAMERA
The demon that inhabits G-Dawg’s ass


 

This definitely wasn’t the day for fighting it out and I was content to sit up and let a sprint I had no hope of contesting unwind in front of me.

On the return home I fell in with the BFG who was weaving desperately from side to side to avoid getting muddy splashes on his shiny new bike. Although he was suitably impressed that I had a fully trained cadre of ninja ghost-writers willing to take up the cudgel of sardonic club run commentary, he wanted to know where I’d been malingering last week.

I explained I was ill, but had submitted the required sick-note, signed and in triplicate. This then set him to musing about what it might say and he determined that general creeping decrepitude, aged enfeeblement and moral turpitude were the most likely causes for my absence. Sadly, I have a feeling he had the right of it.

He then revealed that last week he’d been blown out the back on the sharp climb up to Dinnington. Hmm, I wonder if it was just coincidence that he then went and dropped a couple of grand on a new shiny bike and has since eschewed all things vintage and elegant for brash, ultra-modern, ultra-light race tech?

I let him go to flex his old legs and new frame chasing down the Dawson twins as we entered the Mad Mile and they began their own private race for first use of the shower. Turning for home proved to be quite pleasant going with the novelty of not having to batter away into a headwind and the final few miles back were ticked off smoothly and without incident.


YTD Totals: 1,034 km /642 miles with 10,306 metres of climbing