I haven’t posted all that much lately because i haven’t been riding all that much. the weather, work and a lack of racing conspired against me. However, i have defaulted nicely back into the life of the club cyclist, and have got out and about on the club runs. When i lived in London the dulwich paragon club runs were my first rite of passage into cycling as a social activity, even if me and a few friends did refer to them as the ‘dulwich paraplegics’ on account of just how unbelievably slow their saturday morning club ‘runs’ were.
BSCC club runs follow a similar pattern to all other club runs up and down the land. they are between 50 and 60 miles with a tea stop in the middle and certain unwritten rules tend to be observed:
1. those without mudguards shall ride at the back or risk grave opprobrium from those falling victim to the spatter of slurry, unless you are a ‘tall, bespectacled’ world trike champion and misjudged the weather, in which case all is forgiven, despite the double spatter effect.
2. those riding fixed fight their own masochistic battle with the gradient, and each other, whispering gear inches and silently hoping the club captain avoids the nastier climbs.
3. the advent of the tea stop will become immediately apparent due to the increase in pace and kierin-style sprint finish. this is not, as some have suspected, a piece of fartlek, but simply a mad dash to be first in the queue for the chocolate malteser cake at a local garden centre.
4. the wetter the weather, the filthier the lanes, the grottier the conditions, the better the club run. if you close your eyes for a brief second you can almost imagine you are sean kelly, leading the bunch over the pavé in one of the spring classics.
5. no-one gets left behind – mechanicals are dealt with, hillclimbers wait at the tops of climbs and the group bunches together on turnings to ensure everyone is on board. recently i sliced the carcass of my tyre, but someone happened to have a piece of an old tyre cut to size to boot it with and thus get me home. however, if your 30 year old raleigh dynatech titanium frame cracks catastrophically at the head tube, you’re suddenly very much on your own, even if the club run peloton is in the middle of the north somerset triangle, with the nearest signs of life being a three-eyed farmer accompanying his yearlings to market.
beyond that, it’s a social event, newcomers are welcomed with open arms, if a little cautiously, humour and conversation drives it forwards, and you can bag all your exercise for the week in 4 short hours.
it was very mucky this week, and last week.
this is the club captain’s red and gold chariot:
look on my works ye mighty, and despair!