first chaingang of the year; unexpected – other plans i had fell through so i went out with the club this morning. last time i went it was horrible, really genuinely unpleasant. this time it was much better. the rotation worked well and the two lines were paced evenly; people coming through were dropping back and it was easier to dose the effort and the recovery.

the 15 miles out to Aust were steady, followed by an absolute blast on the way back, average speed crept up and it was a lot harder. nevertheless, i clung on all the way and certainly feel it now.

here’s cambridge cc doing their chaingang; anticlockwise. we go clockwise.


21mph average.

32 miles.

the chaingang is hard work, there’s no other way of describing it; high intensity and at times very quick; it requires a certain level of fitness and a lot of willpower. it’s also a good way of gaining fitness; riding for 60 miles at an even pace doesn’t leave me as knackered as 32 miles at a brisk pace. it’s no club run – not much talking goes on at all, but when everything is rotating smoothly there’s a great feeling of (dis)comfort; effort, but calm; limited time on the front, short recovery.

the dreaded chaingang

i’ve been eating out on my hillclimb triumph for about four weeks now, telling all and sundry how quick I am, esentially allowing my cycling-ego to soar through the roof in a riot of endorphins and unchecked triumphalism. i even turned up to the monthly club meeting, solely in the hope that some more glory might come my way – and some did, the results sheet pointed out that the club record certainly was within reach for next year. so, yes, all in all, i’ve been full of piss and vinegar, but also a little bit maudlin, because finding out you have a knack for cycling competitively is all well and good when your sporting life stretches out ahead of you, like a patient etherised on a table, but when your post-30, it’s quite chastening, because time is not on your side. I only have three or so years to achieve the polka dot jersey.

so anyway, the next step in my quest for cycling armageddon came with the club’s saturday morning chaingang. i awoke to the sound of truisms ringing in my ears, ‘it can’t be that hard’, ‘there just a bunch of clubmen’, and ‘i’m the club hillclimb champion they will surely defer to my superhuman powers’. I even fitted my brand new san marco regal saddle, a prize in last week’s ‘hacksaw’s challenge’, and just for fun, whacked a deep-section hed jet 2000 on the front, you know, to show i meant business and was going to make my bike fly.

well, a little bit of hubris goes a long way. the first five miles were run at around 21-23mph, a fast start, and it hurt. i already have 150 miles in my legs this week and feel deserted by form, that most fickle of friends. that was fine, but imediately riders were getting shelled out the back like discarded pistachio shells. the pace continued to climb, until it reached around 25-26mph, with a constant through and off. and pretty soon, the elastic snapped for me too, and i considered myself well and truly dropped. i limped home with a similarly abandoned rider (although the psychology of riding is that you aren’t abandoned, you make the choice, and the group hurtles on, it’s you who can’t keep up).

and that’s that really, back to the drawing board, i’ve discovered my strength, it’s riding up hills quickly. i am a grimpeur.

Blog at

Up ↑