The sun has made a welcome reappearance of late. This has also led to the reappearance of hordes of cyclists on our otherwise quiet and uninvaded roads. They are a peculiar species, the summer cyclist, akin to the cicada or some other organism with an innate biological or seasonal trigger point. I went out yesterday (started early — took my bike) and even at 8am the presence of susbtantially more cyclists than usual was apparent. Several of them were in various combinations of team kit. Not many were in club kit. I bumped into Nick Pilborough from Spin Rotor Primal and we chatted about the Tour Series. He still had his race number on his bicycle. Tom Stockdale had a really unpleasant crash in the Colchester event, I’d watched it on catch-up that morning and it looked very hard indeed, so it was nice to hear from a team-mate that he was going to be OK. The racing at the Tour Series looks incredibly hard – short technical circuits with sharp hairpins and an elite field – not nice. It’s also usually raining which doesn’t help.
The sunny weather at the moment means short-sleeve order and it’s a rare treat to able to head out the door without giving it too much thought or having that nagging interior monologue rattling around the brain – am I going to be too cold? too hot? should i swap rain jackets? mitts or defeet dura-gloves? leg-warmers or knee-warmers?
I headed up clarken coombe, it’s one of my favourite climbs, and I was going well until i unshipped my chain. I couldn’t do the old flick back on, so had to stop and get oily. I was annoyed. My annoyance lasted until I got to the end of beggar’s bush lane and saw this chap:
A first glance told me it was the mighty JTL. Confirmation came in the absence of a helmet: as any fule kno the professionals never wear helmets. I chased him down – lucky for my he was on a recovery ride, soft pedalling and generally chilling out, and asked if i could take his photo. He was really friendly and obliging and stopped at the side of the road for a chat. I got a bit over excited and tried to control myself. Our conversation was fairly typical of any conversation between two keen cyclists, he asked me where I was heading, i mentioned two mile hill – ‘the one with the switch backs heading up to horserace lane’ said JTL. He was tired after a very heavy week, I asked what he had been doing, he said ‘everything’. JTL’s planned ride was a gentle jaunt out to Wraxall and towards Clevedon. He even asked what races I had planned… I said I was keeping my powder dry until the hill climb season and doing a lot of hilly time trials with quite a bit of climbing in them, sometimes even as much as 2000ft. I asked him what races he had lined up, he said “I’m racing at the Tour De Suisse in a week’s time. Some of the climbs are over 3,000 metres”. It’s not quite the BSCC/Dursley hardrider, but I’ll allow him bragging rights on that one.
It was quite an encounter. I took the opportunity to congratulate him on an amazing season last year when he won the Tour of Britain. Tour of the Mediterrean, Tour of Alsace, Tour De Haut Var, and finished second at the Tour of Murcia. Jon’s description of this season is ‘different’ on account of his role in the team and the level at which he is now riding; essentially acting as a mountain domestique to riders like Froome, Henao, Uran and others. It’s an apprenticeship and a new learning curve.
The rest of my ride was suffused with a glow on account of the serendipitous meeting. This lasted for quite a while, or precisely, it lasted until I got to the furthest point away from home. This happened:
Usually I can fix mechanical issues when out on the move. This one proved to be a bit of a humdinger. The wheel went badly out of true and wouldn’t go through the seat stays. It required a call to Belle to bring out the Voiture Balai.
Whilst waiting for the sag wagon to arrive I enjoyed the sunshine and looked at the view.