testing times

this weekend i did my first ever time trial, at quite a ripe age, but never mind. it was quite a reality check, there were also some seriously pornographic bicycles on show. anyway, the story runs thus…

ever the non-car-driver, i opted to ride to the start, thinking it was about 17 miles, turned out to be nearer 22. tried to keep the powder dry, just about managed it. the sign on was in a classic village hall setting, and the weather was good, in fact, it felt almost balmy. a few other club riders were in attendance, but steve was running late and had to sprint the two miles back from the HQ to the start – a good warmup i suppose. i was off a bit later, so took my time; pinned the race number on – 29. on the ride to the start one thing become utterly clear, the 5 miles back from the turn (out and back course) would be fought against an unpleasant headwind. after a nervous few minutes, the pusher held the seatpost, the starter counted down and i was off… like a greyhound out of the traps, a scolded cat – despite telling myself I wouldn’t. i thought i could see my minuteman, and felt i was gaining, but he seemed to remain about 25 seconds ahead, despite me going around 27mph. he then turned off into the HQ when we went past, and i realised he was just warming down. i was then passed by someone going at high speed, the disc wheel roaring like a jet turbine, pure souplesse. he later came second.

from the turn at the roundabout i hung on in, but my speed kept dropping and dropping, first 24mph, then 23, and i ended up switching between sprockets, unable to find a rhythm, chewing stem. clawed my way to the end, with the result being 17th place, out of 50 starters. which is ok, no great shakes, but certainly leaves me room to manoeuvre and a time to aim for – namely getting under 24 mins for evens. the rock cakes afterwards were amazing. and i won my class – which was the novices, taking home a tenner in a plain envelope.

i was due to ride the chippenham hardriders today, but opted out – so another first, this time a DNS. i went to the track and tore around for a while. and did the club run this morning. i think tomorrow needs to be a rest day.

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Newport Velodrome

I went to Newport Velodrome today with Bristol South CC. It is pretty much as fun as you can have on a bicycle, riding round in circles on wood. when it’s done properly there’s a sense of poetry to the whole thing, particularly with the team pursuit. i didn’t quite scale those heights, but i rode with the accredited riders in a group of around 7. this was just as well, because the beginners’ group was total chaos. at one point it resembled a madison, for all the wrong reasons; riders everywhere, overtaking, undertaking, reckless changes in speed, the works. it was terrifying to watch, but everyone made it down from the wall of death safely.we managed a few drills, including a 5 rider stack – very exciting; lots of taking laps and a sort of scaled down devil-takes-the-hindmost blast right at the death. i made to the last three, then got taken.

the afternoon i went to belle’s house for tea. we had orange cake and scones, copious amounts of tea, it was perfect. i have been eating since this morning, which is no mean feat, over-compensating massively for any calories burnt this morning. there were lovely chocolate biscuits too. cake is the best thing in the world ever, and truly the cyclist’s friend. belle makes the best cakes ever, therefore she is the best friend a cyclist could have.

i’ve also spent most of the weekend discussing multi-bird roasts. i’m a vegetarian, but they are fascinating, and slightly grotesque. i’d like to include a flamingo and a swan in any such concoction. according to wikipedia (the repository of all human knowledge);

The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the early 19th century (originally called a Rôti Sans Pareil, or “Roast without equal”) – a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting and a Garden Warbler.[4] The final bird is very small but large enough to hold just an olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. It appears illegal to make today as some of the species are endangered.

which is amazing. i’d like to see what a multi-mammal roast looks like; perhaps starting small, then getting bigger, maybe even up to an elephant. it might take some cooking though.

more rain

i cycled to work today. on thursdays i always cycle to work because i have no choice, so i am genuinely at the mercy of the weather. and in this case, the weather showed no clemency, it completely hurled it down for around 40 minutes and i cycled through a weather front. the skies were black and the droplets stung my face. to make matters worse my ipod packed up after three songs of bill callahan, choosing to give up the ghost and leave me alone. even neoprene overshoes were no match for the consistency of the water, my feet ended up soaked, and my bag – having never ever let me down – allowed a tell-tale trickle in along the seam. by the time i got to work an hour later it was nearly impossible to take my clothes off, the layer of moisture creating an unpleasant clinginess.

colleagues look askance at my dishevelled appearance, mouths agog, and asked if i had cycled (a strange question considering the lycra, overshoes, helmet, gloves, and so on) and i replied; ‘yes, it was great’ with all the masochistic fervour of the truly possessed. it wasn’t great, it was grim.

despite all of this, there was a radiant beam of light through the rolling storm clouds – i appear to have rediscovered some form, for which i am very happy. i did a 4 minute assault on a particularly brutish climb on the way home, accelerating up towards the top and feeling the endorphin kick. it was brilliant. just in time for a trip to newport on saturday with the club.

other projects: a diamant columbus mixte, possibly a 531 beater too. good times. i recommend dave hinde for cheap and good fixed wheelsets.

and i have been listening to cornelius…

oh, and my love of both folk music and beards has been suddenly, revoltingly violated: