Radiation Vibe

Radiation Vibe

Club Run, Saturday 22nd July, 2017          

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                  105 km / 65 miles with 436* metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                          4 hours 17 minutes

Average Speed:                                24.4 km/h

Group size:                                         24 riders, 0 FNG’s

Temperature:                                    17°C

Weather in a word or two:          Dreich

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Ride Profile
* Stop me if you’ve heard this before – it rained throughout the ride and my Garmin naturally had a hissy-fit in protest. The official route Crazy Legs posted up had over 700 metres of climbing and that’s not counting my clambering up Heinous Hill or the other side of the Tyne valley. Nonetheless, I officially managed only 436 metres.

The Ride:

7:10 Saturday morning and I’m lying in bed listening to the rain hammering on the roof and window and the noisy gargle of the overflow racing down the drain pipe. Another rain swept Saturday in summer, it must be a club run day.

45 minutes later and leaving the house, the rain has eased from torrential, to just plain annoying and I’m pulling on a light, easily stowable waterproof jacket in anticipation of it actually stopping at some point. It’s always good to travel in hope.

Still, I’m more accepting of the weather than I was last week, I’d prepped the Peugeot the night before, so rolled out with the protection of full length mudguards. I’d also combined the thinnest socks I could find with my waterproof winter boots, assured of keeping my feet dry, but a bit concerned about them getting too warm.

The ride across to the meeting point was totally unremarkable, no exotic wildlife, no homicidal drivers, no near misses and the noteworthy, but not altogether unexpected absence of other cyclists on the road. It was horribly wet.

I ducked into the multi-storey car park to join the only other early arrival, the Garrulous Kid and to wait for the intrepid and insane to assemble.

Main topics of conversation at the meeting point:

OGL was noticeable by his absence, having been called to attend some interminably dull, extraordinary general meeting for British Cycling. Someone wondered why G-Dawg hadn’t accompanied him and he visibly shuddered at the thought – explaining that not only would you have to sit through a long, boring meeting, but relive it in minute, forensic detail, blow-by-blow, in the car all the way back.

The Garrulous Kid proved he was in the running for a name change to the Hyperbolic Kid, declaring the Star Wars movies were the greatest film series ever made. Taffy Steve and I pondered if Chewbacca was still being played by the same “actor” Peter Mayhew and, rather bizarrely, the Garrulous Kid suggested Maria Sharapova, would make a great replacement Wookie.

“Only if she wears high heels.” G-Dawg drawled, while I tried to decide if in the Star Wars universe, dressing a Wookie in high heels was equated to a similar Terran expression about putting lipstick on a pig.

Jimmy Mac returned from a long absence and declared he’d qualified to represent Great Britain at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championship in Albi, in August. I had to express surprise, not so much because he’d qualified, more at the thought there was an actual Gran Fondo World Championship.

Still, if we wanted someone to represent us in a Gran Fondo World Championship, who better than the clean-cut, super-smart, highly practical, ultra-dexterous, unflappably cool, always in control, Consultant Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon and all round good guy Jimmy Mac.

Meanwhile Richard of Flanders reported that ex-club member, Arnold had completed the L’Etape du Tour and found it not only expensive, but massive, chaotic and very, very badly organised.

Richard of Flanders wondered about heading home to swap his good bike for his winter bike, but decided not to. He wasn’t alone and there was a distinct lack of mudguards on offer throughout the bunch. There were lots of ass-savers though – or perhaps they should be re-named i’m-all-right-jacks, or ass-covers – only useful for covering your own ass. I feel if you’re going to subject your fellow riders to the constant deluge of spray off your back wheel, the least you can do is accept your own share of the misery and discomfort and not hide behind these flimsy bits of plastic. Go on – take it like a man.

In spite of the weather, it was a surprisingly large group of two dozen riders who pushed off, clipped in and sallied forth into the deluge.

We hadn’t made it through Dinnington, when we had a puncture and all piled into a car park while repairs were made. Here Jimmy Mac found he could drag his wet buttocks across his damp saddle and create a fearsome squeal, akin to someone dragging their fingernails down a blackboard. Real squeaky bum time.

He took time off from setting my teeth on edge to compliment the Garrulous Kid who was now sporting the biggest, blackest chain ring tattoo I’ve ever seen.

“How did that happen?” the Garrulous Kid asked, I assume in all seriousness, as he looked down at his calf in befuddlement.

A bit further on and he’d added a second grungy, oily brand above the first, just to prove it was no fluke. I wondered if he always cleaned his chain on random bits of exposed flesh, but apparently not. Actually, I think it was probably foolish of me to assume he ever cleaned his chain.

Tracking through Tranwell, someone behind hit a pothole and went down in a clatter and we stopped again to allow everyone to pick themselves up and check for damage.

“Oh, they’re alright.” The Garrulous Kid declared from his vantage point 30 metres or so away from the accident and Jimmy Mac was forced to admire the assuredness of the declaration and acknowledge that the Garrulous Kid had exceptional X-ray vision to go with his 20/20 hindsight.

At the bottom of the Mur de Mitford we lost a large contingent of Grogs, as they by-passed the hill for a shorter route to the café, while the rest of us grappled with the slope, wheels slipping and sliding on the wet road as grip became somewhat negotiable. Topping out the climb we traced a new (to me anyway) route to the Trench passing around Stanton.

At one point I dropped off the back with Taffy Steve who was struggling on his thrice-cursed winter bike and we found Rab Dee patrolling the rear about 20 metres back. He confirmed this was the ideal distance to avoid both crashes and the showers of shit being spat off everyone’s wheels.


Down through Hartburn and rising up the other side, Jimmy Mac had a front wheel puncture and pulled over to the side of the road to effect repairs. Crazy Legs popped up to where we all waited to borrow Taffy Steve’s mighty frame pump and we were soon underway again. We even managed to make it round the very next corner, before a loud hiss of escaping air announced Jimmy Macs original repair hadn’t fared too well, the tyre had popped off the rim and the tube had gone again.

Yet another unscheduled stop had Crazy Legs urging everyone on to the café, while he said he’d hang back with Jimmy Mac. Only then did he realise he’d left his saddle bag on his other bike and wasn’t carrying a spare tube. He too, then decided to go with the larger group in case he needed assistance.

Biden Fecht donated a spare tube and I hung back with Rab Dee, Richard of Flanders and the Big Yin to provide assistance, moral support and a ragged, surely highly-prized and always welcome, running commentary of piss-taking. Rab Dee lifted the front of Jimmy Mac’s bike up for him and he set to work wrestling the wheel out of the forks.

Watching on, the Big Yin admitted he’d rather take a dump in public than have to change a tyre in front of an attentive and critical audience of fellow cyclists … then went back to critically and attentively watching his fellow cyclist change a tyre.

I do have a lot of sympathy with his view and tend to try slipping quietly off the back, rather than wrestle with tyres and tubes while a censorious “puncture congregation” bears unholy witness.

Extended wheel-wrangling left Jimmy Mac with filthy black lines and marks up and down his legs, that were even more embarrassing than the Garrulous Kids chain-ring tatt and it was suggested he looked like an SAS sniper covered in camo paint for a night mission. Fighting through the grit and crud and crap and mud on his wheel, somehow he finally managed to get the tube in and seat the tyre back in place.

Taffy Steve had left with the larger group, taking his mighty frame pump with him, so Jimmy Mac fished out his own molto piccolo, Leznye Pressure Drive out of a pocket, screwed the hose into one end of it and attached the other to his tyre valve.

As he set manfully to work, inflating his tyre, Rab Dee kept a careful eye on Jimmy Mac’s Garmin, reading off his heart rate and we were all super-impressed that after about 5 minutes of pumping it never rose above 128 bpm. That’s the kind of cardio-vascular fitness we’d all like to have.

Unfortunately, the tyre remained as flat as Jimmy Mac’s heart rate and after several more minutes he surmised his pump must be broken. Richard of Flanders took over and pulled out his own, identical Leznye Pressure Drive. He screwed the rubber hose slowly into his pump, sizing-up the errant tyre with a dead-eyed looked as he walked toward it, much like an assassin fitting a suppressor to his pistol muzzle before administering the coup de grace.

Jimmy Mac, our UCI Gran Fondo World Championship representative, the clean-cut, super-smart, highly practical, ultra-dexterous, unflappably cool, always in control, Consultant Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon and all round good guy, then watched as Richard screwed the other end of the hose onto his tyre valve and began to inflate the tube…

“Hold on, do you have to screw that end onto the valve too?” he pondered loudly. “I just thought you had to press it on …”

Oh. Dear.

Richard of Flanders made light work of inflating the tyre and we were finally back underway again.

Perhaps as recompense for delaying us, or perhaps to leave the scene of his shame firmly behind him, Jimmy Mac surged to the front and drove the pace up. As we climbed past Angerton, I glanced back, finding totally empty road and told him we were alone, had split the group and needed to ease up a little.

We managed to regroup around Bolam Lake, but Rab Dee and Jimmy Mac seemed intent on making up for lost time and lined us out again. I dropped into their slipstream and hung there as the speed ratcheted up, hanging onto the coattails as we swept through Milestone Wood, drove over the rollers, down the hill and onto the final climb to the café.

At some point along the final stretch we zipped past Taffy Steve and Szell, who had taken a longer route to allow Szell tackle his bete noire, Middleton Bank and face down his own personal demons.

As we passed the pair, I eased and let go of Jimmy Macs wheel, coasting through the finish flags planted at the end of the lane for some event or other sponsored by the GS Metro club – I don’t know what it was for and there was no one around to ask, but it was nice of them to mark the finish of our club sprint for us.

Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:

Szell announced that his brand new dental x-ray produced no more radiation than you would get from eating 8 bananas and you didn’t even need to leave the room when using it.  I contrasted this to my last dental x-ray, where the dentist first put on a lead-lined apron and heavy duty goggles, before unspooling the remote-control trigger wire behind him as he left the room. I then heard the surgery front door open and close and saw him duck past the window, still unreeling the wire. A pause of about a minute, was followed by a deep hum, blinding flash and the smell of burning rubber. A few minutes later the dentist wandered back whistling nonchalantly, winding up the wire and declaring we’re all done.

We discovered that Banana Equivalent Dose was an accepted (well, almost) scientific measure of radiation exposure and eating one banana equivalent to roughly 0.1 Sieverts of radiation, while a flight from New York to LA was equivalent to 40 Sieverts.

From this Jimmy Mac concluded it was unwise to eat bananas on an aeroplane – and, never mind Snakes on a Plane, the next Hollywood low-budget schlockbuster could well involve aviation travel with everyone’s favourite Musaceae.

(Don’t worry by the way, a lethal dose of radiation is about 35 million Sieverts, you’re not going to get that from fruit – even if you’re in first class and constantly eating bananas washed down with daiquiris on a long-haul flight to Australia, or Hawaii)

The Big Yin was interested in organising a ride out to see the Tour of Britain, travelling on familiar roads somewhere on its route from Kielder to Blyth on Monday 4th September. It sounded like a reasonable excuse for a day off work and a ride out, although Szell raised the worrying spectre of us meeting other OGL’s from the all the different areas of Britain congregating on the same spot.

I dismissed his worries out of hand – there couldn’t possibly be other OGL’s out there. Could there?

On the way out, a quick word with the Red Max confirmed he could lay his hands on Tyvek overalls, a respirator and rubberised boots, should I ever find work in a banana plantation.

Given our puncture-crash-puncture-puncture ride interruptions, we were late leaving the café and it looked like we’d be late getting back. As we rolled down Berwick Hill I found myself on the front with the Red Max and encouraging his almost constant half-wheeling, even as Crazy Legs reported we’d split the group.

We kept going, nonetheless, up through Dinnington and around the the airport. Fast. I didn’t look back once and have no idea what was going on behind. I was still surprised, however to exit the Mad Mile without being caught and overtaken by a duelling G-Dawg and Colossus, sprinting for home and first use of the shower.

Just before crossing the river I tentatively removed my rain jacket. Oh well, better late than never and was soon heading uphill and home.

And that’s it for the next couple of weeks, as I’m off to Nice on a family holiday.

I think it’s just as well I’m leaving work before someone punches me in the face for being annoying. The trouble is, whenever I’m asked where I’m going, I can never resist:

“Where you off to then?”


“That’s nice.”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced Niece.”

It reminds me of the time a work colleague spent some time in Scotland.

“Where’ve you been?”



Don’t worry, I’ve finished now and you won’t be subjected to any more crap jokes for a couple of weeks. Hopefully the weather will have improved by the time I get back too (Ha ha. Sorry, I promised no more crap jokes, didn’t I)

In the meantime, enjoy the peace.

YTD Totals: 4,609 km / 2,863 miles with 52,634 metres of climbing



Club Run, Saturday 2nd April, 2016

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                   102 km/63 miles with 495 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                           4 hours 4 minutes

Average Speed:                                   25.0 km/h

Group size:                                           25 riders

Temperature:                                     10°C

Weather in a word or two:             Dreich

Main topic of conversation at the start:

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the BFG was convinced that summer had arrived and was here to stay and so had undertaken the first ritual leg shaving of the year. He stood there showing off his bare calves to Aveline and me, turning them this way and that so even the wan, weak sunlight bounced glaringly off the parchment pale skin and highlighted all the nicks and cuts he’d inadvertently carved into himself – it looked like he’d shaved using a cheese-grater.

Horrifyingly, he then rolled back his knee warmers to show that the shaving stopped at the tops of his calves, creating a look not too dissimilar to a hairy-kneed bactrian camel. I guess he’d felt impelled not to shave any further to avoid passing out from the accumulated blood loss. Death by a thousand cuts?


The Prof turned up wearing a pair of bright orange, Council issue, rubberised builder’s gloves. After first suggesting he’d picked them up from the nearby salt bin where some workman had misplaced them while gritting the roads, G-Dawg then asked the most pertinent questions of the day:

“So, are you going to be emptying all the bins on the way around?”

work gloves

Son of G-Dawg was looking decidedly under the weather, having over-indulged in a late night drinking session, the kind often (and invariably falsely) described around these parts as “going for a swift half.”

The BFG confessed that he was a frequent user of the dishwasher to clean his bike parts, but admitted he had to get up really early on a morning and sneak the parts through on the quick wash/eco cycle in order for his dirty secrets not to be discovered by Mrs. BFG.

He also suggested oven cleaner was a great way of keeping his chains spotlessly clean…

Main topic of conversation at the coffee stop:

More cleaning reminiscing ensued, with both G-Dawg and OGL extolling the forgotten virtues of Duraglit for polishing wheel hubs and spokes. I was always a Brasso and newsprint boy myself – an odd combination that somehow seemed to work and is apparently also useful for polishing straight razors, if you’re crazy enough to own and use one. I certainly feel these are extremely dangerous implements that the BFG would be best to carefully avoid, despite his fondness for the old way of doing things.

Carlton attributed the growth in the popularity of cycling in Colombia to the fact that drug lords had used a small portion of their ill-gotten fortunes to build velodromes. Taffy Steve suggested they were already doing the drugs, so it was a completely logical next step to embrace cycling as well – the two seemed to fit together so perfectly, hand in glove.

[A little after the moment digging did in fact reveal that notorious drug lord and gangster Pablo Escobar was an early version of the dodgy cycling patron with the kind of dangerous persona that Oleg Tinkov probably has wet dreams about owning. Pablo’s brother Roberto Escobar was a professional cyclist, national champion and team coach, so there were obviously strong links between the cartels and cycling.]

Taffy Steve recommended “Breaking the Chain,” Willy Voet’s book about the Festina affair. The hapless Voet was the team soigneur caught by the police with a car loaded down with enough drugs to fuel the entire Russian Olympic programme for the next 30 years. He was then ordered by his team to claim they were all just for personal use. To cap it all Voet’s was actually banned from driving at the time. Ooph!

Conversation turned to other sports and their own doping problems with BFG expressing some bewilderment that Maria Sharapova had admitted illegal drug use. Slowly it dawned on him that the last press-conference she’d given was actually her admission of wrong-doing, despite the fact that all he’d heard was a slightly accented Eastern European female whispering, “Aren’t I pretty? Yes, I’m pretty. I’m so pretty.” He now realises that this repetitious mantra was just his own thoughts swirling aimlessly around in his head and he really must start to pay more attention.

Taffy Steve snorted in derision that Sharapova earns so much more money than Serena Williams, despite being clearly outclassed in terms of both talent and achievements, but perhaps the BFG’s unintended thrall explains why this is.

A decidedly ill-looking Son of G-Dawg stared down a can of Coke for a while, before deciding to push off home early and try to recover. I suggested a weekly collection to provide him with beer money every Friday night as a way we could perhaps beat him in the café sprint more regularly. It seems a small price to pay.

Unless we were to find him curled up asleep under a hedge somewhere on the way back it was fairly obvious he was going to make it home long before G-Dawg and enjoy all the advantages of the first bath.

We suggested G-Dawg shouldn’t hang around too long as he’d be getting second use of the bathwater and it might be cold if he wasn’t quick. We then wondered if he might only get third use of the bathwater if Son of G-Dawg was being particularly diligent and decided to give his bike a quick rinse too.

ride profile 2 april
Ride Profile

The Waffle:

It was grey overcast and damp from the outset and by the time 25 riders pushed off, clipped in and rode out, the rain was misting down quite heavily and was destined to continue falling throughout the entire duration of the ride.

I slotted in alongside a fellow rider who’d ridden with us pretty much throughout the entire winter, no matter how horrible the weather – and who I realised I had never spoken to and knew nothing about. This wasn’t going to change today either as we progressed in what I like to think of as companionable silence – although he probably thinks I’m just aloof, arrogant and unsociable.


To be honest I’m not a great initiator of talk when in the bunch, which I guess is quite surprising given how verbose and florid my writing  is – I’ll readily admit to a writing style that never uses three words when thirteen will do.

After a prolonged spell we rotated and my silent partner slipped back, perhaps to find more amenable company, while I found myself next to OGL. Quiet, contemplative riding wasn’t an option anymore, but all I needed to do was drop the small change of a conversational gambit into his Wurlitzer mind, it would click and whirr and feedback to me astonishing or outlandish tales, facts, opinions, conjecture, speculation, exaggeration and information.

In a short space of time we’d covered Cath Wiggins’s drinking habits and exercise regimen, disk brakes in the peloton, the demise of neutral service vehicles, haircuts, Van Nichols bikes, 12 speed gears, Hope hubs, the latest Di2 advances and his plans for a new bike.

Our (or should I say his) discourse was interrupted when Aveline punctured and warned she would need help as her tyres were a bit of a bugger to work on and off. True enough, even with OGL’s pincer like claws and well-honed skills, repairs seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, although I was too far away to see what the exact problem was, a few of us having wandered away to irrigate the verges.

Standing by the side of the road getting progressively colder and wetter, the conversation turned to this very blog, with Taffy Steve warning that it was almost impossible to identify riders from their nicknames without an extensive knowledge of cheesy 80’s popular culture and rather obscure and eccentric etymology. We then left Ovis to ponder exactly where his moniker came from.


As we were finally about to get underway again, Laurelan swung past to inform us that OGL had condemned her bike as a certain death-trap, something she took quite phlegmatically, if not with a certain degree of pride. (Her Strava entries are always cleverly titled and this one bore the legend: “Mine’s a death trap, what’s yours?”)

When pressed as to what made her bike quite so lethal, apparently it was poorly wrapped tape, slipping gears and ill-fitting bar end plugs. Ooph!

We were starting to home in on the café now and the pace was noticeably quicker. A quick double-take showed me OGL poised on the outside near the front and I briefly wondered if he was winding up for an attack to show us all how it’s done.


Taffy Steve then cruised up to zeB, verbally challenged his manhood and everything suddenly kicked off. The two of them jumped away and the pace of everyone leaped up a notch as they accelerated to close the gap.

I found myself surfing the wheels, jumping from one to another and at one point latched onto G-Dawg and waited for him to tow me effortlessly across as he closed the gap. I waited too long before realising that with an ailing Son of G-Dawg he wasn’t all that interested this week. Finally swinging around him just as Andeven surged past, I latched onto this wheel and he took me up to and past the BFG before braking for the Snake Bends.

We carefully threaded our way through the bends, across the junction and out onto the main road. To me the race is done at this point, so I dropped onto the BFG’s wheel for a while until we caught Taffy Steve and I eased off as Captain Black thundered past on the outside.


“Did you have to challenge beZ quite so directly?” I asked Taffy Steve and should have anticipated the reply that was accompanied by a purely evil grin, “Fuck yeah!”

On the way back from the café I rode chatting with Carlton and then the BFG, who told me how an old boss used to condemn poor work with a shake of the head and a single explosive, “Ooph!”

He said he’d been caught using the phrase unconsciously and quite audibly whenever he was confronted by something or someone that particularly attracted his derision, such as one of the more inappropriately dressed denizens of Newcastle on a “big night out.”

Mrs. BFG was convinced that sooner or later he was going to be overheard and attract some undue physical disagreement. In fact, she suggested he’d only avoided it so far because of his imposing size.

Nevertheless, I had to admit an instant attraction to such a succinct, meaningful and useful expression, differing only from the BFG in how it should be written down– he prefers a particularly Anglo-Saxon version: “Oof!” while I like a more Gallic: “Ooph!”

On the way home a number of Garmin’s gave up the ghost, finding the weather too much, this included Carlton’s which died a slow death as power ran out. My own continued to work, but produced a rather odd profile which included what looked like a traverse down a vertical cliff face after around 65km.

As it is I can’t be wholly sure of how accurately it was recording climbing metres, but they were sufficiently low to confirm we’d done far less than normal. Perhaps that would explain how I could effortlessly sit behind the BFG and G-Dawg as they surged through the Mad Mile, using their speed to slingshot round the mini-roundabout and head for home alone.

3 Strava solo PR’s on the way back also suggested the ride had been easier than normal and I had an unusual surfeit of energy left. I was even pleasantly surprised to find on one segment, West Denton Way, I’d posted the 10th fastest time. Ever. Ooph!

Still going strong up Heinous Hill I crested the last ramp, not to cheering crowds, but the sibilant hiss of escaping air. My front tyre was flat by the time I’d carried the bike up the front steps, still I guess if I have to have a puncture I can’t think of a better time and place for it.

YTD Totals: 1,880 km / 1,168 miles with 17,307 metres of climbing