Can’t Bring Me Down

Can’t Bring Me Down

Club Run, Saturday 11th March, 2017

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                  103 km / 64 miles with 986 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                          4 hours 12 minutes

Average Speed:                                24.5 km/h

Group size:                                         28 riders, 2 FNG’s

Temperature:                                    12°C

Weather in a word or two:          Pleasantly cool with late showers

ride profile 11 March
Ride Profile

The Ride:

An extended period of warmer, dry weather saw a shuffling of the hierarchy in the Sur La Jante stable … or to be more accurate and less prosaic … the dingy, old bike shed. As a result, the ratbag mountain bike was relegated to the very darkest recesses, where it will sit and moulder until I can work up some enthusiasm for spending time and money on its sorry old carcase, or until the return of winter weather sees it dragged once more, limping and disabled into reluctant use.

To be honest it needs some real TLC as its slowly disintegrating round me. It’s already lost 70% of its functionality now, with only 8 of the original 27 gears in working order. The headset rattles like a bag of drop-forged spanners, while the 1½ functioning brakes have been possessed by a shrill and malevolent banshee. This evil spirit emits occasional and erratic blood-curdling screeches, like a rabid, feral cat being slowly dipped in boiling water.

Tucked in beside the MTB, the Pug got a good clean, wax and oil, before being prescribed bed-rest and set on reserve for emergency purposes only. Hopefully I won’t have to think about it again until at least October, when I have plans to upgrade most of the groupset from an awkward blend of Tiagra and Sora, to a more refined Shimano 105.

Out from its hiding place, the single-speed Trek has been shod with a new set of (Vittoria, naturally) tyres and last week it once again became the commuting bike of choice. And … from the other side of the shed … from its specially reserved space of splendid isolation, rising like lions after slumber, the Holdsworth has once again been unchained and unleashed.

The decision has been made and will not be retracted, best bikes are being broken out up and down the country and there is to be no turning back. Even the threat of rain showers later on Saturday wasn’t going to change anything.

Friday night saw me then, prepping my old friend Reg for Saturday’s ride, his first outing of the year. I’ve some new tyres (with added graphene!) to slap on at some point, but to be honest last years Corsa’s still looked to have plenty of life left in them, so that particular change can wait a while.

Saturday morning saw me dropping down the Heinous Hill faster and more assured than I had at any other time this year, revelling in pure speed, how the bike felt solidly planted and the turbo-charged tick-tick-ticking of the freewheel. I’d forgotten just how much fun this cycling lark could be.

Everything just seemed tighter and more refined, the brakes bit immediately and effectively, while gear changes were crisp and flowed smoothly. The transition was relatively smooth too, as I only once found myself reaching for a non-existent thumb-shifter.

Pushing out onto along the valley floor, the verges were scattered with the bright orange,yellow, purple and white studs of budding young tulips. It certainly feels like spring is just around the corner and it was beginning to look that way too.

A brief halt at the traffic lights on the bridge gave me the chance to watch the rowing club warming up with a serious of half-hearted shuttle-runs. There were at least 40 of them, several crews were already out on the water and there’s yet another club on the far bank. When did rowing get so popular?

Back underway, I found myself once again negotiating a serious of roadworks and temporary traffic lights, but seeming to catch my urgent need to maintain forward motion, this time I seemed to hit every one at just the right time and blew through them without delay, arriving at our meeting point in good time and in good order.

Main topics of conversation at the start:

As I pulled up in a bright blaze of vile red, poisonous black and bilious yellow, G-Dawg solemnly informed us that OGL had already issued a doom-laden proclamation. Apparently we  would be engulfed by rain of biblical proportions should we dare to spurn the will of the weather gods and try riding anything but winter bikes today.

We all naturally assumed the worst and that Horner’s Theorem™ would apply anyway. This rule irrefutably proves a direct relationship between the number of shiny, posh and clean carbon bikes out on a spring or autumn morning and the number of crap-covered farm tracks, pothole and gravel strewn roads, gates and cattle grids OGL will “accidently” try to include in our route.

Jimmy Mac looked to be the only one still out on his winter bike – apparently, his good wheels had been mysteriously detained in OGL’s workshop where they’d only gone for a quick service and tune up. I suspected this was just a ruse to ensure OGL wasn’t the only one out on his winter bike. Of course he announced they were now ready to pick up, but … oops … not in time for today’s ride.

We had an FNG in the shape of a new arrival to the North East, recently transplanted from his native Devon and looking for a good club to join. I’m not sure how he wound up with us…

An ex-racer, he would later find a kindred spirit in beZ and the pair would eventually leave us tootling, old guys and gals, to go try and rip each other’s legs off. In the meantime, he took the time to introduce himself to everyone, complete with a firm, manly handshake. A good first impression, though I’ll be hugely impressed if he can attach more than a handful of names to an array of too similar, anonymous looking, helmet encased, sunglasses wearing bike jockey’s.

Grover wheeled up for his first ride of the year, much like the budding tulips, a truly profound indication that spring is just around the corner. Recovering from our mild surprise and rubbing our eyes to make sure it wasn’t just a miradjee, someone wondered if Szell might be next up, although it was quickly agreed we’d have to wait another month or two before the emergence of this particularly exotic butterfly from its winter chrysalis.

There was a long and involved discussion about Jess Varnish and the state of our national cycling federation, apparently beleaguered amidst a sea of troubles. An expectedly myopic OGL wouldn’t have a word said against British Cycling, while Taffy Steve reasoned that if you employed a straight-talking, foul-mouthed, Australian bully for a coach, you should know exactly what you’re going to get. Meanwhile, Tom-Tom suggested bullying and sexism had no place within any professional institution, least of all the highly public, elite end of sport.

I didn’t have anything sensible to add to the discussion, but felt compelled to mention Jess Varnish was an obvious talent and she had a real good finish on her.

“Yes, satin semi-gloss.” Taffy Steve agreed, while the Prof just looked on befuddled and wondered what the hell we could possibly be talking about.

Our 9:15 Garmin Time start was somewhat delayed by OGL collecting club membership fees, which prompted the Prof to ponder what actually happened to the princely payments our president procured.

“You might as well take a big stick and go and stir up a hornets nest.” G-Dawg suggested in the shocked silence that followed the question.

A bumper pack of 28 lads and lasses were soon pushing off, clipping in and riding out in two long snaking lines.

I spent time sitting toward the back of the pack with Sneaky Pete as we rolled out, Taffy Steve and Crazy Legs shouldering the burden of the work on the front as we clambered out into the countryside via Berwick Hill.

Rotations off the front and a brief stop for a mechanical and then for the Prof to pee, saw the order change and I spent some time chatting with Grover (who was definitely not enjoying his first ride since November) and then the BFG.

At some point OGL led us out briefly out onto the A696, two lanes of screaming death metal, notorious for speeding and dodgy over-taking manouvres. We all got stacked up at a junction waiting to cross against the fast moving, high volume traffic heading north on what is, after all a major route up to Scotland. We stood there far too long, all crowded together and feeling vulnerable to anything travelling south with too much pace or not enough attention, before managing to effect an exit.

“Great,” Taffy Steve quipped, “Looks like Punishment Ride Number 8.”

That’s what you get for riding your best bike without permission, but the weather had been so fine for the past week that we failed to find any dodgy, dirty roads. Still, you can’t say we/he didn’t try.

At one point, I caught up with Keel, who is enduring life in a call-centre while he waits for his chosen industry to pick itself out of a slump to get his career back on track. He’s still plumbing the depths to try and find the lowest base level of human benevolence, empathy, compassion and understanding. This week’s candidate for Caller of the Year had excused their ignorance and rudeness by suggesting, “I can’t help it that I’m upper class and you’re working class.”


Next up was Cowin’ Bovril who revealed he’s planning a trip to the Alps with Carlton in June. Funny he should say that …

The road finally spat us out at the bottom of Middleton Bank, with Crazy Legs turning left, away from the climb for a slightly longer run to the café, simply because it’s a direction he’d never taken before. Just as he swung away, Sneaky Pete sneaked off after him, while I hesitated, before deciding not to follow.

Hitting the steepest ramps of the climb, I then found myself at the back and boxed in as the BFG drove a small group off the front. In giving chase, Tom-Tom opened up a small gap which I nipped through and I dropped onto his wheel as he passed a struggling Taffy Steve, caught in an unequal fight with both the slope and a rubbing tyre.

As the road straightened, I swung past Tom-Tom and dragged him across the gap to the front runners. Over the top, there was to be no regrouping after the climb this week,  both the BFG and Keel working hard to push the pace up on the front as we closed on the café. I drifted to the back of the group and followed the wheels as we swooped down through Milestone Woods and up the first and steepest of the rollers.

Here the BFG popped, swung over and was swept away. Half-way up the final climb, Keel also blew, G-Dawg, Jimmy Mac and Biden Fecht romped away to contest the sprint, while I tusselled wheel to wheel with the Prof for the minor places.

Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:

G-Dawg and Crazy Legs have organised an off-road , mountain bike excursion around Kielder next Saturday. Sounds like fun, but I suspect any kind of route more challenging than a riverside path is likely to shake my mountain bike to destruction. Besides this, it’s much too soon after re-discovering the joy of riding the Holdsworth again, so I had to pass.

Completely independent of Carlton and Cowin’ Bovril, Crazy Legs has also arranged a trip to France,  where he’ll re-enact Hannibal’s epic journey across the Alps. Captain Black, Goose and me have all volunteered for the role of the elephants, reasoning we probably climb like enormous, lumpen pachyderms anyway.

We fly to Geneva on the weekend of the Cyclone, with the idea of driving to France and setting up a base camp within striking distance of Alpe d’Huez, the Galibier, Col de la Bonette, Col d’Izoard and all those other legendary climbs that cyclists can usually only dream of. That should keep us well occupied for 3 or 4 days.

We represent then … drum roll please … “The 4 Riders of the Alps Bucket-List”  – although my carefully pre-prepared blerg title, has been somewhat ruined as Crazy Legs’ brother-in-law, or aunties, uncles, nephew’s son, or some such distant relative  will also join us.

The BFG too, might venture out, if the timings coincide with his human phases of the moon and even the elusive, semi-legendary recluse, Hammer has threatened to join us, although I understand he’ll be flying out by private jet and will probably take up residence on his super-yacht in Monaco for the duration.

While there’s no contest in a choice between the Alps and the Cyclone, the trip does mean I’ll miss the annual slug fest around Northumberland for the first time since 2010.   This not only breaks a 6 year tradition, but means there’s a sportive-sized hole in my annual schedule, which the talk at Saturday suggested could be filled by a return to the Wooler Wheel. There seems to be a lot of club interest in the ride, which I haven’t done for a couple of years, so it’s definitely-maybe a possibility.

Captain Black also helpfully reminded me of the post-ride grub the organisers provide, which is, I have to admit a real incentive and could yet sway my decision.

Crazy Legs wandered up in his role of Hannibal to discuss trip arrangements, picked up Princess Fiona’s Oakley’s by mistake and made to wander away. Called to account, he did have the excuse that her prize, expensive Oakley’s were identical in absolutely every way to his knock-off, uber-cheap Fauxley’s. He placed both pairs side by side to prove his point, but luckily didn’t shuffle them around and ask us to pick out the genuine article.

The Prof exulted in his original Ray Ban X-Rays, which he felt were old enough to be seen as not only a true classic, but apparently wholly original and positively vintage.

“And you’ve only ever had to replace the lenses 13 times and the frames 6 times.” Captain Black quipped.

With OGL dithering over another coffee, most of us were done and dusted and so we split the group and left.

On the way back I was chatting to Taffy Steve about local sports “heroes” – inevitably ours are cerebrally-challenged ex-footballers of dubious abilities, who manage to get continuous media work despite relying on the most mundane prognostications, unedifying insight and some truly banal cliché’s.

I told him how one famous son of Tyneside had rang the University demanding a place for his daughter and, on being told her qualifications simply weren’t good enough, had actually resorted to the cheesy old, “Do you not know who I am?”

(Of course, I always enjoyed the (probably) apocryphal story of the outraged airline passenger who used the same, “Do you have any idea who I am?” line, only for the ticket agent to fire up the public address and loudly announce, “We have a passenger here who can’t remember who he is. If anyone can help him, please come to gate 17.”)

I also had a laugh at Chris Waddle who it seems has singularly failed to master the word “penalty.”

“That’s a stone-wall pelanty!” he’ll shout excitedly down the radio, while I shake my head and sigh. No Chris, it’s not.

“That is good though,” Taffy Steve mused, “He can’t pronounce penalties and he can’t take them either.” Ooph!

As we made our way down Berwick Hill, the driver of a large white panel van we’d obviously delayed on his massively important journey for the briefest of nano-seconds, decided we didn’t have any right to be on the road. To make his point he decided it would be a good idea to overtake, pull sharply in front of us and then execute an exemplary emergency stop, in the hope that we would all pile into the back of his van and die in a horrible, mangled heap.

Sadly for him, our brakes and reflexes were more than adequate to cope with this utterly ridiculous and dangerous stunt and we all stopped admirably and without incident, albeit there was a fair bit of shouting.

Taffy Steve pulled up alongside the open window of the still rocking van to calmly inform the moronic driver that he’d been a very naughty man indeed and suggested we had 20 witnesses to a very clear case of dangerous driving, before riding nonchalantly away. These pronouncements seemed to leave the loon gibbering, spluttering and chittering incoherently in outraged apoplexy, while we all filed past and continued our ride. Complete and utter arse hat.

Exiting the Mad Mile, I latched onto the BFG’s wheel as his new lair lies a little way along my route home and so I enjoyed a bit of company for the first quarter of a mile or so. Then I was off, riding solo and still thoroughly enjoying myself.

Crossing the river, I was approaching a supermarket entrance, and noticed a car with Probationary driver plates waiting to pull out onto the road, piloted by a young, female. Feeling sure she’d noticed the vulnerable cyclist, or at least the line of cars stacked closely on my rear wheel, I gave it no further thought, until she pulled out directly in front of me.

I had no choice but to swerve into the opposite lane, which was thankfully empty, while wildly gesticulating with a universal “WTF” waving of my arms, which she studiously ignored. I passed down the left-hand side of the car as she slowed to turn immediately right, banging on the side-panel to try and get her attention and at least have her acknowledge I existed. Eyes fixed very firmly straight-ahead, there wasn’t even a flicker that she’d done something irrefutably stupid and wrong, before she turned the wheel and drove blithely away.

Y’gads, they’re everywhere! But, despite it all, malicious, ignorant or simply inattentive, asinine drivers failed to puncture my good mood. I can’t wait for next weekend and the chance to do it all again.

YTD Totals: 1,228 km / 763 miles with 13,060 metres of climbing




Club Run, Saturday 21st January, 2017

My Ride (according to Strava)

Total Distance:                                  95 km/59 miles with 624 metres of climbing

Ride Time:                                          4 hours 11 minutes

Average Speed:                                22.6 km/h

Group size:                                         18 riders, 0 FNG’s

Temperature:                                    5°C

Weather in a word or two:          Grim


Ride profile

The Ride:

At the last minute I swapped the windproof winter jacket for the waterproof, windproof and slightly thicker version and as I dropped down the hill, lashed with freezing cold rain I began to suspect it had been a wise choice. The day was grey, dank and miserable with the cloud closed in tight, shrouding the hill tops and dulling all the light.

I had an uneventful jaunt across to the meeting place, arriving early enough that the only person already there and waiting was the Garrulous Kid, standing outside and being rained on. I indicated I was heading to the shelter of the car park and invited him to join me there. We’d all be soaked through soon enough, I couldn’t see the point in hastening the discomfort.

Main topics of conversation at the start:

The Prof arrived, peering uncertainly through ultra-dark Raybans to try and make out the faces sheltering in the gloom of the multi-storey. OGL suggesting his choice of eye-wear wasn’t best suited to the conditions, while G-Dawg expressed concern that he might have a dangerously myopic Prof trying to ride on his wheel.

The Prof tried to justify his clothing choice with an erudite quote and asked, “What was that thing John Hurt said?”

“Probably nothing, or maybe just urgh?” I suggested, reflecting on the actors very recent demise.

OGL volunteered Spike Milligans self-penned epitaph, “See, I told you I was ill,” but neither selection was met with any great appreciation by the Prof, who instead started wittering something about being gay and wearing pink shirts. Who knows?

OGL started to tell me about servicing some sturdy mountain bike and taking the big, 1½” headset apart to find there were only 3 ball-bearings left inside. I kind of lost the thread of the conversation after that, as I was left wondering how the bearings had disappeared from inside a sealed unit. I’ll never understand bikes.

The Red Max rolled up sans the Monkey Butler Boy, who he said had been laid low with a bad illness after skipping the club run last week in favour of a trip to the theatre. I suggested he was probably suffering from culture shock and concluded no good would ever come of cyclists dabbling with the liberal arts.

Having hung around long enough for all the brave and the good and true to join our merry throng, we decided it was time to set off and I followed the Prof as we led another 15 lads and lasses out into the grim weather.

Safely negotiating the first set of traffic lights, I almost came to grief, garrotted by a dog leash as an owner blindly hustled his pooch across the road against the lights.

A little further on and Richard of Flanders joined us, slipping across the road from the opposite carriageway and slotting in beside me on the front for the first part of the ride.

As we turned out of Brunton Lane a mass of blinking lights in the distance signalled the approach of another club and I suspect for the next few miles we may have merged to form one extraordinarily long, super-peloton – no doubt much to the delight of any following motorists. Or at least that’s what I’m guessing happened, as I was quite removed from things at the head of affairs. Anyway, none of the other riders passed us, so I’m guessing they were comfortable with the pace we were setting on the front, at least until they could find a place to turn off and pursue their own ride.


Up towards the airport, the verge at the side of the road had been well mangled by the less than careful passage of some poorly driven, large and heavy vehicle, patterning the grass with deep tyre-treads and spreading a thick carpet of muddy divots across the kerb and into our path.

Carefully negotiated, we then hit Dinnington to find the road was even worse, though thankfully this was largely confined to the opposite, southbound lane. Here traffic, to and through a building site, had left the road buried under a thick carpet of slippery, slimy, claggy mud and assorted effluvium. This was the road we’d been forewarned about last week and had deliberately avoided. Now, if anything it was perhaps worse and we made quick plans to alter our route back and avoid being sprayed by whatever dubious coating had turned the road such a deeply unpleasant colour, or worse, slipping and crashing down into a slick of frozen slurry.

With Richard of Flanders railing about the duty of care construction sites are actually obliged to afford the local environment, we pressed on in search of more welcoming and less problematic road surfaces.

As we made our way toward Shilvington, we agreed we’d done our fair share on the front and on cue we split to either side to wave the next pair through. I drifted slowly back down the outside of our line, looking for an opportunity to tuck back into the wheels, but only after carefully assessing each bikes mudguards, or lack thereof.

A space opened up invitingly behind G-Dawg, but one look at his short, seat-post mounted sliver of hard plastic positioned a good hands span above his rear tyre and I kept drifting, finally slotting in behind Jimmy Mac and his much more expansive protection.

After the briefest of stops, we pushed on again, with OGL determined to make a bee-line straight for the café in the face of the cold, dank and miserable weather. As we all turned that way I began to suspect, for the first time I could remember, we were all going to head straight in for coffee and cake.

G-Dawg had other ideas however and took a group of us off for a more extended loop around Bolam Lake, adding at a few more miles and a bit of climbing to our totals for the day. Nevertheless, this was to prove one of our shorter club runs.

As this longer, harder faster group approached the final climb, I could sense Biden Fecht trapped on the inside and eager to get out as the pace increased. With a shouted, “Come on, then!” I eased slightly and allowed gap to open so he could nip through. It was a manoeuvre I thought we accomplished with some aplomb, but unfortunately my slackening coincided with Son of G-Dawgs attack.

I was blissfully unaware of this, as he twitched violently aside at the last moment from what in aviation terms would be a very, very near miss and used the adrenaline fuelled horror of nearly running into my back wheel to catapult off the front.

G-Dawg, Son of G-Dawg and Biden Fecht whirred away to contest the sprint, a detached Geordie Shaw gave chase, while I led home the rest of our splintered group.

Main topics of conversation at the coffee stop:

Son of G-Dawg said he was already getting twitchy and looking ahead to setting aside the winter hack and being able to unleash his good bike, but I suspect winter isn’t done with us yet.

In the meantime, he admitted to being tempted by new direct-drive turbo that incorporates an integral freewheel, so you don’t need specialist tyres and its quick and easy to set up. As he described it, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his eidetic recall of the marketing hyperbole being used to promote the thing.

I suggested he was a marketeers dream and wondered which phrases in particular had resonated with him.

“Elite?” I suggested.


“Fluid technology?”


“Transmission belt?”


“Torque meter?”

“Yes, that too, but the thing that really swayed it … was the internal lasers!”

Lasers. Now I understood and so did every bloke at the table, as we all discovered we had a pressing need for a new turbo.

Jimmy Mac extolled the virtues of Zwift, which he said now lets you ride everywhere, including inside a volcano, or under the sea. He said you could even get it to simulate Classic routes like Paris-Robubaix.

“Or,” I suggested, “you can really turn it up a notch and select a club run through Northumberland.”

“When it will immediately simulate smashing your front wheel into a pothole and rip your chain off.” Son of G-Dawg added.

We then wondered if you could employ people to periodically douse you with buckets of freezing, muddy water for the full effect.

G-Dawg sought advice to try and sort out a malfunctioning rear shifter, discovered out on a ride where he found he could only change up and never down. He’d ended up having to stop and move the chain manually – once his legs began whirring round like a demented washing machine but still failed to generate any traction.

Funnily enough, after careful testing he found his front shifter works fine. I was quite surprised by this, given that he only uses it about twice a year, I thought it may have atrophied and dropped off.

We left the café in dribs and drabs of different groups, all with their own plans for avoiding the mud slick in Dinnington.

Our group was the last to leave and like last week, opted for an alternative loop around Stamfordham – slightly longer and hillier, but hopefully a little less dirty.

As we rode out, I found myself riding behind Geordie Shaw and wondering why his bike was making a loud rumbling noise and why he was so intent on riding out of the saddle. I finally twigged that he’d had a rear puncture and was just trying to escape off the main road before stopping to make repairs.

There then followed one of those priceless moments that remind me why I love club runs so much, as half a dozen blokes stood around in the freezing cold and icy rain, talking a complete and utter, but fantastically entertaining load of auld bolleaux™

It started when Geordie Shaw found the cause of his puncture, one of our special, super-tough, steel-tipped thorns, which laugh in the face of Kevlar puncture-protection strips. Having trouble removing this, I recalled how the Red Max had helped me out of a similar predicament by supplying a pair of needle-nosed pliers from the depths of his portable workshop buried in his bottomless bag of tricks.

When this failed to work, he’d resorted to removing the thorn with his teeth, while the large contingent of dentists our club seems to attract, looked on either with concern, or in gleeful anticipation of some expensive, restorative dental work.

[Since we had a diversion last week to discuss the collective noun for monkeys, I feel a similar need to identify one for dentists. The best suggestions so far are either a “brace” – or my own particular favourite, an “amalgam” of dentists.]

We decided that from now on the only truly manly way to deal with embedded thorns was with your teeth: clench, suck and spit – sort of like how crusty old cowboys tackle a rattlesnake bite, cutting a big X in the skin to suck the poison out.

Still struggling to remove the thorn, G-Dawg played Daniel to Geordie Shaw’s lion, suggesting using something to help push the offending splinter out. And lo! We discovered the only possible use for the 2mm Allen Wrench on a bike multi-tool.

This, I suggested was a great breakthrough for all cycling kind, its only drawback being the 2mm wide, perfectly symmetrical and hexagonal hole it left drilled through the surface of your tyre.

In a brief discussion about tyres, Son of G-Dawg revealed that his choice of winter tyre, Vredestein All-Weather, All Seasons, recommended inflation to a minimum 170 psi. I don’t think my track pump could even handle that kind of pressure and I’d be worried about it blowing out my rims!

We decided what Son of G-Dawg was probably riding were hand-made, silk, track tyres and only remotely “all weather” and “all seasons” if you only rode with them in a climate-controlled indoor velodrome. Jimmy Mac suggested even then, they’d probably recommend you replaced them every 500 metres.

As Geordie Shaw set to with his mini pump, the conversation turned to C02 canisters and how much pressure they would put into a tyre, which Son of G-Dawg reckoned was about 80 psi, but warned they were a bit hit and miss and only seemed to work effectively half the time.

“Plus, you can freeze your hand to the rim.” He added.

“And have to piss on it to release it.” I concluded helpfully.

Working frenetically to push air into his tyre, Geordie Shaw declared he felt the weather was changing and starting to warm up. I simply gestured at his strenuous upper-body work out, while G-Dawg stated it was probably the hardest he’d worked all day.

“You’re going to look at your maximum heart-rate spike on Strava and realise it wasn’t in the sprint, or climbing the steepest hill, but when you were trying to inflate your tyre,” he suggested.

Finally back under way, I had time to check with Carlton how his cheap gloves had held up last week. The verdict was pretty good and as he said, “Who needs Castelli when you have a Jet Service Station.”

Feeling much better than the previous week and without De Uitheems Bloem driving the pace up and beyond unbearable, I swung off for home having thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the atrocious weather.

YTD Totals: 518 km / 322 miles with 5,426 metres of climbing