Do the popcorn and do the horse. Show everybody where you’re at.

I’ve spent the week doing the popcorn and the horse with a heck of a lot of agitated 16th note movement. The boss made a funny joke and said I was moving like James Brown. He had a point. Skip to 1.15, the bit where he holds his neck at the same time is eerily reminiscent of me moving down the stairs at points various during the past 6 days.


I thought I’d be fine by Monday. However, on waking my hamstrings felt tighter than catgut on a wooden racket. Tuesday was the same. By Wednesday morning I could just about take the stairs with an overlapping leg action in the conventional manner, as opposed to the unsteady one-step shuffle. Going downstairs, or any gradient pitched at higher than 0.3%, proved to be my undoing and I reverted back to a drunken misstep.

Wednesday evening was the club 25 around the lake. I felt woefully unprepared, my legs were nowhere near recovered from the 20 minutes of exertion on Saturday morning. I had to ride though, for a couple of reasons. It was a trophy event, first and foremost. Apart from that, I had to ride for my sanity. The end result was a clinical demonstration of why cyclists should never, ever run. I paced the first lap fairly evenly, heading round Chew Valley Lake in 18 minutes and 50 seconds, around 25-30 seconds slower than I should have been. I took it easy knowing full well that bad things might happen over the subsequent two laps. I was right. Bad things happened immediately. I began to cramp up violently at around 10 miles. My second lap was over a minute slower (a geological timescale over an 8 mile distance). In the time it took to me to complete the 3rd lap there were three mass extinctions and the Morlocks ran out onto the parcours. It was a violent, messy, horrible affair. On the floatiest of floaty nights, floatier even than Lloyd Grossman in Mastermind, I went around 3 minutes slower than I should have. I clung on to the trophy by the translucent skin of a gnat’s tooth.

Over the course of the circuits I became well-acquainted with the various flora and fauna around the loop. Not far from the start lay the bloated corpse of a badger, the stomach swollen with muggy humidity and decomposition. Breathing heavily, i inhaled a waft of badger for about 30 yards, once per lap. It had notes of death. On the second lap a freshly-walloped squirrel lay within 10 feet of badger. Afterwards I found out a club mate had killed the beast during his race; it ran out and successfully avoided two leisure cyclists only to be brutally mown down by David Bolton, who was riding a crash-damaged road bike cadged from a friend. it’s a savage tale of death and dishonour. The club skipper then recounted a tale from days of yore, when the spinergy rev-x was all the rage.

cippo on a characteristically understated bicycle

A hapless tree-beast ran out across a country lane in the Mendips, trying to avoid his front wheel by doing that syncopated shuffle they do, only to end up making a beeline straight for it. One of the four bladed spokes scooped up the furry creature and spun it straight into the fork crown where it was, as the captain put it, ‘sliced and diced’ in an act of pure carnage. Generally, rodents and fork crowns don’t mix.

getting cosy with the brake caliper, nice place for a nap

Someone should have called in these guys:


The upshot of the sorry saga is that I will never, ever run again. I can only hope that I make some kind of recovery by the time the hilly stuff rolls around in October.



3 thoughts on “Do the popcorn and do the horse. Show everybody where you’re at.

Add yours

  1. Paul, that was a truly exceptional time for someone who does no running. Let’s not hear
    any nonsense about giving up, all you need now is a wetsuit and your destiny as a killer Oryx awaits you

    1. omfg. please no.

      i feel that only today, 7 days after my ill-fated expedition into the heart of running darkness, can i turn a crank arm with anything like my customary efficiency.

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